feminine equivalent to mate, lad, pal

eleannor

Senior Member
Polish
Hi,

I've got a question - what is the feminine equivalent to words such as mate, lad, pal and so on and so forth?
 
  • lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    Um... chica? bitch/bee-yatch? dude? girl?

    Just kidding (well, I'm slightly sincere - these are all words that certain girls would use to refer to their female friends in different contexts). If you're looking for a slang word, you should probably be aware of the fact that different communities, ages, races, geographic areas, and levels of politeness all have different slang terms. It's impossible to answer this question without something more precise. What kind of slang do you want?
     

    eleannor

    Senior Member
    Polish
    That's a tricky question; let me tell a short story that answers it, in a sense.
    In class we were asked what would be the equivalent for 'sorry, mate' (said to a guy that someone accidentally bumps into), but said to a girl.
    That's why I'm actually not sure which slang I need.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    That's a tricky question; let me tell a short story that answers it, in a sense.
    In class we were asked what would be the equivalent for 'sorry, mate' (said to a guy that someone accidentally bumps into), but said to a girl.
    That's why I'm actually not sure which slang I need.
    Hi eleannor

    If I bumped into someone male, I would simply say "sorry". I definitely wouldn't say "sorry mate/lad/pal":eek:.

    If I bumped into someone female, I would also simply say "sorry".
     

    eleannor

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I was pretty surprised when I heard that, too :'D I mean, maybe my sense of English language if off here, but I would actually feel kind of offended if some stranger bumped into me and said 'sorry, mate' so colloquialy.
    But still, I have to find out what the female version of the word is; our professor is rather captious...
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Are you looking for a specifically British equivalent? I ask because in the US, unless one were being intentionally humorous, "sorry, mate" would be a very strange and rather affected thing to say, and "sorry, lad" would be downright bizarre.
     

    eleannor

    Senior Member
    Polish
    @GreenWhiteBlue, I believe so.
    However, if there is such an equivalent in American English, I'd be most pleased to hear it : D
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I was pretty surprised when I heard that, too :'D I mean, maybe my sense of English language if off here, but I would actually feel kind of offended if some stranger bumped into me and said 'sorry, mate' so colloquialy.
    But still, I have to find out what the female version of the word is; our professor is rather captious...
    Your professor may be captious, but to be honest, his question is unanswerable.

    Please refer him to this thread, if necessary:).

    EDIT: I think I may have heard someone (male) say to another male "sorry mate". But a female - and most males - would not say this. And there is no equivalent for what a male would say to a female, or a female would say to a female.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    In the US, in this kind of situation, if one were casually addressing a female with whom one is acquainted, and who was not going to bring a lawsuit against you for sex descrimination, or a job grievance for using 'demeaning' or 'overly familar' terms, you might say any of the following depending on your relationship, age, and location in the country:
    Sorry, honey (or sorry, hun for short)
    Sorry, dear
    Sorry, babe
    Sorry, sweetie

    You may even hear "sorry, mama", or "sorry, mami" (pronounced like "mommy"), especially from persons whose first language is Spanish.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    In the US, in this kind of situation, if one were casually addressing a female with whom one is acquainted, and who was not going to bring a lawsuit against you for sex descrimination, or a job grievance for using 'demeaning' or 'overly familar' terms, you might say any of the following depending on your relationship, age, and location in the country:
    Sorry, honey (or sorry, hun for short)
    Sorry, dear
    Sorry, babe
    Sorry, sweetie

    You may even hear "sorry, mama", or "sorry, mami" (pronounced like "mommy"), especially from persons whose first language is Spanish.
    Would you use any of those if you accidentally bumped into someone, GWB? (I can't imagine that you would....)
     

    Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    Babe and sweetie for me are best reserved for someone with whom one is sexually intimate. Honey and dear are borderline; both ring to me more like something you call your wife after 40 years of marriage, long after the babe and sweetie stage has passed.

    Of all these, hun is the one I can imagine having a friend say after bumping into me. I actually do have a friend who says "sorry, hun."

    But that doesn't mean it really corresponds to mate. The closest I can think of to "sorry mate" in English is "sorry, buddie," which would typically be for a male. To get the same feel for a woman, "chica" comes closest for me. But of course that's Spanish, used by some in the U.S.
     

    vorticella

    Member
    English, USA
    Where I live, "sorry ma'am" would be the polite thing to say. I'm not sure it would be as informal as mate/lad/pal comes across as, but it's certainly a normal response around here.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Would you use any of those if you accidentally bumped into someone, GWB? (I can't imagine that you would....)
    I wouldn't, because I am by nature stiff and formal, but my boss -- who is a very nice man -- habitually addresses women (including strangers) as "dear"*. He does it constantly, and he only means to be nice, but I keep telling him that he is going to get an EEO complaint one of these days...

    By the way, I asked the ladies in my office what they would use, and most of them agreed that they would say "honey" or "hon/hun"; in fact, I hear the secretary in my office saying "thanks, honey" all the time on the phone to female co-workers who are sending something or who have some information she needed.

    (* Is he only informal with women? Heavens, no; he addresses men as "pal" and "bud" in much the same way.)
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    People between maybe 18-35 up north could easily say "Sorry mate" or "Sorry lad", here. It wouldn't really be considered "proper" (in the sense of the word that's often used to describe manners and politeness), but some people are extremely colloquial with strangers (almost to the point that you could doubt they knew what 'formal' was, or that they would say anything different to anyone). There are a lot of people like that up here, and I guess I'm sort of used to it. However, also common, but spreading a much wider range is for a woman to say "Sorry love", mainly if the person is older than the person that says it. I've got friends who would also say "Sorry doll" or "Sorry chick", but I guess what most people would consider "a proper way to talk to strangers" doesn't exist that much where I am from, we're usually extremely informal, even to strangers.

    I've got no evidence for it but I'd expect if the other person was in a suit/really smart clothes, that might automatically change the formality and they might just say "Sorry" or "Excuse me", but generally day to day unless you're in the CBD communication is usually of people of the same sort of 'social level', if that makes sense.
     

    Tunalagatta

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Your professor may be captious, but to be honest, his question is unanswerable.

    Please refer him to this thread, if necessary:).

    EDIT: I think I may have heard someone (male) say to another male "sorry mate". But a female - and most males - would not say this. And there is no equivalent for what a male would say to a female, or a female would say to a female.

    Personally I don't use this kind of familiar term with complete strangers when I bump into them, either, but there are some English people who do, wouldn't you say? The ones I come across most often are "(my) love", "darling", and "sweetheart" (but, as lucas notes, there are many variations) - perhaps someone bumping into me would say, "Sorry, (my) love", or "Sorry, darling", "Sorry, sweetheart".

    Both men and women might say this to a woman; women might also say it to a man, but men would rarely say it to each other.
    I agree that, most of the time, people probably wouldn't say anything other than "Sorry," though. I'll test it out when I next go into town, anyway :).
     

    Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    The original poster didn't specify a stranger. It could be a friend--essentially, anyone to whom you would say "sorry, mate."

    I pictured "sorry, mate" primarily as something said to friends or people who are in a similar situation as you ie. a student to another, or one soldier to another. It does seem to have a presumption of intimacy that would make it odd when said to a stranger with whom the bumper didn't have at least something in common, even if only age or social class.
     

    djmc

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    In England a "woman of a certain age" might be addressed as missus. Thus "sorry missus". In many parts of Britain one may be addressed as an animal hen (Scotland), Pet (North East), duck (Midlands).
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    In England a "woman of a certain age" might be addressed as missus. Thus "sorry missus". In many parts of Britain one may be addressed as an animal hen (Scotland), Pet (North East), duck (Midlands).
    Even 'queen' in the North West, but I know people over 60-65 that still say this, nobody else younger says it, so it'll go when they do, but I heard it said loads of times when I went to a funeral recently. Actually I think Paul O'Grady used to say this on his TV show, too. He's from the NW region, too. Every area, every generation has their own preferences. This sort of level of language is prone to massive variation, you could probably fill a book with all the different options around the world.
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Just wanted to say that 'Sorry, mate' sounds very Australian to me. Like Loob, I'd probably just say 'Sorry' without a vocative, and if I wanted to show that I was very apologetic, maybe 'I'm so sorry' also without a vocative. When I was in Scotland as a young man, I was addressed as son a fair bit and I heard girls being addressed as hen or maybe lass​.
     

    Shmorge

    Member
    English
    If I bumped into someone male, I would simply say "sorry". I definitely wouldn't say "sorry mate/lad/pal":eek:.

    If I bumped into someone female, I would also simply say "sorry".

    This is a question that really depends on whether she's going to press charges or not.


    Seriously, I think the real answer is that many dialects have feminine versions of "mate, lad, pal", and some don't.

    Mate, lad, and pal, are all very informal in contrast to Sir. "Excuse me Sir" is perfectly suitable if you bump into a man. "Excuse me Ma'am, or Miss", would be a good fit in many cases if you bump into a woman. If you bump into a kid, I'm pretty sure it's fine to say "Watch it kid!", and if they are alone you can try to kick them.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think too many social, regional, and feminist complications enter into consideration here for us to be able to give a helpful blanket answer, other than that this is an issue over which foreigners, as well as native speakers, need to take care.

    I had a male friend who was in the habit of adressing most women over about fifteen as 'My Dear'. I was with him when he did it to a female police officer who was reprimanding him for parking on the pavement. She was extremely pissed off, and said very primly: I am not your Dear. She certainly wasn't after that, and he tells me that he's become more careful now.
     

    eleannor

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Had the lesson today - and now I know the answer. Apparently, what our professor wanted us to realise is that in colloquial terms, there is no equivalent to 'mate' (or to any other term such as pal, lad, buddy etc). And when there is no equivalent term, one must look for the right way of addressing in the level of politeness rathen than familiarity; so what he had on his mind was actually "sorry, ma'am", as vorticella suggested.
    Whether this is 'the one and correct' answer is not up to me, really; however, thanks to all the contribuants, I have definitely expanded my knowledge and vocabulary on slang addresses : D thank you all very much! It turned out to be quite an interesting question to ask ;)
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I was in a bar the other day and one bartender walked up to two women and asked, "What can I get you ladies?", and later another bartender asked the same two women, "What are you guys having?"

    I think a lot has to do with how you see yourself in relationship to the person you are speaking to.

    I would not say, "Listen buddy,..." to a police officer who had pulled me over to write me a ticket, but I might say that to the annoying guy on line behind me at Starbucks.

    So I would need more context to give a response to this question.
    ,
    In certain contexts, Chica's "bitch" might be entirely appropriate.
     

    that kid.

    New Member
    ENGLISH
    "I was pretty surprised when I heard that, too :'D I mean, maybe my sense of English language if off here, but I would actually feel kind of offended if some stranger bumped into me and said 'sorry, mate' so colloquialy.
    But still, I have to find out what the female version of the word is; our professor is rather captious..."

    One thing you must also take into acount is accents, In england most people have very sing-song accents (The midlands especialy). this means some words like sorry just sound very odd in our minds when blurted out on their own, the words "mate" is usually added one to mantian the natural rhythm of the individual's dialect. Another reason is, trying not to sound unnaturally polite and formal.

    In most cases its just people being friendly. Most people in England (in fact most of the UK) would use the words "sorry love", you might also hear "sorry hun". here in Manchester i often hear people say "sorry pet" (usually girls refering to either boys or girls).
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Around SE UK, "Sorry, mate." is quite common and no offence is taken.

    To a female (who at first glance and given the lighting conditions) appears to be under, say 35, "Sorry, Miss."

    For the older woman, "Sorry, madam."

    or

    "Sorry, missus." (Informal and if you suspect she will not take umbrage at this.)
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Everyone ~ and I mean literally everyone ~ in Manchester addresses me as mate ... and I loathe it. It's not that I dislike being addressed so informally by strangers (on the odd occasions some weirdo calls me sir I feel like literally throwing up), just that I have this totally irrational loathing of that particular word.
    What was the question again?
    Oh yes.
    I'd say love is the commonest female version in the northwest of England, and can (fairly) safely be used by any sex to any other sex.
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Reflecting on this thread, and what I might hear, as opposed to what I might say, I agree that I wouldn't bat an eyelid if someone barged into me and said - depending on the part of the UK I was in - "Sorry, love", "Sorry, darlin'", "Sorry, hen", or possibly even "Sorry, Missus".

    I confess, though, I would snort with laughter if anyone said "Sorry, Madam":rolleyes:.
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    In South East Queensland (and I think most of Australia), it is "Sorry, mate" if anyone bumps into anyone, male or female, young or old.

    But the rules change for people below the age of about 20. Though they are still addressed as "mate" by older people, they themselves address each other as "man" or "dude" if speaking boy to boy. (I don't think the Americanism is an improvement.) If the other party is a girl then they use the girl's name if they know it, otherwise nothing.

    In 40 years in Australia, I can only remember once hearing a girl referred to by the traditional term "Sheila", and that was when I got on a crowded train and the elderly conductor tipped me off that there still some vacant seats next to some "Sheilas" at the other end.
     
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