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.
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."
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.
sororal - like or befitting a sister; "sisterly kindness"; "sororal concern". Contrast "fraternal".
"Sororal" can easily be remembered by thinking of collegiate sororities and fraternities.
"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.
andropause – the male equivalent of menopause
An alternate term is viropause, a term which I gather is used chiefly in Great Britain.
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.
muliebrity - the state of being a woman or of possessing full womanly powers (correlate of virility). Hence also effeminancy; softness
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.