In a fascinating episode of their incredibly informative whiteboard series for Mental Floss , linguist Arika Okrent and illustrator Sean O’Neill verbally and visually explain how certain words that would seem to be related to one another due to similar spelling and pronunciation, actually came to the English language through completely separate sources. Most surprisingly, the terms male and female are completely unrelated in origin, despite their close association.
These words suggest one thing, but their histories tell us another. For example, there’s no male in female Where male goes back to Latin masculus, female comes through French femelle from Latin femella. The eventual overlap in pronunciation was accidental.