4

I'm trying to come up with gender-neutral / androgynous forms of idiomatic phrases like "son of a gun", "son of a bitch", etc., substituting the "son" in each case for a neutral word that does not specify the gender of the person in question.

Alternatives I have considered: child, spawn, kid, offspring

None of them sound natural. Haven't been able to find much on this either on this site or the wider Internet, in the latter case possibly because there is simply so much noise from usage.

  • 1
    Because "Son of a <blank>" is an idiom, if you alter it to be gender neutral, it may render the idiom unrecognizable. Idioms are hard to alter for gender neutrality or other reasons because they aren't meant to be taken literally by definition. See more about the origin of the idiom here: english.stackexchange.com/questions/37211/… – RaceYouAnytime Apr 8 '17 at 22:03
  • There are variations on the euphemism "person of dubious heritage", so "person" is used, but not in a direct replacement of the same phrases. – fixer1234 Apr 8 '17 at 23:28
  • are you trying to refer to birth status (as in out of wedlock) or do you just want to call someone "a pain in the butt" or a "real piece of shit" .. or "a complete nobody" or a "poser" or a "lighweight" or a "wannabe" – Tom22 Apr 8 '17 at 23:40
  • Not birth status specifically. There are a number of variations on this kind of insult, but the issue I have is merely that they reference the target's gender—which is unknowable in the intended use case. Your examples are accurate, @Tom22. – dgw Apr 9 '17 at 1:54
3

Although it's more than a little archaic, get of a <blank> doesn't immediately imply a gender. And it has the added advantage of being unambiguously insulting.

(Dictionary.com)

Noun 1. an offspring or the total of the offspring, especially of a male animal: the get of a stallion.

In fact, "get" by itself is still used as an insult in British slang,

3b. a child born out of wedlock.

abbreviated from whoreson get or get of a whore.

  • This is an interesting idea, and not one that I was likely to discover on my own. It's certainly worth adding to the list! – dgw Apr 9 '17 at 1:55
1

To me, "son of a gun" is already gender-neutral enough. I also find

I'm your man or I'm the man for the job

to be gender neutral.

I realize it might not be comfortable for everyone, but it works for some, and I wanted to make this option available to you.

Partial motivation for this approach: In Spanish, a man or a woman can be "un matemático" (a mathematician) or "un músico" (a musician).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.