gender

noun
gen·​der | \ ˈjen-dər How to pronounce gender (audio) \
plural genders

Definition of gender

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a subclass within a grammatical class (such as noun, pronoun, adjective, or verb) of a language that is partly arbitrary but also partly based on distinguishable characteristics (such as shape, social rank, manner of existence, or sex) and that determines agreement with and selection of other words or grammatical forms
b : membership of a word or a grammatical form in such a subclass
c : an inflectional form (see inflection sense 2a) showing membership in such a subclass
2a : sex sense 1a the feminine gender
b : the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex
c : gender identity Those seeking state driver's licenses in Massachusetts are closer to being able to designate their gender as "X" instead of "male" or "female." The state Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would allow for the nonbinary designation on licenses.— Steve LeBlanc Facebook's message was clear when the social media network added new gender options for users on Thursday: the company is sensitive to a wide spectrum of gender identity and wants users to feel accommodated no matter where they see themselves on that spectrum.— Katy Steinmetz

gender

verb
gendered; gendering\ ˈjen-​d(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce gender (audio) \

Definition of gender (Entry 2 of 2)

Are gender and sex the same? Usage Guide

Noun

The words sex and gender have a long and intertwined history. In the 15th century gender expanded from its use as a term for a grammatical subclass to join sex in referring to either of the two primary biological forms of a species, a meaning sex has had since the 14th century; phrases like "the male sex" and "the female gender" are both grounded in uses established for more than five centuries. In the 20th century sex and gender each acquired new uses. Sex developed its "sexual intercourse" meaning in the early part of the century (now its more common meaning), and a few decades later gender gained a meaning referring to the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex, as in "gender roles." Later in the century, gender also came to have application in two closely related compound terms: gender identity refers to a person's internal sense of being male, female, some combination of male and female, or neither male nor female; gender expression refers to the physical and behavioral manifestations of one's gender identity. By the end of the century gender by itself was being used as a synonym of gender identity.

Among those who study gender and sexuality, a clear delineation between sex and gender is typically prescribed, with sex as the preferred term for biological forms, and gender limited to its meanings involving behavioral, cultural, and psychological traits. In this dichotomy, the terms male and female relate only to biological forms (sex), while the terms masculine/masculinity, feminine/femininity, woman/girl, and man/boy relate only to psychological and sociocultural traits (gender). This delineation also tends to be observed in technical and medical contexts, with the term sex referring to biological forms in such phrases as sex hormones, sex organs, and biological sex. But in nonmedical and nontechnical contexts, there is no clear delineation, and the status of the words remains complicated. Often when comparisons explicitly between male and female people are made, we see the term gender employed, with that term dominating in such collocations as gender differences, gender gap, gender equality, gender bias, and gender relations. It is likely that gender is applied in such contexts because of its psychological and sociocultural meanings, the word's duality making it dually useful. The fact remains that it is often applied in such cases against the prescribed use.

Usage of sex and gender is by no means settled. For example, while discrimination was far more often paired with sex from the 1960s through the 20th century and into the 21st, the phrase gender discrimination has been steadily increasing in use since the 1980s and is on track to become the dominant collocation. Currently both terms are sometimes employed with their intended synonymy made explicit: sex/gender discrimination, gender (sex) discrimination.

Examples of gender in a Sentence

Noun Please state your name, birth date, and gender. The adjective and noun must agree in number and gender. Some languages do not use genders.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Among knowledge workers, the preference for some form of remote work is high across age, gender and racial demographics. Ira Bedzow, Forbes, 6 May 2022 When a Minneapolis policeman murdered George Floyd — a ghastly crime captured on a cell phone video that went viral — cultural institutions across the country were being pressed on their histories of racial, gender and other exclusions. Los Angeles Times, 6 May 2022 This Palme D'Or winner could have easily been a less-aware exercise in camp, but instead develops into a suspenseful meditation on gender, empathy, and grief. Andrew Walsh, EW.com, 5 May 2022 During the campaign, all three candidates expressed interest in education, public safety and issues surrounding gender and sexuality. Brittany Carloni, The Indianapolis Star, 4 May 2022 The show, which won a GLAAD Media Award for best comedy series in April, tackled gender, race and class issues alongside its jokes. Rick Porter, The Hollywood Reporter, 4 May 2022 Contextual advertising, the authors write, may reinforce the tendency to rely on gender and demographic stereotypes. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, 3 May 2022 Kylie Taitano, 30, a Democrat who lives in San Diego and is a software engineer, CEO and Co-Founder of Code With Her, a San Diego based nonprofit dedicated to closing the gender and diversity gap in technology. Greg Moran, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 May 2022 The Russian president’s fateful decision dealt a body-blow to conservative populists throughout the West who saw him as a champion of traditional values concerning gender, family, religion and nationalism. William A. Galston, WSJ, 3 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gender.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of gender

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for gender

Noun

Middle English gendre, from Anglo-French genre, gendre, from Latin gener-, genus birth, race, kind, gender — more at kin

Verb

Middle English gendren, from Anglo-French gendrer, from Latin generare — more at generate

Learn More About gender

Time Traveler for gender

Time Traveler

The first known use of gender was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near gender

gendarmerie

gender

gender bender

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for gender

Last Updated

10 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Gender.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gender. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for gender

gender

noun
gen·​der | \ ˈjen-dər How to pronounce gender (audio) \

Kids Definition of gender

: the state of being male or female : sex

gender

noun
gen·​der | \ ˈjen-dər How to pronounce gender (audio) \

Medical Definition of gender

2 : the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex

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