There are lots of words ending with the masculine suffix -man. So far, I haven't had any trouble with their feminine equivalents (most of them can be easily found in dictionaries).

Now I am having a trouble with the Brittish word "houseman" meaning " a male or female doctor who is still training, and who works in a hospital". I very much doubt that "housewoman" (or house (-) woman) might work at all in the meaning I'm going to use it.

So, is there a feminine equivalent for the word "houseman" like it is for the words chairman, horseman, postman, etc?

Since in AmE the synonym for the word houseman is intern, could it be possible to say a woman/girl intern or intern(n)ess, if the word exists at all?

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    'Intern' is gender neutral, like 'bartender' and unlike 'stewardess'.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 13:28
  • I've never come across the term. It sounds more like AmE. British hospital doctors are normally called junior doctors, registrars and consultants (in order of seniority).
    – Mick
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 13:37
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    @MickSharpe - Every dictionary I looked up the word in marks it as a BrE usage, this for one.
    – Victor B.
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 13:48
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    I've never heard houseman used in the US. We would tend to say "female intern". books.google.com/ngrams/… BTW, when I cite ngram, it's to corroborate my opinion as a native speaker, not to form it.
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 13:53
  • @TRomano - Thank you very much for the comment, but still the word does exist : "They had a son and lived in the UK for a couple of years, where Watsa worked as a hospital houseman and registrar." BBCJul 21, 2014 (from the vocabulary.com site's multiple example sentences with it).
    – Victor B.
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 14:09

1 Answer 1


I am not sure why you want a "feminine equivalent." The trend these days is to use gender neutral terms (flight attendant instead of either steward or stewardess).

If you must stipulate the gender, you can say a female intern. Woman intern would be less likely. And since girl, when applied to a female over 17, is seen as sexist by many but not all, I'd stay clear of that. Likewise intern(n)ess would come across as sexist, like stewardess. (Some people even avoid using actress.)

Note you could also just invent the word "homewoman". Presumably your context would show you are trying to use a "feminine equivalent" to houseman. English is not limited to what's in dictionaries, but to those who write in the language. That's why neologisms, or new words & expressions, are always possible.

Additional information:

Words ending with -man are not necessarily "masculine words". For instance, Fortune magazine reports:

Exclusive: From AOL Exec to Antarctic Explorer, Meet National Geographic's First Female Chairman

This usage also leads support to the term female intern and not woman intern.

Indeed, Oxford dictionary reports that such "gender-neutral terns" as chair and chairperson are "far less common than chairman."

Last, simply FYI (for your information), instead of houseman you can use house officer:

A qualified doctor practising under supervision in hospital in the first year after graduation.

Both houseman and house officer are "British" or "chiefly British."

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    You can say "a woman/girl intern or intern(n)ess" If for some reason you must stipulate the sex; you can also say "homewoman". Presumably your context would show you are trying to use a "feminine equivalent" to houseman. English is not limited to what's in dictionaries, but to those who write in the language. Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 14:44
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    Now you're answering my question. Why not do it in the right place - the answer box, ah?
    – Victor B.
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 15:01
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    Answer overhauled. Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 16:04
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    Thanks a lot, Alan, for an in-depth answer I liked very much. I was hoping to find something like this on the net but just couldn't.
    – Victor B.
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 17:10
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    NB: In British English usage an "intern" is almost always understood to be someone far far less skilled than a house doctor (who is qualified, albeit supervised). I have a lot of medics in the family and have never heard any of them refer to a qualified doctor as an intern. Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 23:23

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