Although we’ll occasionally hear the term “fellow” used to depict a female, like in the song “for she’s a jolly good fellow”, this is often considered quite masculine. Therefore, we’d occasionally prefer a feminine alternative. For that reason, this article will be highlighting appropriate female synonyms for the term “fellow”.
What Is The Female Version Of “Fellow”?
While the term “fellow” is applicable to women, it’s often that we feel the need to provide a more gender-specific alternative. In this article, we will be going over the following ten terms, their definitions and the appropriate use of them:
The preferred version that we will be highlighting for the purposes of this article is “lady”. This is because the term “lady” best replaces the term “fellow” when we are speaking about a female. We can use the term “lady” to refer to an older woman or a young child.
We often refer to a woman as a “lady” in a higher social position, however, this does not always have to be the case. Cambridge Dictionary defines a “lady” as a polite or old-fashioned way of referring to or talking to a woman.
We will occasionally see small girls referred to as “little ladies”, making this term very applicable for any age group.
We will now go over the following examples that highlight the use of the term “lady”:
- Hey there, little lady – just where do you think that you are off to?
- Try to act a little more like a young lady and less like a wild animal – would you?
- Thomas, could you please come downstairs? There’s a young lady here to speak with you!
Another excellent alternative that we can use is “woman”, although, we would not typically refer to a small child as a “woman”. Cambridge Dictionary defines “woman” as an adult female human being – making it a more applicable term for an adult.
However, we can refer to female adolescence or older female children as “young women”.
Here are a few examples to go over that highlight the use of this particular term:
- She’s an incredibly sweet, kind and nurturing woman – she would make the perfect teacher.
- A woman with a clipboard stopped us in the mall to ask if we would be willing to answer a survey for a gift card.
- That new movie is about the relationship between a woman and her dying daughter, which sounds absolutely heartbreaking.
We can choose to use the term “gal” similarly to all of our other alternative terms. Cambridge Dictionary defines the term “gal” as a woman or girl. This makes this term very applicable when we are referring to a female of any age category.
Although, we will often see younger girls or young women referred to as a “gal”, over an elderly or senior woman.
The following examples showcase how we can use this term in a sentence:
- She’s just an old-fashioned gal and we love to tease her that she was born in the wrong decade.
- What do you think of that sweet young gal who just moved in next door to us?
- My gal is a real gem – she’s got the largest heart and is always thinking of others.
While we often see the term “girl” used when specifically referring to a young female child, however, we can appropriately use this term to describe any female. Cambridge Dictionary defines “girl” as a female child or young woman, especially one still at school.
“Girl” is also defined as a female child or, more generally, a female of any age – proving the ability to use this term quite fluidly, regardless of age.
We will now look over a few examples that highlight the use of this term:
- The sweetest little girls showed my son around the kindergarten classroom, so I made these cookies for them as a thank you.
- Our high school’s girls’ soccer team has remained undefeated for the last two years.
- My girl is too good for me, she’s my world and means everything to me.
We can use the term “lass” quite consistent with our other alternatives. “Lass” is a term that’s more commonly utilized in countries like Scotland, Ireland or Northern Britain, however, it is an appropriate term for someone anywhere in the world to use.
Cambridge Dictionary defines a “lass” as a girl or young woman, which makes this term excellent for a female of any age group.
For additional clarity on how to use this term, we can look over the following examples:
- He had married a lass from Wales at a very young age, which unfortunately ended in divorce.
- The lass could afford so little food, that she ended up fainting in the middle of her shift from exhaustion.
- I am grateful every day for the loving lass in my life and all she is willing to do for our family.
Another superb alternative that we can choose to use in place of “fellow” is “gentlewoman”. Cambridge Dictionary defines a “gentlewoman” as a woman who belongs to a high social class, or who is kind, polite, and honest. This makes “gentlewoman” an excellent choice, while accurately describing a female person.
We would more often than not, choose to use the term “gentlewoman” to refer to a young or adult woman, as opposed to a young child.
Here are a few examples to look over, that accurately use this particular term in a sentence:
- We will always address the congresswoman as a gentlewoman when speaking to her outside of parliament meetings.
- She may have been slightly strict, but Mrs. Robinson was a gentlewoman through and through.
- It’s best to remain a gentlewoman whenever you can, even in moments of adversity or trouble.
“Miss” is another term we can use to refer to a woman or girl in a more feminine way. Cambridge Dictionary defines “miss” as a title used before the family name or full name of a single woman who has no other title.
We can also consider the term “miss” to be defined as a form of address to a girl or young woman, especially one whose name is unknown to us.
We can now look over the following examples for further clarity on the use of this term:
- Excuse me, Miss, but I believed that you dropped this when getting off of the train.
- Miss Carter was my most favourite teacher that I was ever fortunate enough to be taught by – she genuinely loved her students.
- Would you be able to direct me to the nearest exit, Miss?
“Madam” is another alternative term that we can use, although, it is quite formal in nature. Cambridge Dictionary defines the term “madam” as a polite word used to address a woman or a title for a woman used before a position.
We can consider the term “madam” an excellent way to address a woman whose name we do not know. We may also refer to a girl or an adolescent female as a “young madam”.
For additional information on the use of this specific term, here are a few examples to read through:
- May I carry your luggage for you, Madam?
- Young Madam, it seems as though you’re being requested in the Great Hall by your father.
- I’m sorry, Madam, but we do have to go by the company policies and rules, despite your opinion.
The term “filly” has long referred to a young female horse, with Cambridge Dictionary defining it as such. However, at one point a “filly” became a term to describe a lively or rambunctious young girl or woman. This makes this term applicable as a substitute.
Although, we should remember that not every girl or woman would appreciate the use of this term, as it can be seen as consistent with “Heffer”, which became a derogatory term towards heavy women, coming from a female cow. This makes this term quite dated and not as commonly used in the present day.
We can look over the following examples that use this particular term in a sentence:
- Every fella needs his filly, doesn’t he?
- She’s a sweet little filly, but she does have a bit of a mouth on her when she’s angry.
- I don’t appreciate being referred to as a filly because I find it mildly offensive.
The final alternative term that we will look over is “Sheila”. This is a very commonly used term in Australia and New Zealand, referring to a woman or girl of any age. Despite it not being as common in other countries, “Sheila” is a very appropriate term to use.
Cambridge Dictionary defines a “Sheila” as a girl or woman.
For our final examples, we will look over sentences including the term “Sheila”:
- Oi! Young Sheila! It seems that you’ve dropped your bandana -here you are!
- She was a gorgeous Sheila; I haven’t seen a woman look that good in a long time.
- Sheila used to refer to women with Irish heritage in Australia, but it’s now a generalized term for any woman or girl.
Are “Fellow” And “Fella” Gender Neutral Terms?
Yes, both “fellow” and “fella” should be thought of as gender-neutral terms. A “fellow” is considered to be a peer or comrade. Peers were once assumed to always be male, however, that is not the case in the present day.
The term “fellow” mainly became interpreted as a gendered term because of the association that began with male-only fellowships and organizations.
You may also like: 10 Best Ways To Refer To A Young Woman Without Insulting Her
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.