There are numerous terms to divide males and females in different groups in terms of their characteristics, e.g. gentleman, dandy, lad and lady, tomboy/girl, gamine.
When it comes to age classes though the list is exhaustive. Males can be divided into ‘boys’ and ‘men’, the term ‘guys’ somewhat allows the denotation of males in-between, maybe of around 16-25 years. The female ‘equivalents’ for ‘boy’ and ‘man’ are ‘girl’ (“usually a child or adolescent, calling a grown woman a ‘girl’ may be a compliment or insult, sometimes used as an euphemism for virgin”) and ‘woman’ (“adult female”). However, despite ‘guy’ not being completely gender-neutral, there is no such word that can be used for females that are ‘not a girl, not yet a woman’ (sorry if you now have Britney Spears stuck in your head).
Seems this phenomenon isn’t uncommon (at least in Germanic and Romance languages)
I asked friends what they associated with the words ‘girl’ and ‘woman’. ‘Girl’ was said to rather refer to very young females and ‘woman’ was associated with more mature, experienced and wise females. So calling myself a girl feels wrong because I am no longer a kid in that sense, but referring to myself as a woman doesn’t feel quite right either as I am not that …’wise’ yet ;). But maybe that’s just me? Time for a neologism!? Any suggestions?
dedicated to a good old feminist friend; you know who you are… 🙂