Skip to main content
110 votes
Accepted

Was "man" a gender-neutral word in common usage at some point?

Man in Old English could be either gendered or non-gendered. We inherited that ambiguity. In Old English, man referred to both an adult male and a human being of either sex. Here is Stephen A. ...
TaliesinMerlin's user avatar
62 votes
Accepted

How do you say "Come on, man" to a woman?

All three of these, man, dude, and bro, in about equal measure, are very informal, assume some familiarity, but are not rude or offensive. But their genderedness is different. 'man' is a bit of an ...
Mitch's user avatar
  • 71.6k
50 votes

A term for a woman complaining about things/begging in a cute/childish way

Not an exact translation but very close is the word coquettish from the noun coquette. This definition says that a coquettish woman is one who acts in a playful way that is intended to make men ...
BoldBen's user avatar
  • 17.2k
45 votes

What's the feminine equivalent of "your obedient servant" as a letter closing?

The only word you would need to change is servant, and that doesn't really have a feminised version (unless you count servant-girl which is not in the same class, or the really archaic handmaid, which ...
Andrew Leach's user avatar
  • 102k
43 votes

Why does English use singular they instead of making up a new word for this?

People have created new gender-neutral pronouns. They are known as neopronouns. (A good list of currently used ones can be found on Wikipedia.) Furthermore, the move to create gender-neutral pronouns ...
Laurel's user avatar
  • 66.5k
41 votes

How do you say "Come on, man" to a woman?

You don't. Instead, remove the unnecessary genderism: "That's not cool." "Look at this." "Hey, calm down." As a bonus, you are no longer using terms like "man", "dude" and "bro" to males, ...
Lightness Races in Orbit's user avatar
38 votes

Usage and origin of "sister" in expressions like "sister company, sister ship, sister site" etc

'Brother company' - or 'brother (anything)' - would almost certainly be considered incorrect (in English). There's no logical reason why it should be incorrect, only historical. You're right that the ...
Michael's user avatar
  • 1,807
30 votes

Should foreign words used in English be inflected for gender, number, and case according to the conventions of their source language?

The answer is, unsatisfyingly, that it depends. Most native speakers aren't fluent in the borrowed language and so won't know the grammar principles there. Sometimes things are borrowed exactly, like ...
Mitch's user avatar
  • 71.6k
29 votes

Was "man" a gender-neutral word in common usage at some point?

I'm old enough to remember when "man" or the combining for "-man" was just common usage. "All men are created equal" was just taken for granted as meaning "All persons were created equal." Words like ...
Catlest's user avatar
  • 315
24 votes

How do you say "Come on, man" to a woman?

The best term is actually girl. Alternative words include sis and sister. I’ve also heard girlfriend though that’s more common among older people (~late 20s to 30s as opposed to teens and college-aged ...
taylor swift's user avatar
24 votes

Is -ist a gender-neutral ending?

Yes, these are gender-neutral. Check the definitions for a few of the professions ending in -ist, and there won't be any indication of gender: dentist: a person qualified to treat the diseases and ...
Heartspring's user avatar
  • 8,610
23 votes

Was "man" a gender-neutral word in common usage at some point?

Yes. From the Oxford English Dictionary (subscription required): Man was considered until the 20th cent. to include women by implication, though referring primarily to males. It is now frequently ...
GEdgar's user avatar
  • 25.2k
21 votes

How do you say "Come on, man" to a woman?

Using a male-gendered term to refer to females is highly regional. For example, in the Northeastern U.S., it's normal for a teenage girl to approach a table full of other teenage girls and address ...
Jeffiekins's user avatar
19 votes

Why does English use singular they instead of making up a new word for this?

Mostly, because they already have singular they. It's been in the language since the 14th century. Prior to that, there was generic he, which continued to also be used until the 20th century and is ...
Jon Hanna's user avatar
  • 53.4k
18 votes

A term for a woman complaining about things/begging in a cute/childish way

Coy could be used. When someone is being coy, they're usually pretending to be shy or slightly embarrassed, but in a flirtatious manner. This can be seen as an attractive quality, because it suggests ...
barbecue's user avatar
  • 6,614
17 votes

Is a male fox widely called a "dog fox"?

When used together, "fox and vixen" sufficiently implies males and female. However, "I saw a fox" does not imply gender, just like "dog" as you mention. In usual context, one does not need to ...
Ste's user avatar
  • 14.3k
17 votes

A term for a woman complaining about things/begging in a cute/childish way

This dictionary translation of sājiāo (撒娇) is as follows: sājiāo to act coquettishly to throw a tantrum NOUN coquetry to act like a spoiled child This Wiktionary entry has more ...
Spehro Pefhany's user avatar
16 votes

Does the archaic prefix wer/wep have modern descendants?

The Old English word wer survived into Middle English as "were" in both the senses of "male human" and "husband". Wer(e) is ultimately cognate not only with similar words in other Germanic languages ...
rjpond's user avatar
  • 3,371
16 votes

How do you say "Come on, man" to a woman?

In my neighborhood, most (average) women don't like to be treated as "one of the guys". We expect and prefer to be treated like ladies. "Dude, guy, man, bro" -- when spoken to a lady, are considered ...
Bread's user avatar
  • 5,658
15 votes

Usage and origin of "sister" in expressions like "sister company, sister ship, sister site" etc

It happens that "sister" (and "mother" and "daughter") are used for relationships between various inanimate entities - ships, companies, schools, monasteries, languages - and not "brother" or "father" ...
Colin Fine's user avatar
  • 77.2k
14 votes
Accepted

Why are ships always female?

The boat is not female in itself. You are correct that the English language does not have a grammatical gender (mostly). If you have a look at this blog there are several reasons offered for why ...
Helmar's user avatar
  • 5,437
13 votes
Accepted

Debutante in a sporting context?

Further to GEdgar and oerkelen's explanations it probably makes sense to use gender-neutral language. Some options are: novice rookie newcomer new kid on the block That said, as far as ...
bookmanu's user avatar
  • 6,931
12 votes

Why does English use singular they instead of making up a new word for this?

Because creating a new closed-class word is a hugely invasive change to people's way of speaking. It's much more drastic than creating a new noun (euphemism) for an old (derogatory) noun. The ...
Kilian Foth's user avatar
12 votes

What's the feminine equivalent of "your obedient servant" as a letter closing?

The answers and the comments posted so far on this page focus on the literal meaning of the phrase your obedient servant, and conclude that it should not be used because it is highly unlikely that the ...
jsw29's user avatar
  • 8,650
11 votes

Should foreign words used in English be inflected for gender, number, and case according to the conventions of their source language?

You must, as always, write for your audience. If you are writing for a technical journal where your audience is multi-lingual, then you should strive to get it absolutely right. That goes without ...
Mick's user avatar
  • 9,420
11 votes

Usage and origin of "sister" in expressions like "sister company, sister ship, sister site" etc

The answer as to why the term brother is never used in context with belonging to the same group, class, or organisation could lie in biology. Women bear children, they are able to generate, and ...
Mari-Lou A's user avatar
  • 91.4k
11 votes
Accepted

Specifying Pronouns as He/Him;She/Her;They/Them

To my knowledge, it's a convention that persists because the form itself has acquired shared meaning. I don't know all of the details, but we can look at common patterns of usage: Explanatory ...
Alex P's user avatar
  • 1,085
11 votes

Debutante in a sporting context?

No. It may be her debut appearance. Or her rookie appearance. But not her debutante appearance. You are correct that, in English, debutante refers the introduction to high society.
GEdgar's user avatar
  • 25.2k
11 votes

"Ladies and Gentlemen" beyond binary gender classification

You can use everyone, which is what the London Underground now uses: Underground staff have been instructed to begin their announcements with phrases like, “Hello, everyone” and “Good morning ...
Laurel's user avatar
  • 66.5k
10 votes
Accepted

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

You are looking for a practical answer, not a theoretical one: politically correct terms that are acceptable in practice. So I looked for competing terms that are actually being adopted in the wild. ...
MetaEd's user avatar
  • 28.5k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible