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seen Apr 27 '13 at 1:30

Jun
13
awarded  Yearling
Jun
13
awarded  Yearling
Jul
23
awarded  Caucus
Jul
21
comment Why and when did “breast” become gender-specific?
I think the question may be creating confusion with its wording. Both a male and female may have breast cancer where as "chicken breast" is a neuter term. Also, typically, men will complain of chest pain where as, again, it's more likely that a woman will complain of breast pain. The question deals specifically with the neuter. Or, in other words, when did the neuter of breast enter into common usage to guide the reader away from the term "breasts" meaning female breasts.
Jul
21
awarded  Critic
Jul
21
comment Why and when did “breast” become gender-specific?
OP: "In the past, "breast" used to be applicable to both male and female chests, but is generally only gender neutral nowadays when used in certain contexts... Why and when did this change of meaning occur?" If the word breast no longer carries a gender then "in the past" must be referring to when it did. That would be Old English. If the word breast no longer carries a gender but it once did, then there must have been a switch. I'm pretty sure that gender didn't drop out of every English word on the same day but rather over time. This is the "change" OP is referring to.
Jul
21
comment Why and when did “breast” become gender-specific?
+1 for bringing some poetry :-)
Jul
21
comment Why and when did “breast” become gender-specific?
Actually I was referring to the common usage of "chest" by modern native English speakers. If average man X goes to the doctor with a pain on the left side of his chest, he will say that he has a pain on the left side of his chest, not in his left breast. Similarly, depending on the location of the pain (think in 3d here), a woman would have to specify if the pain is in her chest (more general) or in her breast (more specific spatially).
Jul
21
comment Why and when did “breast” become gender-specific?
The OP asks about the switch of the word breast being having a gender (grammatical gender) to being neutral (neuter gender). So while you are correct that ME doesn't contain gender (actually, some do contest that), the OP is asking about the switch as it pertains specifically to the word breast. So, a "chicken breast filet" doesn't mean then breast of a female chicken, it means a breast of whatever chicken was unfortunate enough to have been chosen that time around.
Jul
21
awarded  Commentator
Jul
21
comment Why and when did “breast” become gender-specific?
I don't think the question has a false premise because it asks about general usage. I would guess that most native English speakers assume the feminine when saying or discussing breasts. Meat cutters, zoologists, tailors, physicians, or others who commonly come into contact with male breasts may not, but combined they don't make up the majority or sway the average. "His breasts" may hurt, but it's unlikely that you will see it written that way. I figure it's because we have a male dominated society in which breasts are seen as feminine, and regarding that I point to my previous post.
Jul
21
comment Why and when did “breast” become gender-specific?
@tchrist - In the OP: "Why and when did this change of meaning occur?"
Jul
21
comment “A smile cures the wounding of a frown”
It's obsolete now, and really is a reduced form of a Middle English word, so actually it doesn't count here but I was just pointing it out because one could use it that way if one wanted to. Still, it would introduce a lot of confusion and I would suggest against it.
Jul
21
answered “A smile cures the wounding of a frown”
Jul
21
comment “North” or “Northern” as adjective
The terms you're asking about are simply names chosen by institutions. They could have just as easily chosen The University of Northern Ohio, The University Located Centrally in the Northern part of Ohio - next to the big tree, or any other number of combinations of words. When it comes to the names of institutions, it's 100% marketing. For correct usage of capitalization, see my answer below.
Jul
21
comment “North” or “Northern” as adjective
and from 8.45: Points of the compass Compass points and terms derived from them are lowercased if they simply indicate direction or location. But see 8.46. pointing toward the north; a north wind; a northern climate to fly east; an eastward move; in the southwest of France; southwesterly
Jul
21
answered “North” or “Northern” as adjective
Jul
21
answered Alternative to “impactful” when referring to work with meaningful effect on peoples' lives
Jul
21
answered Why and when did “breast” become gender-specific?
Jul
8
answered If someone is electrocuted, do they have to die or can they just be injured?