Bechdel Test

noun

Bech·​del Test ˈbek-dəl- How to pronounce Bechdel Test (audio)
variants or Bechdel test or less commonly Bechdel-Wallace Test or Bechdel-Wallace test
: a set of criteria used as a test to evaluate a work of fiction (such as a film) on the basis of its inclusion and representation of female characters

Note: The usual criteria of the Bechdel Test are (1) that at least two women are featured, (2) that these women talk to each other, and (3) that they discuss something other than a man.

In addition to being co-written by pre-"Lady Bird" Greta Gerwig, the film [Mistress America] passes the Bechdel test because it showcases the (non-romantic) ambitions of two women in different stages of their lives.Sophia Spirus
While the premise may seem simple, there are a shocking number of movies that manage to fail this test, with only 58 percent of all movies in the Bechdel Test database passing in all three areas.Victoria Lara

Examples of Bechdel Test in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This simple new test was inspired by the famous Bechdel Test invented by cartoonist Alison Bechdel in the mid-1980s to measure the presence of women in movies and other forms of fiction. Chloe Veltman, NPR, 1 Mar. 2024 Alas, this is the last time the game could ever pass the Bechdel Test because Gerri is the next to go. Bethy Squires, Vulture, 2 June 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Bechdel Test.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

after Alison Bechdel (born 1960) American cartoonist, who introduced the test in a comic strip in 1985, and her friend Liz Wallace, whom the cartoonist credits with creation of the test

First Known Use

2007, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Bechdel Test was in 2007

Dictionary Entries Near Bechdel Test

Cite this Entry

“Bechdel Test.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Bechdel%20Test. Accessed 17 Jul. 2024.

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