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From Middle English sche, scho, hyo, ȝho (she), whence also Scots she, sho.

Probably from Old English hēo, hīo, hīe (she)[1][2] (whence dialectal English hoo), with an irregular change in stress from hēo to heō /hjoː/, then a development from /hj-/ to /ç/ to /ʃ-/,[3][4] similar to the derivation of Shetland from Old Norse Hjaltland. In this case, she is from Proto-West Germanic *hiju, from Proto-Germanic *hijō f (this, this one), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱe-, *ḱey- (this, here), and is cognate with Saterland Frisian jo, ju, West Frisian hja, North Frisian , Danish hun, Swedish hon; more at he.

A derivation from Old English sēo, sīo, sīe (the", occasionally "she) is also possible, though less likely.[2][3][4] In that case, sēo would have undergone a change in stress from sēo to seō /sjoː/, then a change from /sj-/ to /ʃ-/, similar to the derivation of sure from Old French seur.[4][5] It would then be cognate to Dutch zij and German sie.

Neither etymology would be expected to yield the modern vocalism in /iː/ (the expected form would be shoo, which is in fact found dialectally). It may be due to influence from he[1], but both hēo and sēo have rare variants (hīe and sīe) that may give modern English /iː/.[4][6]



she (third-person singular, feminine, nominative case, oblique and possessive her, possessive hers, reflexive herself)

  1. (personal) The female (typically) person or animal previously mentioned or implied.
    I asked Mary, but she said that she didn't know.
    After the cat killed a mouse, she left it on our doorstep.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Qveene. [], London: [] [John Wolfe] for VVilliam Ponsonbie, OCLC 960102938, book II, canto IX:
      Goodly she entertaind those noble knights, / And brought them vp into her castle hall []
    • 1917, Anton Chekhov, Constance Garnett, transl., The Darling and Other Stories[1], Project Gutenberg, published 9 September 2004, →ISBN, page 71:
      The mother, Ekaterina Pavlovna, who at one time had been handsome, but now, asthmatic, depressed, vague, and over-feeble for her years, tried to entertain me with conversation about painting. Having heard from her daughter that I might come to Shelkovka, she had hurriedly recalled two or three of my landscapes which she had seen in exhibitions in Moscow, and now asked what I meant to express by them.
  2. (personal, sometimes endearing) A ship or boat.
    She could do forty knots in good weather.
    She is a beautiful boat, isn’t she?
  3. (personal, dated, sometimes endearing, old-fashioned) A country, or sometimes a city, province, planet, etc.
    She is a poor place, but has beautiful scenery and friendly people.
  4. (personal, endearing or poetic, old-fashioned) Any machine or thing, such as a car, a computer, or (poetically) a season.
    She only gets thirty miles to the gallon on the highway, but she’s durable.
    • 1928, The Journal of the American Dental Association, page 765:
      Prodigal in everything, summer spreads her blessings with lavish unconcern, and waving her magic wand across the landscape of the world, she bids the sons of men to enter in and possess. Summer is the great consummation.
  5. (personal, nonstandard) A person whose gender is unknown or irrelevant (used in a work, along with or in place of he, as an indefinite pronoun).
    • 1990, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow
      Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen. For a child, it could be placing with trembling fingers the last block on a tower she has built, higher than any she has built so far; for a swimmer, it could be trying to beat his own record; for a violinist, mastering an intricate musical passage.

Usage notesEdit

  • Since at least the 1920s and 30s, some gay or queer men refer to other gay or queer men and/or themselves with she/her pronouns, as well as with other feminine terms such as Miss and girl, to signal their sexuality rather than their gender identity;[7] this has sometimes been termed "the gay she":[8][9]

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit


See alsoEdit



  1. (African-American Vernacular) Synonym of her


she (plural shes)

  1. A female.
    Pat is definitely a she.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Roger Lass (1992), “Phonology and Morphology”, in Norman Blake, editor, Cambridge History of the English Language, volume II, pages 118-119
  2. 2.0 2.1 she, pron.¹, n., and adj.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2013.
  3. 3.0 3.1 R. D. Fulk (2012) An Introduction to Middle English: Grammar and Texts, pages 64-65
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Cecily Clark, The Peterborough Chronicle, 1070-1154 (1970), page lxvi-lxvii: "Most favoured recently has been derivation from heo/hie, though a chain of development [hi] > [hj] > [ç] > [ʃ]. The decisive change [ç] > [ʃ] has been various explained, either as an example of a Norse sound-change found elsewhere only in a few place-names (the so-called "Shetland theory") or as substitution of a common initial phoneme for a rare one, linked with the need to maintain the distinction both from masculine he and from second-person plural ȝe. Geographical distribution ofh- and sch- forms during the Middle English period is said to support derivation from stress-shifted [hjè]. [... There] still seems, however, something to be said for the older theory put forward in NED: that scæ developed from sie, through [sjè]. Certainly the demonstrative seo was used as an emphatic pronoun, as, for instance, in Sermo in Festis S. Marie; and, although the variant nom. sing. sie is regularly used only in the Vespasian Psalter Gloss (once in Rushworth St. Matthew), such forms as sy ea in the E Preface (beside DF seo) and si [...] in the Northhamptonshire Geld-Roll suggest that it may have been current in Peterborough usage as well. This theory explains better than that of derivation from stress-shifted heo/hie the coexistence of sch- and h-forms in the same text, as in Sir Gawain (scho and ho) and William of Palerne (sche and he). Its weakness lies in failing to explain why the [ʃ], regular in the pronoun, never occurs in the demonstrative [...]"
  5. ^ E. E. Wardale, An Introduction to Middle English (1937 [2016]), chapter VI (pp. 91-92 and notes), covers other proposed explanations, including that it is from a mixture of both hēo and sēo
  6. ^ Angus Cameron, Ashley Crandell Amos, Antonette diPaolo Healey, editors (2018), “hē, hēo, hit”, in Dictionary of Old English: A to I  , Toronto: University of Toronto, OCLC 213811593.
  7. ^ Greville G. Corbett, The Expression of Gender (2013), page 26: "There are uses of she to refer to people who are attributed and claim male sex. Rudes and Healy 1979 give many examples collected in their ethnolinguistic investigation among gay males in Buffalo, NY."
  8. ^ Kirby Conrod, "Pronouns in motion", in Lavender Linguistics (2018), page 11
  9. ^ Anna T., Opacity - Minority - Improvisation: An Exploration of the Closet Through Queer Slangs and Postcolonial Theory (→ISBN, 2020), pages 84-85




A derivative of shi.


she m (indefinite plural she, definite singular sheu, definite plural shetë)

  1. undrying rivulet

Related termsEdit




  1. Nonstandard spelling of shē.
  2. Nonstandard spelling of shé.
  3. Nonstandard spelling of shě.
  4. Nonstandard spelling of shè.

Usage notesEdit

  • English transcriptions of Mandarin speech often fail to distinguish between the critical tonal differences employed in the Mandarin language, using words such as this one without the appropriate indication of tone.



From Old Irish is ed (it is so). Compare Irish sea, Scottish Gaelic seadh.


she (dependent form nee)

  1. Present/future copula form
    She ynseyder eh Juan.John is a teacher.
    (definition: predicate is indefinite)
    She Juan yn ynseyder.John is the teacher.
    (identification: predicate is definite)
    She mish honnick eh.It's me who saw him.
    (cleft sentence)
    She Juan ta ny ynseyder.It's John who is a teacher.
    (cleft sentence)

Usage notesEdit

Used in present and future sentences for identification or definition of a subject as the person/object identified in the predicate of the sentence. Used to introduce cleft sentences, which are extremely common in Manx. It is not a verb. For the particle that introduces adjectives, see s'.

She has no past tense; the appropriate conjugation of ve must be used instead.

  • Shen va'n soilshey firrinagh.
    That was the true light.

Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Alternative form of sche