Definition of gender in English:



  • 1[mass noun] The state of being male or female (typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones):

    ‘traditional concepts of gender’
    • ‘The media gives us gender roles and social norms to mimic and worship as creed.’
    • ‘According to researchers, gender differences play a role in drug abuse and addiction.’
    • ‘The parents were instructed to unequivocally nurture his female gender role.’
    • ‘A whole set of other factors clustered around gender roles pertain to female singers.’
    • ‘The construction of male and female gender roles was masculinist in nature.’
    • ‘They argue that existing differences in the lives of women and men derive from cultural definitions of gender roles.’
    • ‘A major focus of the book is on using theories from social psychology to explain gender differences.’
    • ‘She thinks the best way to level the playing field is to apply categories based on physical ability rather than gender identity.’
    • ‘Nothing influences the experience of law more than the culture of gender roles in society.’
    • ‘It is well established that testosterone in males plays a key role in this gender difference.’
    • ‘The challenge now is to enlist technology as an ally in the movement for economic, social and gender equity.’
    • ‘As more women survive into old age, the role of gender differences among older adults will become more important.’
    • ‘The study of biologically based gender differences is in the stumbling steps of infancy.’
    • ‘The group has been consistently focussing on its three major concerns of gender, culture and social activism.’
    • ‘One major reason for differences in gender roles is the need for power over the lives of other people.’
    • ‘It is a monument to all horses from racehorse to dray and represents both the male and female gender in its impressive form.’
    • ‘Male traditional gender roles were related only to the last step of seeking treatment.’
    • ‘The latter is essentially a biological description, whereas gender is a social construct.’
    • ‘It is embedded in cultural views on gender roles and expectations about relationships.’
    • ‘So one might expect to see some feminisation of the basic male gender behaviour in play.’
    1. 1.1[count noun] The members of one or other sex:
      ‘differences between the genders are encouraged from an early age’
      • ‘However, differences between genders in reporting styles should be the subject of further study.’
      • ‘Women are also more at risk of poverty than men, although this is reversed when unemployed or retired members of both genders are compared.’
      • ‘It's not entirely clear why there is a difference between the genders.’
      • ‘But one size may not fit all, and there may be important differences between genders and races.’
      • ‘You introduced the idea that there is a difference between the genders, which is intuitive.’
      • ‘Those that will go in hardest will be members of her own gender.’
      • ‘Her act is still female biased but her appeal crosses the genders and her self-deprecation is acid sharp as ever.’
      • ‘Also, a focus on differences between the genders often implies similarity within each gender.’
      • ‘For older women and men, the overall rates drop, but the difference between genders appears to grow.’
      • ‘Additionally, there were no differences between genders in weekday or weekend physical activity.’
      • ‘Identity differences between genders has been examined using both interview and questionnaire methods.’
      • ‘One of the things I love about classical ballet is the difference between the two genders.’
      • ‘Not only do they exist, they ensure their equality with men while recognizing the differences between both genders.’
      • ‘When it came to choosing courses, the report shows substantial differences between the genders.’
      • ‘There is little difference between the two genders in terms of fitness as a reason.’
      • ‘This would allow the genders to see the other's perspective and would encourage understanding.’
      • ‘Also, there are differences between the genders that aren't all sociological.’
      • ‘We were finally starting to understand differences in the genders.’
      • ‘The difference between genders, however, was statistically significant.’
      • ‘The research team now hope to examine the difference between the genders and find ways to redress the balance.’
  • 2Grammar
    (in languages such as Latin, French, and German) each of the classes (typically masculine, feminine, common, neuter) of nouns and pronouns distinguished by the different inflections which they have and which they require in words syntactically associated with them. Grammatical gender is only very loosely associated with natural distinctions of sex.

    • ‘Most languages have a gender for nouns; in French, a pencil is male, and a pen is female.’
    • ‘As is well known, nouns in German are assigned to one of three genders, masculine, feminine, and neuter.’
    • ‘There are three noun cases and two genders and the idiosyncrasies are intimidating.’
    • ‘This North Queensland language has four genders: masculine, feminine, edible and neuter.’
    • ‘Modern English has also lost its system of classifying nouns into three grammatical genders, as still occurs in German.’
    1. 2.1[mass noun] The property (in nouns and related words) of belonging to a grammatical gender:
      ‘determiners and adjectives usually agree with the noun in gender and number’
      • ‘Nouns are marked for gender, number, and case as well as for definite and indefinite forms.’
      • ‘It is a rule of Italian that the definite article has to ‘agree’ with the noun in gender.’


The word gender has been used since the 14th century as a grammatical term, referring to classes of noun designated as masculine, feminine, or neuter in some languages. The sense ‘the state of being male or female’ has also been used since the 14th century, but this did not become common until the mid 20th century. Although the words gender and sex both have the sense ‘the state of being male or female’, they are typically used in slightly different ways: sex tends to refer to biological differences, while gender refers to cultural or social ones


Late Middle English: from Old French gendre (modern genre), based on Latin genus birth, family, nation. The earliest meanings were ‘kind, sort, genus’ and ‘type or class of noun, etc.’ (which was also a sense of Latin genus).