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Masculine and feminines for animals?

I have a ferret, and she's female. I know that in French, she's furet, but like cats (chat/chatte), is there a feminine form? Is there only a specific set of animals with male and female forms? Why do they have female forms?

February 21, 2018



Most animals don't have noun alternatives - they are either masculine or feminine. A female ferret would be called un furet femelle and a male one would be un furet mâle.

Note that both chatte and chienne can be very offensive slang words too…

“chatte” = female cat ; very offensive word for female genitals.
“chienne” = female dog ; bitch



I was told that most animal names have either a masculine (un singe) or feminine (une girafe) gender that applies to both sexes and that as with most nouns where the gender is unknown, one goes with a masculine. It's only the most common animals (dogs, cats etc) that have separate genders. Of note, however, is that many times there are different names entirely for male and female animals, just like there is in English i.e. ram vs ewe , bull vs cow (un taureau vs une vache). Of interest is that because chatte (female cat) can have a negative connotation as in english, with female cats sometimes chat (male name) is used, with a further explanation example "un chat femelle". I just looked and there are a number of articles on the internet about the subject.


I'd love to know this too !


And in English a female ferret is called a "jill", but that doesn't mean anyone is going to understand you if you say you have one! I'd stick to "furet" unless you're among ferret lovers.

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