From http://blog.peta2.com/2011/05/coming-out-twice.html?c=peta2_enews:

I had been trying to keep my vegan tendencies on the DL for years by that point, but it was getting harder and harder to come up with excuses for why I didn’t want my dad’s scrambled eggs or my mom’s chocolate cake. Looking back on it now, I hate how much I hurt my parents by rejecting their cooking for what can only be described as (and excuse my delicate and ladylike etiquette) not having a pair.

I can't make any sense of it.

  • Nor could I, until I read Bee's reply
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 14:31

2 Answers 2


"Not having a pair" is a euphemism referring to not having any testicles. Simply, use of the phrase usually implies that someone is "lacking guts", or not brave.


Whenever you see that, there is an implied "of balls" (male scrotum) at the end of it. This is kind of crude, so some folks will say it this way and hope you have heard the term enough to fill in the rest.

As Bee said, this is a way of saying that the person isn't acting with the courage a proper adult male should exhibit. The insulting implication is that the person in question is acting like a woman (who would not have said anatomical parts). So in addition to being crude, it is also very sexist. However, it seems to be in some kind of rhetorical sweet spot where women don't mind it all that much. Why, I can't say. As your blog link shows, they even use it themselves, or on women (both in this case). This is admittedly weird as it is a factual statement, but everybody knows what is meant.

Another semi-polite way to say this (in the USA at least) is to say the person lacks cojones (often misspelled/Anglicized as cajones). That is the Spanish word for the same anatomical part. Somehow using a foreign word for it makes it a smidgen less crude.

  • 1
    I have never heard references to not having balls as being sexist. It always sounded to me as the acting was of a male whose testicles never appeared, had been removed or were small - i.e. the male in question was lacking testosterone rather than being girly or womanly. "Ahh grow a pair" has the same connotation.
    – mplungjan
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 16:57
  • 3
    I agree with @mplungjan. Not having balls is about being castrated or impotent more than it is about being womanly. That's probably why the women you know don't mind so much.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 17:04
  • @Kit - I'd like to believe that. However, I've often heard it (in exclusively male circles of course) used alongside more explicitly sexist insults. Males pretty much have them even at a young age (and where I'm from physical castration is almost unheard of), so there's really not much else it could mean. Either way, the implication that this male anatomical part is required for any sort of assertiveness is inherently sexist, even if not offensively so.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 17:54
  • I'm not against political correctness, but to be fair, testosterone is chemically linked to assertiveness, even in women. Females get it from their ovaries, males get it from their testes. (Mostly, some comes from the adrenal glands.) Therefore, the phrase is particularly apt. In my experience, females I know have no particular problem with this turn of phrase.
    – ghoppe
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 20:33

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