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Submitted by on Jul 9, 2022

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A young female person, generally a youngster or teenager, is referred to as a girl. When a girl reaches adulthood, she is referred to be a woman. However, the term “girl” has different connotations, such as “young lady,” and is occasionally used interchangeably with “daughter” or “girlfriend.” The use of the word girl to refer to a woman might be disparaging in some situations. A word of affection used by an adult, generally a woman, to describe adult female companions is also known as “girl.” Showgirl, cowgirl, and schoolgirl are examples of compound words that contain the word girl.

In most societies, the treatment and status of girls are inextricably linked to the position of women. Girls may be unwanted by their parents in societies where women have a poor societal status, and the state may invest less in services for girls. Girls’ upbringing can range from nearly identical to that of males to total sex segregation and distinct gender roles.

The Anglo-Saxon term gerle was the source of the English word girl, which first occurred in the Middle Ages between 1250 and 1300 CE (also spelled girle or gurle). In certain ways, the Anglo-Saxon term gerela, which means apparel or clothing article, appears to have been employed as a metonym. Until the late 1400s, the term referred to a child of either gender.

Since around 1530, the term “girl” has referred to any young unmarried woman. Sweetheart was the first recorded meaning in 1648. Girl-friend first appeared in 1892, while girl next door, which refers to an adolescent female or young lady with a wholesome charm, first appeared in 1961.

An adult female, generally a younger one, is sometimes referred to as a girl. In professional or other formal circumstances, this usage may be regarded insulting or disrespectful, much as the phrase boy might be disparaging when given to an adult man. As a result, this use is frequently derogatory. When used to discriminate against children (e.g., “you’re only a female”), it can be derogatory. Girl, on the other hand, can be a professional term for a woman working as a model or other public feminine figure, such as a showgirl, and is typically not regarded disparaging in such instances.

The term has positive connotations in a casual environment, as indicated by its use in popular music titles. It’s been used to mock those who are acting erratically (Canadian singer Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous Girl”) or to bring women of all ages together by reminding them that they were once girls (American country singer Martina McBride’s “This One’s for the Girls”).

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Traditionally, girls’ formal education has been seen as significantly less essential than that of boys. Exceptions were rare in Europe until the printing press and the Reformation expanded literacy. Queen Elizabeth I is a rare exception to the typical disregard of females’ literacy. As a youngster, she was in a vulnerable position as a potential successor to the throne, and her life was in fact jeopardized by the political maneuvering of other prominent court members. Elizabeth was thought to be illegitimate after her mother, Anne Boleyn, was executed. Henry VIII paid little attention to her schooling. Interestingly, Henry VIII’s widow, Catherine Parr, was impressed by Elizabeth’s brilliance and backed the decision to provide her with an excellent education following Henry’s death, beginning when she was nine years old. Elizabeth was schooled in Latin, Greek, Spanish, French, philosophy, history, mathematics, and music, and acquired an education comparable to that of a distinguished male aristocrat. It has been said that Elizabeth’s excellent education aided her development into a successful ruler.

By the 18th century, Europeans had realized the need of reading, and schools were springing up all across the continent to educate the populace. In France, education during the Enlightenment led to up to a third of women becoming literate by the time of the French Revolution, compared to around half of males. Girls were not permitted to secondary level schools in France until the late 19th century, and education was still not deemed as vital for girls as it was for males, who were being taught for professions that were still closed to women. Until 1924, when education minister Léon Bérard instituted changes, girls were not allowed to acquire a Baccalaureate credential in France. Until the end of World War II, schools in France were segregated. Compulsory education legislation have improved the education of girls and young women across Europe since then. Girls’ education was restricted in several European countries until the 1970s, especially at higher levels. This was frequently accomplished by teaching separate courses to each gender, especially as university education was viewed as largely a male pursuit, particularly in technical fields. Women were not allowed to attend top engineering institutions such as École Polytechnique until the 1970s.

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