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 gendering (audio) \

Definition of gender (Entry 2 of 2)

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Her job was to improve management, encourage gender equality in hiring and set up internal training programs. Patrick Thomas, WSJ, "The Harvard Professor Who Offers Leadership Lessons to Corporate America," 20 June 2020 Some experts believe this could be a watershed moment for gender equality in the home. Elissa Strauss, CNN, "Fatherhood and the pandemic: How men are stepping up with child care," 19 June 2020 The human’s gender is ambiguous to make the body connect to as many people as possible. Giana Han, al, "Alabama artists amplify truths and emotions surrounding George Floyd protests," 18 June 2020 The former head of diversity at Morgan Stanley is suing the firm and two of its top executives, including CEO James Gorman, for racial and gender discrimination. Stephen Gandel, CBS News, "Morgan Stanley's former head of diversity sues bank for discrimination," 17 June 2020 In an essay for NBC Think, American activist Tiq Milan wrote that for Black LGBTQ+ people, race and gender equality have always gone hand in hand — and during this moment, there can be no hierarchies in the fight for justice. Brianna Provenzano, refinery29.com, "This Rally To Protect Black Trans Lives Was Better Than Any Corporate Pride Parade," 16 June 2020 Switzerland went from being the eight best country in the world for gender equality in 2015 to the 20th by 2018, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2018. Mélissa Godin, Time, "Women In Switzerland Scream In Protest Of Gender Inequality," 15 June 2020 Goldman Sachs, which just announced a fund to support groups that address racial injustice and economic disparity, had paid $9 million in 2019 to settle federal allegations of racial and gender pay bias. Anchorage Daily News, "After years of marginalizing black employees and customers, Corporate America says ‘black lives matter’," 14 June 2020 Since 2012, Nike has pushed for gender equality and inclusivity in athletics through philanthropic donations via the brand's BeTrue Collections. Talia Abbas, Glamour, "10 Fashion and Beauty Brands Giving Back for Pride Month," 12 June 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for gender

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for gender

Last Updated

26 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gender.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gender. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.

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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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Comments on gender

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