I was reading the Wikipedia's page on RMS Titanic and just noticed numerous references to the ship by possessive her.

Why don't they simply use "its" for Titanic?

  • 1
    I don`t know but the same applies to cars.
    – anouk
    Apr 8, 2018 at 19:07
  • 3
    This is a well-established meaning of the feminine pronoun, listed in most dictionaries. (See also Cambridge.)
    – J.R.
    Apr 8, 2018 at 19:14
  • By tradition, all naval vessels, both small and large, are considered female. I doubt very much this tradition is limited to English speakers.
    – Andrew
    Apr 8, 2018 at 19:14
  • So, is it incorrect to use "its" for them? Apr 8, 2018 at 19:16
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    @OmidR - I can understand that, but I wouldn’t argue that vehemently. You should poke around and see how many other dictionaries call it old-fashioned. If you start at OneLook, you’ll have plenty to examine. AH uses a Bruce Springsteen quote as a usage example.
    – J.R.
    Apr 8, 2018 at 19:22

2 Answers 2


In English, especially in a poetic description, ships are referred to as "she". This may be--no, it must be--because the owners of the ships, yachts, and ferries as well, compare their beauty and elegance with those of women.

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    It might be elegance; it might also be fondness, or it might even be temperament. Whatever it is, it’s an interesting quirk of the language. English, she is a strange language indeed.
    – J.R.
    Apr 8, 2018 at 19:34
  • @J.R. "English, she is a strange language indeed". Do you mean that speaking of any other language, he may not be strange? Pardon my ignorance, but "Could languages really be sorted out by the gender?" A bewildered learner asks.
    – Victor B.
    Apr 8, 2018 at 19:50
  • Were it not for the OP’s question, I don’t think I would have used a gender pronoun at all. I was merely making a humorous comment based on the context. My normal way of saying this would be: English is indeed a strange language.
    – J.R.
    Apr 8, 2018 at 23:10

It Is because she (ship, country, and vehicle) carry people the same way mothers do, so both are compared the same way.

  • 1
    Would be better if you add sources/reference.
    – shin
    Jul 23, 2019 at 8:33

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