For males, it's gentleman; and for females?
Gentlemen is to male as lady is to female. Ladies and gentlemen is used to address the audience during a speech, and ladies and gents are used on the signs of public toilets for women and men respectively.
My opinion is that the best word this type of woman is the traditional one, which is Prude.
PRUDE, noun [Gr. prudence.] A woman of great reserve, coyness, affected stiffness of manners and scrupulous nicety.
Less modest than the speech of prudes.
It's a shame that this word gained became associated with imposing Bigots due to of traditional values because I believe the other alternative, Lady is better reserved as the female counterpart for Lord. Nobody calls a male without legitimate claim by means of heritage or authority a Lord, so it strikes me as sexist to call females ladies. It is disrespectful to men and perhaps even more importantly, the conflation diminishes the respectability of the title for the women who deserve it.
Although it is odd for somebody to suggest that more patriarchal times would disparage men, it seems evident when comparing the words ladylike and lordlike. Ladylike means the following:
- Like a lady in manners; genteel; well bred.
- Soft; tender; delicate.
Lordlike by means of comparison is
- Becoming a lord.
- Haughty; proud; insolent.
However I will note that it is perhaps the actual difference in behaviors exhibited by Ladies and Lords that accounts for the difference, rather than assumption of inherent behavioral difference between the genders. I can not certainly know, as I have never knowingly met even one aristocratic Lady or aristocratic Lord and have certainly not during the time of an aristocracy, when it was most relevant.
That is not to say we should not be respectable to women but perverting the definition of Prude (2) into what it is considered today (3) does not seem to be so especially reverent. Everybody deserves just consideration for their actual merits. Since it is the latest Public Domain revision, Webster's Revised Unabridged 1913 Dictionary has become fairly widespread, so I hope we can see at least some degree of reversion on the matter.
It is worth noting that I would still prefer to consider a prude Ladylike, than Prudent despite etymology due to definitions. As far as I know, Prudence has always referred to gender neutral virtues. Being Ladylike only requires that a person be like a Lady, as a Prude would be. It seems odd to me that a prude wouldn't refer to any prudent person
Most definitions come from Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language 1828
Dictionary popularity trend speculation based upon A Collaborative Literary Creation and Control A Socio-Historic, Technological and Legal Analysis Chapter 1 regarding Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913). (Hampshire College)
protected by user2683 Nov 11 '12 at 19:25
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