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In the 14th century, female appeared in English with such spellings as femel, femelle, and female. The word comes from the Latin femella, meaning “young woman, girl,” which in turn is based on femina, meaning “woman.” In English, the similarity in form and sound between the words female and male led people to use only the female spelling. This closeness also led to the belief that female comes from or is somehow related to male. However, apart from the influence of male on the modern spelling of female, there is no link between the origins of the two words.

early 14c., from Old French femelle (12c.) "woman, female," from Medieval Latin femella "a female," from Latin femella "young female, girl," diminutive of femina "woman" (see feminine ).

Sense extended in Vulgar Latin from humans to female of other animals. Spelling altered late 14c. on mistaken parallel of male . As an adjective, from early 14c. Reference to sockets, etc., is from 1660s.

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