For males, it's gentleman; and for females?

  • 1
    Was going to reply Madame but then realized that's for Messer. By the way, I don't see how "analogy" tag relates to gender.
    – Christian
    Jan 20, 2011 at 11:55
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    As an aside, my 19th century French dictionary has the following definition for gentleman: “title given in England to any well-educated man”, which I thought was kind of nice...
    – F'x
    Jan 20, 2011 at 14:24
  • I would avoid using those kind of sex-specific nouns unless I knew my audience was OK with them.
    – Nick
    Jan 20, 2011 at 19:34
  • That's so simple question. But good to have it here
    – IsmailS
    Jan 21, 2011 at 9:01

3 Answers 3


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.

  • I heard from an old lady a reallady would be the best word
    – rbhattarai
    Jan 20, 2011 at 7:42
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    @rbhattrai: The term reallady doesn't exist; although you can sound pompous by saying something like: "She's (you're) a real lady". The definition of "real lady" and "perfect gentleman" are subjective.
    – Sid
    Jan 20, 2011 at 8:42
  • @rbhattarai Sometimes "real lady" means "having female organs" in addition to identifying as female. Pretty much anything involving gender is a wide, deep and densely packed minefield of mixed meanings (and extreme sensitivity to vicariously perceived slights). As Sid indicated, saying "that's a real lady" is usually intended to be deliberately over-the-top and pretend-pompous.
    – zxq9
    Dec 1, 2015 at 3:15

Lady is the term, although the term gentlewoman exists.

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    @iamsid: Gentlewoman sounds a little archaic to me, like something out of a Jane Austen novel [though I can't quote it here :-)]. Perhaps they used gentlewoman to distinguish it from lady, so it didn't sound like the title. I have never heard the word gentlewoman being used in speech.
    – Tragicomic
    Jan 20, 2011 at 9:23
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    I wouldn't say gentlewoman is Jane Austin. Much older than that (or perhaps newer, pretending to be older). Medieval fantasy, perhaps.
    – TRiG
    Jan 20, 2011 at 10:13
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    Quite an amiable woman would be Austen? :)
    – zoul
    Jan 21, 2011 at 8:56
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    @Tragicomic, @TRiG: The term exists in Shakespeare, for example: When didst thou see me heave up my leg and make water against a gentlewoman's farthingale? (Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act IV Scene 4, and no I didn't just make that up!). In addition a number of other plays have a character known only as "Gentlewoman" :-)
    – psmears
    Feb 18, 2011 at 21:30
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    I would expect "gentlewoman" to mean a high-born woman (as "gentleman" once meant a high-born man).
    – Charles
    May 26, 2011 at 18:45

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:

LA'DY-LIKE, adjective

  1. Like a lady in manners; genteel; well bred.
  2. Soft; tender; delicate.

Lordlike by means of comparison is

LORD'LIKE, adjective

  1. Becoming a lord.
  2. 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

Prude is further cross-referenced with Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) and Merriam-Webster Online for purposes of analyzing the progressive diminishing of the word.

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)

  • "Lady" is a homonym. One definition is the counterpart to gentleman, one definition is the counterpart to lord.
    – mfoy_
    Jun 16, 2015 at 19:08
  • In this case, I'm paying more attention to the pretenses of the overall entry than a specific definition. Do notice that the royal definition came first and is even still understood, so all of the other definitions are in reference to that.
    – Tonepoet
    Jun 16, 2015 at 19:31
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    While a man might be flattered, or at least not insulted, by being called a gentleman, I do not think the same would be true of a woman when given an appellation which denotes -- by the very definition you quote -- coyness and affected stiffness. Furthermore, the word is almost certainly going to be misunderstood (from your perspective) in contemporary speech, and likely to give offense, so suggesting it to a non-native speaker (who himself offered "reallady"!) is dangerous and bad advice. If you don't like the misapplication of title, then gentlewoman is available, per @sid.
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 16, 2015 at 19:59
  • The warning mitigates against the dangers of an insult that is mostly mild. The question was asked in 2011 by an unregistered user, unlikely to revisit, so this is not a direct address too. We may only have one topic to a subject, so knowing this definition, I felt a deep analysis of the word might be interesting to others. On that matter, I think we should parse 'affected stiffness of attitude' as a whole to mean 'rigid code of conduct' and coyness to mean chasteness, which aside from being subjective values, are very gentlemanly traits. Also consider the other virtues, like genteelness.
    – Tonepoet
    Jun 16, 2015 at 21:44

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