Difference 女の子, 少女 and 女子

As in the title, in the first three levels i learned three different ways to say ‘girl’. Are these situation-related or maybe age-related?
And for sure there are more to come, aren’t there?

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少女 is a word that refers to girls that are somewhat between children and adults. It has a slightly romantic (referring to this definition: of, characterized by, or suggestive of an idealized view of reality) feeling to it.

女の子 - used for a wide range of young girls in everyday language

女児 - a word used to refer to elementary school / primary school aged girl (mostly written language)

女子 - covers a wide range of girls from elementary school up, but it has usages that are different from 女の子 (for example, you would typically say 女子トイレ and 女子バスケ部 and not 女の子トイレ or 女の子バスケ部)

乙女 is a word that is used almost exclusively in written language. It has a poetic feeling.


Would it be strange in Japanese to refer to non-children with any of these terms like we do in English (i.e. young adult women)?

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Wow, thank you for that detailed explanation :+1::grin:

I’ve seen 女子 and 女の子 being used for any woman who doesn’t look like she has kids/is married, but it’s more of a marker for lack of respect/infantilisation in the same way you’d refer to a woman in her 20s/30s as a ‘girl’.
The more reasonable way to refer to a woman (of any age) is 女性

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Sport events like “100m dash men” (how do you call that in English actually?) also uses 女子/男子, so at least that one applies for “general youth” as well.

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