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A group of girls in Sri Lanka.

From Middle English gerle, girle, gyrle (young person of either sex), of uncertain origin. Probably from Old English *gyrle, *gyrele, from Proto-Germanic *gurwilaz, a diminutive form of Proto-Germanic *gurwijaz (compare North Frisian gör (girl), Low German Gör, Göre (child of either sex), German Göre (young child), dialectal Norwegian gorre, dialectal Swedish garre, gurre (small child)), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰer- (short)[1] (compare Old Irish gair (short), Ancient Greek χρεώ (khreṓ, need, necessity), χρήσθαι (khrḗsthai, to need), Sanskrit ह्रस्व (hrasva, short, small)).



girl (plural girls)

  1. A female child, adolescent, or young woman.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, in The Celebrity:
      No matter how early I came down, I would find him on the veranda, smoking cigarettes, or [] . And at last I began to realize in my harassed soul that all elusion was futile, and to take such holidays as I could get, when he was off with a girl, in a spirit of thankfulness.
    • 1934, Agatha Christie, chapter 3, in Murder on the Orient Express, London: HarperCollins, published 2017, page 27:
      The woman opposite him was a mere girl - twenty at a guess.
    • 2006, Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness, volume 3 of Scott Pilgrim
      Scott: Hey, it's our 8-month anniversary.
      Envy: Really? I can't even believe you remember that stuff!
      Scott: Whoa, wait a second... Am I the girl in this relationship?
      Envy: You totally are!
    • 2013 July 19, Mark Tran, “Denied an education by war”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 6, page 1:
      One particularly damaging, but often ignored, effect of conflict on education is the proliferation of attacks on schools [] as children, teachers or school buildings become the targets of attacks. Parents fear sending their children to school. Girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence.
  2. A young female animal.
  3. (often offensive) A woman, especially a young woman
  4. A female servant; a maid. (see usage notes)
  5. (uncommon, card games) A queen (the playing card.)
  6. (colloquial) A term of endearment. (see usage notes)
    • 1991, Stephen Fry, The Liar, pp. 8–9:
      'Now, girls,' continued Healey, 'you're very high-spirited and that's as it should be but I won't have you getting out of hand...' Setting a spatted foot on the bench that ran down the middle of the changing-room with elegant distain, Adrian began to flip through the pile of Y-fronts and rugger shorts with his cane.
  7. One's girlfriend.
    • Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Girl from Hollywood
      There isn't any guy going to steal my girl!
    • 1996, Elizabeth Wong, Kimchee and Chitlins: A Serious Comedy about Getting Along, page 74:
      I took my girl to the cinema to watch your American movies.
  8. One's daughter.
    Your girl turned up on our doorstep.
  9. (Britain, dialectal, obsolete) A roebuck two years old.
  10. (US, slang) Cocaine, especially in powder form.
    • 1969, Iceberg Slim, Pimp: The Story of My Life, Cash Money Content (2011), →ISBN, page 43:
      She had taught me to snort girl, and almost always when I came to her pad, there would be thin sparkling rows of crystal cocaine on the glass top of the cocktail table.
    • 1977, Odie Hawkins, Chicago Hustle, Holloway House (1987), →ISBN, page 175:
      Elijah nodded congenially to the early evening regulars in the Afro Lounge, headed straight for the telephone hung midway between the mens and womens, his nose smarting from a couple thick lines of recently snorted girl.
    • 2005, K'wan, Hoodlum, St. Martin's Press (2005), →ISBN, page 185:
      After about an hour or two of half-ass sex and snorting girl, Honey was zoned out. [] She flexed her still numb fingers, trying to find a warmth that didn't seem to come. Cocaine always made her numb.
    • For more examples of usage of this term, see Citations:girl.

Usage notesEdit

  • (any woman, regardless of her age): Calling a grown woman a "girl" may be considered either a compliment or an insult, depending on context and sensibilities. In some cases, the term is used as a euphemism for virgin, to distinguish a female who has never engaged in sexual intercourse (a "girl") from one who has done so (and is a woman). Even if the word "girl" in most cases is not meant to be derogatory , it may still be patronising sometimes, especially when used to address someone older than oneself.
  • (term of endearment): When used as a term of endearment, it can be used for someone female or, in some contexts, for someone male, such as the use within the gay community.


Derived termsEdit

Terms derived from girl

Pages starting with "girl".


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


  1. ^ Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, s.v. "girl" (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002).


girl (third-person singular simple present girls, present participle girling, simple past and past participle girled)

  1. (transitive) To feminize or girlify.
    • 2005, Leerom Medovoi, Rebels: Youth and the Cold War Origins of Identity (page 293)
      Quite different is the way in which the tomboy girled the rebel narrative. In recent years, queer theorists have taken a deep interest in the tomboy as a prefigure for the butch dyke.
    • 2011, Stephanie Harzewski, Chick Lit and Postfeminism
      One can argue that the genre “yuppified” the popular romance novel or perhaps “girled” the not especially gender-specific concept of the young urban professional.

See alsoEdit