Questions regarding the grammatical gender of English words.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

-1
votes
1answer
66 views

CAN WE SAY THAT SHE IS A MAN IN “She is a man of character.” [closed]

I'd like to express the full sentence: She looks quite thin, but in fact she is a man of character. Can we apply the expression a man of character when a woman has a strong character?
2
votes
1answer
37 views

Referring to unknown gender as “she” [duplicate]

In what cases is it appropriate to refer to unknown gender as she?
1
vote
4answers
904 views

Politically correct substitutes for (fe)male and (wo)man

In the English language, the pairs man/woman and male/female both look as if one gender or sex was considered a special case for it is denoted by putting an arbitrary prefix (wo-, fe-) before the ...
151
votes
19answers
48k views

What is a feminine version of 'guys'?

I commonly use the word 'guys' to refer to a group of males colloquially. It's colloquial but not rude, off putting, condescending, patronizing (though I wouldn't use it with a group of men at a board ...
1
vote
4answers
71 views

Gender in “Sun won't show its/his/her face” nowadays

The question concerns the usage of possessive pronouns in phrases like: Sun won't show its/his/her face much today. I saw this sentence using her in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and ...
24
votes
2answers
5k views

Why don't English nouns have grammatical gender?

English nouns — other than those with natural gender, e.g. people or animals — do not generally have grammatical gender, and so are referred to as 'it' rather than 'he' or 'she'. However, modern ...
1
vote
0answers
56 views

Grammatical Gender þe þæt

When the nominative articles for masculine and feminine nouns were exchanged for þe and cases for nouns were lost, it would make sense for masculine and feminine to become a common gender like in ...
0
votes
0answers
48 views

How can I differentiate a gender to word cousin [duplicate]

How can I differentiate the word "cousin" to male and female. Because a time ago I listened this phrase "My cousin cut the hair". When I listened this I couldn't distinguish if reference a male or ...
7
votes
6answers
10k views

What is the male equivalent of “damsel”?

Is there a male equivalent of "damsel" ? damsel (dam·sel) Pronunciation: /ˈdamzəl/ noun archaic or literary    a young unmarried woman. (from OxfordDictionaries.com)
6
votes
1answer
236 views

Can “female”/“male” be insulting?

If not used when misgendering, making unasked for assumptions about gender or in a hostile context, can usage of the words female/male be insulting? More specifically: can a non-native speaker be ...
2
votes
2answers
53 views

What is the correct pronoun for mixed gender antecedents?

Neither John nor Mary thinks (pronoun?) will lose their race. Probably the best solution for this sentence is to recast it as "Both John and Mary think the other will lose their race," or something ...
0
votes
1answer
109 views

Unmarried Madam

In Spanish there is senora and senorita, in French there is madame and mademoiselle and in English there is mrs and miss. My question is that in English we also have call women "Madam" or "Ma'am" as a ...
0
votes
2answers
83 views

Feminist 'she' when the action is bad

When the gender of the subject of a sentence is unknown, I sometimes use the feminist she rather than the more common singular they. Now I happen to feel that something is wrong when I use it as ...
4
votes
1answer
94 views

Can verbally female-concerned idioms be used for male cases, (and vice versa)?

The idiom like Caesar's wife is mentioned in the book 1100 words you need to know (Murray Bromberg and Melvin Gordon, 4th edition), and used in the following sentence as an example: Mrs. Drake ...
2
votes
1answer
961 views

What is the female equivalent of “warlock”?

What is the female equivalent of a "warlock"? It seems that other male-only words for paranormal practitioners have female equivalents: Wizard/Witch Sorcerer/Sorceress Enchanter/Enchantress ...
2
votes
2answers
102 views

Terms to Refer to “Malekind” or “Femalekind”

I'm looking for some terms or phrases that could be used to refer to all the males or all the females collectively and exclusively. Something like a gender-specific version of "mankind" (which usually ...
6
votes
5answers
3k views

Gender-neutral Forms

What is the unisex form of a word like fisherman? Do you have to use fisherman and fisherwoman separately, or is fisherperson acceptable? I couldn’t find a dictionary with the word … In general, what ...
19
votes
5answers
49k views

Why is a woman a “widow” and a man a “widower”?

There are lots of words that have male and female forms, and usually there are alternate suffixes to the words which indicate the gender; for example, "waiter" vs. "waitress", "mister" vs. "mistress", ...
5
votes
3answers
708 views

Should I use “him” or “her”?

Which is correct, and why?: If my daughter was born a boy, I would have named her Harry. Or If my daughter was born a boy, I would have named him Harry. I'm sure my reasoning for both is ...
1
vote
2answers
220 views

Referring to someone when you only know their last name

Our company occasionally has to write letters to a third-party in response to a complaint. There are times when we only know the complainant's last name (usually with first initial). Typically, we ...
4
votes
4answers
947 views

Etymology of “manhole”

I don't think man stands for male here, I think it stands for human—it is a humanhole. Does it have this name because its purpose is to provide access to the sewer for men?
4
votes
1answer
579 views

Is villain masculine?

In India we generally use heroine as the female counterpart of a hero in a film. Is it grammatically acceptable? Further, is there any feminine counterpart for a villain either in tinsel world or in ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

Sun and moon: male or female?

In other languages, the sun and the moon have definite genders: in French and many other romanic languages le soleil (the sun) is male and la lune (the moon) is female. In German and other germanic ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

How to avoid sexist language?

I have observed that I use a lot of sexist terms; it comes naturally to me! I have resolved to be "perfectly" non-sexist from now onwards. I would like to know how to avoid sexist language. Yes, ...
3
votes
2answers
6k views

Is the word “women's” a typo?

My browser's spellcheck says it is, but I can't figure out why. Is Firefox sexist?
-2
votes
5answers
616 views

Should the common usage “Webmasters” be gender neutered into a separate webmistresses to describe female web site admin professionals?

Should the common usage "Webmasters" be gender neutered into a separate webmistresses to describe female web site admin professionals? Specifically why do we really need a term like web mistresses? ...
3
votes
3answers
212 views

In cricket and football is it alright to refer to women as men?

I noticed when I was watching the match between England and Mexico in the Women's Football World Cup the other night, that the commentator would refer to a situation where the attacking side 'had a ...
18
votes
3answers
25k views
7
votes
4answers
738 views

Gender neutral term for “maiden name”?

The term "maiden name" is only used to describe the name that a woman had before marriage, and as such, is not gender neutral. However, it occasionally occurs that a man will take his partner's last ...
14
votes
4answers
3k views

Do words for male animals include those which are castrated?

English has distinct words for the male and female of many common animal species. For example, we have bull / cow, rooster / hen, ram / ewe, stallion / mare, boar / sow, man / woman. However, we ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Avoiding the use of “the reader”?

I'm writing a response essay to Medieval Women's Visionary writings that possess power. In this essay I'm supposed to explain how two writers, that I've picked to write about, possess or don't possess ...
3
votes
1answer
307 views

Can I Switch from “it” to “he” or “she” when referring to an animal in a story? [closed]

This one is a question I can't seem to find an answer for. I do have a friend, a professional editor, who told me she saw no problem with me switching from "it" to "he" or "she" when referring to an ...
0
votes
6answers
12k views

Origin of 'fairer sex'

I've seen the term 'the fairer sex' being used in a number of areas to refer to females. How did they get that title? What does 'fairer' refer to in this case?
12
votes
5answers
576 views

When referring to a noun, when does the gender matter? [duplicate]

In most languages, gender plays a much more important role than in English. Nevertheless, it is possible to refer to a noun using its gender. The ship was launched on 4 October 1853. Tayleur left ...
22
votes
12answers
14k views

What word means a “male temptress”?

I was trying to describe a man who entices others into making bad decisions. I have several closely related questions: Is it okay in English to refer to a man as a temptress? Is there a uniquely ...
4
votes
2answers
9k views

A man's breast vs. a woman's breasts

Why is it that breast is used when referring to a man's chest, but breasts is used for a woman's? Could breast also mean a woman's chest, or do breasts have to be used when referring to a woman's ...
1
vote
3answers
624 views

Is English “genderless” or are inanimate nouns just neuter by default?

Some questions on ELU already touch on this subject, and they pose that English does not have grammatical gender which means that most of its inanimate nouns are referred to with it rather than he or ...
5
votes
6answers
2k views

Is there a female or gender-neutral equivalent to the colloquial “man”?

I don't know how to define the usage of man I'm talking about*, so I'll do it with examples: Hey, man, what's up? C'mon, man, don't make me do this. Is there a female or gender-neutral ...
0
votes
0answers
486 views

How to informally address a mixed gender group of people? [duplicate]

How to informally address a mixed gender group of people in the UK? Any alternative to 'guys' in 'would you guys like to do this and that?'
5
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the word for nouns with gender-specific forms?

Thought I would try a question with visual aid.* The image below shows Claire Danes, "Actor", in a kiosk poster for the Met. The variation in usage between actor and actress for female thespians is ...
0
votes
1answer
48 views

Gender of “the self” [closed]

I'm editing a paper in which the writer (a native French speaker) refers to "the self" using masculine pronouns (him, his, himself). I would normally use "it" (and its, itself) in this situation. I ...
5
votes
1answer
666 views

Terms for “natural gender” and “grammatical gender”

This post is partly inspired by previous posts, such as this one, on non-existence of grammatical gender in English. My question is mainly about what "natural gender" and "grammatical gender" are to ...
1
vote
4answers
427 views

Familiar form of address for a young, subordinate, woman that connotes respect (Female equivalent to 'Son')

A(n often male) paternal figure could use the term 'son' in a fatherly way without referring to his biological Son. Imagine a man has been verbally abused by a customer at work. His manger might say ...
0
votes
2answers
185 views

Is 'arrogant' a masculine word? [closed]

I was trying to think of a word to describe a female acquaintance and came up with arrogant, but immediately wanted to discard this as the word itself felt masculine to me. I later settled on ...
1
vote
3answers
258 views

Word for a man who is not gay but wanted to be female? [closed]

I searched this site and can't find a word that expresses my sense that I have always thought I would have been better suited as female, and I am attracted to the opposite sex (so would switch if I ...
14
votes
2answers
390 views

Is it acceptable to write “(wo)man”?

I just read this: It’s a (wo)man’s world out there. Is this an accepted approach to gender-neutral language, or is it just used when humor is intended?
0
votes
2answers
226 views

Why are words like “actor” and “waiter” considered male?

What is it about words like "actor" and "waiter" that causes them to be considered male, so that they have female counterparts (i.e. "actress" and "waitress")? Why are they not gender-neutral like ...
2
votes
1answer
383 views

Adjectives that Imply Nouns [closed]

Often we may see adjectives with nouns that are implied, but not explicitly written. I see this mostly with sports team names and demonyms. For example: The Notre Dame Fighting Irish Is "Irish" a ...
12
votes
6answers
5k views

Is the “female” in “female cousin” redundant here?

"My female cousin working for a finance company was dismissed. Disappeared along with her job were her confidence and smiling face." There is a very complicated system in Chinese for naming ...
13
votes
5answers
220k views

What is the male equivalent of “mistress” in formal English?

The mistress definition, Oxford dictionary a woman having an extramarital sexual relationship, esp. with a married man I am looking for the male equivalent of 'mistress' as defined above. Some ...