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Many words come in male/female pairs, such as maternal/paternal, to take a familiar example.

This week we explore such pairings where one counterpart is much less well-known than the other.

"Senile", a familiar word, originally meant "like an old man". The feminine counterpart is
anile - old-womanish; like a doddering old woman.
quote:
It is the anile priggishness of the Puritan marm, lips pursed, seeking nits to pick.
--Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America by Robert Hughes (Oxford University Press 1993)

That puerility and anility which were presently to find, for the time, final expression in the Della Cruscan school, displayed themselves in Hayley with less extravagance, with less sentimentality and with less hopelessly bad taste ..., but still unmistakably.
-- Cambridge History of English and American Literature
 
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A married man might have a mistress.
A married woman might have a cicisbeo.

cicisbeo – the young male lover/escort/admirer of a married woman. The definition is imprecise; the term covers a wide range of male admires, from hangers-on to full-fledged lovers.

This definition comes from Depraved English by Novobatzky and Shea (1999). The major dictionaries tend to be coy, as where Web. Rev. defines cicisbeo as "a professed admirer of a married woman."
quote:
"I recalibrated my attitude to the whole matter of marital infidelity," he explains. He takes satisfaction in the word "cicisbeo", a married woman's lover, and presents [it] as an argument for acting on it when he meets his Selina. It's "a very sophisticated word, for a sophisticated idea," he instructs her. "You can be civilized without being ... puritanical"
-- Book Review by Katherine A. Powers, Boston Globe, April 30, 1996
 
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You might not be aware that hysteria is a feminine word.

hysterical - 1615, from L. hystericus "of the womb," from Gk. hysterikos "of the womb, suffering in the womb," from hystera "womb." Originally defined as a neurotic condition peculiar to women and thought to be caused by a dysfunction of the uterus.

The male counterpart-word is tarassis – male hysteria. How interesting that our language persists in using the female term almost exclusively.
quote:
Elaine Showalter … argues that male hysteria in particular was always labelled in such a way as to differentiate it from 'hysteria' as a woman's affliction. So it was called 'obsessional neurosis', 'shell shock', or 'post traumatic shock syndrome'.
-– From the report by Freud Musuem, London, of its sponsored lecture
 
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sororal - like or befitting a sister; "sisterly kindness"; "sororal concern". Contrast "fraternal".

"Sororal" can easily be remembered by thinking of collegiate sororities and fraternities.
quote:
Despite the combative environment that results from sisters who envy or are threatened by their siblings’ talent, the relationship between the sisters grounds them emotionally, socially, artistically, and intellectually, and provides them with a sororal community in which they can act out their fears and anxieties, and negotiate their expected social roles.
-–Lisa R. Barry, The Review of Communication, April 2002

"Sororal" ought to be a very useful word, expressing a familiar and important kind of bonding, but oddly it is quite rare. It has only 1,610 google hits (contrast 460,000 hits for "fraternal"), and even of that number, very few concern the sisterly relationship.¹

This is a word that should be dusted off and put to good use!

------
¹ Most concern "frateral/sororal organizations", or "sororal marriage", that is, a man married to two sisters simultaneously or sequentially.
 
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andropause – the male equivalent of menopause
An alternate term is viropause, a term which I gather is used chiefly in Great Britain.
quote:
Middle-aged men should receive hormone therapy to treat the andropause - the male equivalent of the menopause, say doctors. But there is debate amongst the medical profession over whether the male menopause actually exists. Dr Malcolm Carruthers, chairman of the Andropause Society, said the condition should be recognised and treated and said it was "grossly unfair" that men were discriminated against. Dr. Carruthers estimates the andropause affects around 50% of men in their fifties.
-- BBC News, Dec 5, 2000
 
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This does not fit exactly into this thread but, frankly, I don't really think it deserves one of its own.

I heard the word "positivity" for the first time last night. While no maleness/femaleness dichotomy exists for the word, it is the obvious opposite of the far more often heard "negativity." Outside of the world of electricity, though, I doubt anyone would even consider using this term, preferring instead to talk around it by citing someone's "upbeat nature" or something of that sort.
 
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muliebrity - the state of being a woman or of possessing full womanly powers (correlate of virility). Hence also effeminancy; softness

quote:
Love and adoration are the most underestimated powers delivered by automobiles. The Corvette has the power to entice, mesmerize, and seduce. The muliebrity of the styling, coupled with the virility of the engine, provide a magical mix.
– proposed advertising and promotion campaign, R. Ewing, D. Kirkman, E. Tan (1995)
 
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We end our week of masculine/feminine pairs by noting the word phallic. That word is familiar, but what is the counterpart female word?

yonic - having to do with the vagina (from Sanskit, I believe)

I'll defer providing a sample sentence, since this word appears in one of the samples for next week's theme.

Our theme for the next week will be words used in a particular parody of a song from Gilbert and Sullivan, "I Am The Very Model of a Modern Major-General". The parody begins tomorrow. wink
 
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