Definition of gender in English:



  • 1Either of the two sexes (male and female), especially when considered with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones. The term is also used more broadly to denote a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female.

    ‘a condition that affects people of both genders’
    ‘someone of the opposite gender’
    ‘everyone always asks which gender I identify as’
    1. 1.1 Members of a particular gender considered as a group.
      ‘social interaction between the genders’
      ‘encouraging women and girls to join fields traditionally dominated by the male gender’
      • ‘When it came to choosing courses, the report shows substantial differences between the genders.’
      • ‘It's not entirely clear why there is a difference between the genders.’
      • ‘Those that will go in hardest will be members of her own gender.’
      • ‘Additionally, there were no differences between genders in weekday or weekend physical activity.’
      • ‘Also, a focus on differences between the genders often implies similarity within each gender.’
      • ‘However, differences between genders in reporting styles should be the subject of further study.’
      • ‘Identity differences between genders has been examined using both interview and questionnaire methods.’
      • ‘But one size may not fit all, and there may be important differences between genders and races.’
      • ‘We were finally starting to understand differences in the genders.’
      • ‘The research team now hope to examine the difference between the genders and find ways to redress the balance.’
      • ‘The difference between genders, however, was statistically significant.’
      • ‘There is little difference between the two genders in terms of fitness as a reason.’
      • ‘Her act is still female biased but her appeal crosses the genders and her self-deprecation is acid sharp as ever.’
      • ‘For older women and men, the overall rates drop, but the difference between genders appears to grow.’
      • ‘Not only do they exist, they ensure their equality with men while recognizing the differences between both genders.’
      • ‘You introduced the idea that there is a difference between the genders, which is intuitive.’
      • ‘This would allow the genders to see the other's perspective and would encourage understanding.’
      • ‘Women are also more at risk of poverty than men, although this is reversed when unemployed or retired members of both genders are compared.’
      • ‘Also, there are differences between the genders that aren't all sociological.’
      • ‘One of the things I love about classical ballet is the difference between the two genders.’
    2. 1.2mass noun The fact or condition of belonging to or identifying with a particular gender.
      ‘video ads will target users based only on age and gender’
      ‘traditional concepts of gender’
      ‘I'm a strong believer that gender is fluid’
      • ‘They argue that existing differences in the lives of women and men derive from cultural definitions of gender roles.’
      • ‘The challenge now is to enlist technology as an ally in the movement for economic, social and gender equity.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As more women survive into old age, the role of gender differences among older adults will become more important.’
      • ‘It is well established that testosterone in males plays a key role in this gender difference.’
      • ‘The construction of male and female gender roles was masculinist in nature.’
      • ‘The media gives us gender roles and social norms to mimic and worship as creed.’
      • ‘It is a monument to all horses from racehorse to dray and represents both the male and female gender in its impressive form.’
      • ‘According to researchers, gender differences play a role in drug abuse and addiction.’
      • ‘A whole set of other factors clustered around gender roles pertain to female singers.’
      • ‘One major reason for differences in gender roles is the need for power over the lives of other people.’
      • ‘Nothing influences the experience of law more than the culture of gender roles in society.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The study of biologically based gender differences is in the stumbling steps of infancy.’
      • ‘So one might expect to see some feminisation of the basic male gender behaviour in play.’
      • ‘The parents were instructed to unequivocally nurture his female gender role.’
      • ‘Male traditional gender roles were related only to the last step of seeking treatment.’
      • ‘The group has been consistently focussing on its three major concerns of gender, culture and social activism.’
  • 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.

    • ‘There are three noun cases and two genders and the idiosyncrasies are intimidating.’
    • ‘Modern English has also lost its system of classifying nouns into three grammatical genders, as still occurs in German.’
    • ‘As is well known, nouns in German are assigned to one of three genders, masculine, feminine, and neuter.’
    • ‘Most languages have a gender for nouns; in French, a pencil is male, and a pen is female.’
    • ‘This North Queensland language has four genders: masculine, feminine, edible and neuter.’
    1. 2.1mass 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 denoting biological sex 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 are often used interchangeably, they have slightly different connotations; sex tends to refer to biological differences, while gender more often refers to cultural and social differences and sometimes encompasses a broader range of identities than the binary of male and female


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).