Muliebrity is the quality of being a woman. This word is sometimes used as a counterpart to virility, in an analogy with the counterparts of "feminine" and "masculine". The word is derived from Latin muliebritas ("womanhood") and mulier ("woman"). The Oxford English Dictionary (1st edition) noted it was "rare".
Muliebrity (miuliˌe•brǐti). rare. [ad. L. muliebrit-ās, f. muliebris : see M<small=2>ULIEBRAL.] Womanhood ; the characteristics or qualities of a woman.
- 1592 [?KYD] Soliman & Pers. IV. ii. The Ladies of Rhodes haue made their petition to Cupid to plague you aboue all..other, as one preiuditiall to their muliebritie.
- c 1693 Urquhart's Rabelais III. xxxii. 270 Individual Womanishness or Muliebrity.
- 1858 O. W. HOLMES Aut. Breakf.-t. ix. The second of the ravishing voices..had so much woman in it,— muliebrity, as well as femineity.
The American Heritage Dictionary adds that muliebrity is the "state of womanhood (in contrast with maidenhood)." In this sense, muliebrity is a state achieved by successful relationship with a man.
- He exercised his virility and she received her muliebrity.
Some thesauruses supply muliebrity among other approximate synonyms for womanhood and femininity. Vanderbilt University uses it in a slightly different way, offering a Muliebrity Award to recognize the achievements of women. In his book Mother Tongue (1990), author Bill Bryson describes it as meaning "the state of being a woman" .
The word came into a wider circulation after the book of Joni Arredia, although its occasional usage may be traced to much earlier times, e.g., in Al Purdy's poem Uncle Fred on Côte des Neiges (in Poems for All the Annettes (Toronto, 1962)).
I have thought so much about the girl
- 'muliebrity', American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.
- Vicki Bertram, 'Sujata Bhatt in Conversation', PN Review 138 (2001).
- Wordsmith Word of the Day entry.
- Arredia, Joni, Muliebrity: Qualities of a Woman, 1996, ISBN 0-9653203-1-6 (hardcover)