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As far as I'm aware, both words translate into English as "woman". What's the difference in meaning between 女性 and 女の人?

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2 Answers 2

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There is no difference in meaning when the two words mean "woman/women".

To discuss the exception first, [女性]{じょせい}, has an extra meaning "feminine" or "female gender" when used in grammar terms for certain languages such as Romance languages. For instance, "la maison = 'house'" is a [女性名詞]{じょせいめいし} = "feminine noun" in French. We never call it an 女の人名詞 or 女名詞.

As with nearly all other pairs of Japanese-origin words and Chinese-origin words with the same or similar meanings, the main difference between the two groups is the formality of the words. On-reading, Chinese-origin words like 女性 are almost always used in more formal or technical situations than their kun-reading, Japanese-origin counterparts like 女の人.

Japanese children learn to use the word 女の人 years before they learn to actively use 女性. You would rarely meet a kid under 12 or so who uses 女性 on a regular basis. Even teenagers would rarely use 女性 in their daily conversations, but they would in compositions and presentations in schools.

Some adults use 女性 even in the most informal conversations, but using 女の人 would be far more common on those occasions. Only 女性 is used in newspapers, magazines, academic papers, etc., and using 女の人 in those is utterly out of the question.

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女性 means female (*for humans). (lit. the female kind; Cf. 男性 male / 中性 neuter)

女の人 means woman.

女の子 means girl.

女性 is a 漢語 (Chinese-origin word) which is often more formal. 女の人 is 和語(Japanese original word).

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