From Wikipedia:

In the United States, "running mate" refers not only to a candidate for vice president (federal), but also to a candidate for lieutenant governors of those states where the governor and lieutenant governor are jointly elected.

Outside of the political context, "mate" is often understood to be a male.

What are the proper terms to use in American English if the running mate is a woman?

What are the proper terms to use in British English?

  • The Wikipedia article you link to as a source already answers your question for the US: "as in 1984 when Walter Mondale of Minnesota (10 votes) selected Geraldine Ferraro of New York". It doesn't use any different term for Ms Ferraro. – Mark Beadles Feb 17 '19 at 22:35
  • @MarkBeadles In this paragraph it does not have to use a different term even if there were one. – rapt Feb 17 '19 at 22:57
  • More explicitly: what research did you do concerning what US vice-presidential and lieutenant-gubernatorial candidates who were women have actually been called? – Mark Beadles Feb 18 '19 at 0:30
  • @MarkBeadles It was hard for me to decide. From looking up online, I realized that the word "mate" may have several connotations, depending on whom you ask. For a long time it was less relevant in the US. I have seen mostly "vice-presidential candidate" (unisex), "female running mate", and just "running mate" when it was clear from previous references that she is a woman. It is also confusing to me since I have read that "mate" may sometimes be used by women to refer to a female friend, but not so much by men to refer to a female friend. – rapt Feb 18 '19 at 1:33
  • Ah, I think I see the root of your confusion. "Running mate" is a US-centric term , but "mate" in the sense of "friend" is a non-US-centric term. In the US, where we say 'running mate', we hardly ever use "mate" to mean "friend". In the US, if you say "my mate" people will think you mean spouse, or sexual partner. – Mark Beadles Feb 18 '19 at 2:01

The proper term to use is "running mate". There is no explicitly feminine equivalent to the word "mate" in this context, and most English speakers don't feel the need for one. As far as I know, there is no difference in this regard between American English and British English. I'm not sure whether the term is applicable to anything in British politics, but a British English speaker might use "running mate" in a discussion of U.S. politics.

Outside of the political context, "mate" is often understood to be a male.

This is an overly broad statement.

Like most words, "mate" doesn't explicitly denote a male or a female in English. The word "mate" has male connotations mainly when it is used with a sense like "fellow" or "friend"/"buddy". It has a number of other uses; another one that seems quite gender-neutral to me is "roommate" or "flat(-)mate".

  • The thing is that in all these instances there is some sense of fellowship. Which in turn invokes the male connotations. – rapt Feb 17 '19 at 23:28
  • Compounds — such as "roommate" — may often come to be detached to some extent from the original meaning. – rapt Feb 17 '19 at 23:38
  • For example, at least in the US — if I am not mistaken — "roommate" may be also a person (man or woman) with which one shares an apartment, not necessarily the same room. – rapt Feb 17 '19 at 23:45

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.