The use of "she" for "I" (also for "you" and "he")is common in literary representations of
*" 'And here she comes,' said Donald, as Captain Dalgetty entered the hall." —
Walter Scott, "The Legend of Montrose" iv ( 1819).
"She" is also used instead of "it"for things to which feminine gender is conventionally attributed:a ship or boat (especially in
colloquialand dialect use),often said of a carriage, a cannon or gun,a tool or utensil of any kind,and occasionally of other things.
"She" refers to abstractions personified as feminine,and also for the soul, a city, a country, an army, the church, and others.
*"Stanley had been ridiculing the habit of personifying the Church as a woman, and speaking of it tenderly as "she"." —
George C. Brodrick, "Memory and Impressions" (1900) 252
*"With all the pompous titles ... bestowed upon France, she is not more than half so powerful as "she" might be." — "The Annual Register III. Miscellaneous Essays" (1760) 203
*" [He] told the Ambassadour, that the Turkes army was at Malta, and that she had saccaged the towne." —
Thomas Washingtontr. "Nicholay’s Voyages" i. xiii. (1585) 14 b
Rarely and archaically, "she" referred to an immaterial thing without personification.Also of natural objects considered as feminine, as the moon, or the planets that are named after goddesses;also of a river (now rare), formerly of the sea, a tree, etc.
William Caxtonin 1483 ("The Golden Legende" 112 b/2)and Robert Parkein 1588 (tr. "Mendoza’s Historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China," 340)used "she" for the sun,but this may possibly be due to misprint;survival of the Old English grammatical gender can hardly be supposed,but Caxton may have been influenced by the fact that the sun is feminine in Dutch.
"She" has been used for "her",as an object or governed by a
preposition,both in literary use (now rare),or vulgarly, as an emphatic objective case.
*"I want no angel, only she." — Olive Schreiner Story African Farm ii. xiii. (1889) 284
*" 'I hope—our presence did not inconvenience—the young lady?' 'Bless your heart, sir! nothing ever inconveniences she'." — Miss Dinah Mulock Craik, "John Halifax, gentleman" x (1856).
"She" is also used
attributively, applied to female animals, as in:"she-ass, -ape, -bear, -dog, -dragon, -sheep, -wolf, -lion" [really a punning distortion of "shilling"] , "-stock," and "-stuff" [in the U.S. = cattle] .When applied to persons, it is now somewhat contemptuous,as in "she-being, -cousin, -dancer, -thief," and others."She-friend" meant a female friend, often in bad sense, that is, a mistress;but "she-saint", was simply a female saint.Rarely "she" was also prefixed to masculine nouns in place of the (later frequent) feminine suffix"-ess".
*"They took her for their Patroness, and consequently for their she God." — Daniel Brevint, "Saul and Samuel at Endor", vii. (1674) 161.
It has also been prefixed to nouns with the sense "that is a woman", often in disparaging use but also with intensive force, as "she-woman". Now it is somewhat rare:
*"Some she-malady, some unhealthy wanton, Fires thee verily." — Robinson Ellis, "The poems and fragments of Catullus," vi. (1871) 4
*"Correlative to the he-man is the she-woman, who is equally undesirable." — B. Russell, "New Hopes for changing World" (1951) 162
English personal pronouns
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