What is the reason that airplanes in English have a female gender? Please illuminate the historical or scientific reason.


2 Answers 2


Much of aviation has a history in Nautical terms, lore... and law.

Ships were referred to as "she" perhaps for one of the following reasons

  • The latin word for Ship is "Navis" which is a feminine noun
  • Or perhaps mostly male ship owners would name their ships after/for their (invariably female) loved ones.
  • Ships were often dedicated to godesses, or women of significance in order to bestow on them good luck when seafaring

Some further reading and Why are ships always female? - english.se

  • $\begingroup$ Only slightly mentioned buried somewhere in there is an answer suggesting it's related to the female figureheads on many old ships. Older planes had women painted on them too sometimes, might be related? $\endgroup$
    – Weaver
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ Good answer. I have just never heard anyone actually do this. I have heard of this being a thing, but in 37 years around airplanes I can't remember a single time anyone referred to an airplane as female. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 1, 2020 at 5:00

Aircraft, like ships, can evoke a fair amount of affection on the part of the aircrew, or ship's crew.

Until recently, most aircrew (outside of attendants) were male, just as most ship's crew are male. And most men would prefer to personify the subject of their affection as female, not male.

After all, you didn't see beefcake men as ship's figureheads, did you?


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