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 3a) 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 gendering (audio) \

Definition of gender (Entry 2 of 2)

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Other sources of laughs: gender-reveal parties, over-the-top first communion celebrations and the perils of being a displaced New Yorker in L.A. 7 p.m. Wednesday, the Crofoot, Pontiac. Greg Crawford, Freep.com, "Detroit's Top 10: Cool things to do this weekend, including Pete Davidson, Willow and Jaden Smith, Eric D'Alessandro," 27 Nov. 2019 But overlooking the continent’s gender leadership in areas like boards and government would be a mistake. Kristen Bellstrom, Fortune, "1 in 4 Corporate Board Members Are Women on This Continent," 27 Nov. 2019 As all-gender bathrooms have become more widespread in Bay Area businesses to serve customers of all gender identities, protecting staff remains a trickier proposition. Alix Wall, SFChronicle.com, "Businesses to customers: Stop misgendering our staff," 27 Nov. 2019 Although earlier research emphasized rising mortality among non-Hispanic whites, the broad trend detailed in this study cuts across gender, racial, and ethnic lines. BostonGlobe.com, "Most popular on BostonGlobe.com," 27 Nov. 2019 SUNDAY Bad Bunny Urban Latin superstar topples genre and gender conventions. Joey Guerra, Houston Chronicle, "Concerts in Houston: The Old 97’s, Bad Bunny, Megan Thee Stallion, ‘Latin History for Morons’," 27 Nov. 2019 Adam, who is black, sued the state Senate, charging that she was discriminated against on the basis of her race and gender when she was previously employed at the Legislature as a policy adviser. Andrew Oxford, azcentral, "Arizona Senate policy adviser back on staff after jury's decision in discrimination lawsuit," 27 Nov. 2019 When both race and gender are considered, disparities in sentencing become even more pronounced. Kevin O'neal Cokley, The Conversation, "Why support for the death penalty is much higher among white Americans," 27 Nov. 2019 As has been the case with virtually every poll on impeachment, the numbers were clearly divided by party affiliation, race and gender. William Cummings, USA TODAY, "Number of Americans supporting Trump's impeachment and removal unchanged by hearings, poll finds," 27 Nov. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gender

Time Traveler for gender

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for gender

Last Updated

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Gender.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gender. Accessed 5 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on gender

What made you want to look up gender? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to accept, comply, or submit

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!