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tom +‎ girl. The "girlish boy" sense was formed as an antonym of tomboy; the "boyish girl" sense is an alteration of "tomboy" to reinforce that the referent is a girl.


tomgirl (plural tomgirls)

  1. A boy who behaves in a typically girlish manner.
    • 1969, Harry Chapman, Sexual maneuvers and stratagems, page 121:
      Homosexual stirrings in children before puberty are very difficult to evaluate; most small boys with signs of effeminacy probably do not become homosexuals as adults and most tomgirls become heterosexual.
    • 1998, Claudine Griggs, S/He: Changing Sex and Changing Clothes, page 12:
      This tactic didn't work, so several weeks later, in a variation on a theme, I reported to two girls on the playground "I'm a tomgirl," calculating that if tomboys exist, tomgirls must also, and I must be one. That didn't work either, []
    • 2003, a comment by a child, reported by William A. Corsaro in We are Friends, Right?:
      Delia says, “If you play with girls, then you are a tomgirl!”
  2. A tomboy, a girl who behaves in a typically boyish manner.
    • 1998, Richard Ford, The Granta Book of the American Short Story, page 308:
      To anybody else it's pretty silly: love. Why should I feel a loss? How am I bereft? She was never mine; she was a fiction, always a golden tomgirl, barefoot, with an adolescent's slouch and a boy's taste for sports and fishing, []
    • 2006, Patricia Nell Warren, The lavender locker room: 3000 years of great athletes whose sexual orientation was different, page 175:
      What Babe made me feel was something different. My secret Montana tomgirl heart burst with pride that this Texas tomgirl could hit that silly little ball farther than Snead could. Even the comments by some people in town that Babe was "kinda weird" (another code word for lesbian) didn't []
    • 2007 February, in Vibe, volume 15, number 2, page 107:
      But she still wears her sweatpants in size XXXL, and hasn't lost that tomgirl touch. "A stylist kept trying to tell me to wear heels," she says. "You're not gonna be sliding and gliding in no heels."