I have some examples as follows:

  1. He is a man
  2. He is a male

  3. She is a woman

  4. She is a female

What is the difference between "man" and "male", "woman" and "female" in this examples, and by extension, in other situations in English? Does they have the same meaning and can be replace for each other, right?

  • Male and female can be used as nouns or adjectives; man and woman are only nouns, though they can be used as attributive nouns: e.g., "The Man Show," "it's a woman thing," etc.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 15:33
  • Can you demonstrate how you have used a dictionary.
    – James K
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 15:33
  • 2
    Your selected answer is wrong and is also misleading for readers. Can you change your selected answer, please? Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 15:53
  • He can be male and not be a man, if he is a male minor. She can be female and not be a woman, if she is a female minor. They can be male or female and not be a man or woman if they are not a human being. They must be human to be a man or a woman. And, transgendered people can be men or women regardless of whether they are genetically male or female.
    – Dean F.
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 21:05

2 Answers 2


Man - an adult male person, as distinguished from a boy or a woman.

Male - pertaining to or characteristic of a male person; masculine

Woman - the female human being, as distinguished from a girl or a man

Female - relating to, or characteristic of a female person; feminine.

Woman and Man are nouns, Male and Female are genders.

Man is an adult person, of Male gender. Male is a man, no matter his age, color, style.. If he is a male, then he is a man.

Woman is an adult person, of Female gender. If you were born with woman specifications, then you are female, no matter your hair size, color, age..

Ok, have you ever played those games where you have to choose your character? It's like: Choose your gender! - And you have to choose between male or female, that's it, if you choose FEMALE, then you will probably be choosing *a human being with woman specifications. - And if you choose MALE, then you will probably be choosing *a human being with man specifications.


Male and female describe sexes. They can be applied to a person of that sex, or any type of animal that has different sexes.

Man and woman are specifically used to refer only to adult humans, not animals and not children. Children (and sometimes animals, particularly pets) are referred to as boy and girl.

There's also a distinction, particularly made in academia, in that man and woman more properly describe genders, not sexes, where sex is the biological component and gender the social component. That is, if one is born with male sex organs but is transgender as an adult, they would be called a woman even if they still have male sex organs.

That said, the distinction between gender and sex is still not commonly used in normal speech, although it is becoming more common.

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