Definition of common gender in US English:

common gender


  • 1The gender of those nouns in English that are not limited to either sex, such as cousin or spouse.

    • ‘This fourth approach appears to be the one most likely to succeed, both because it sticks with nouns and pronouns of common gender, so-called because they are gender-inclusive rather than gender-distinctive, and also because Common and Vulgar English have long used the plural pronouns in these positions.’
    • ‘Historically, if a language possesses a gender system and distinguishes between "he" and "she," then one or the other will also tend to be the common gender for when both genders are involved.’
    • ‘Now, many occupations are treated as having common gender, representing both males and females.’
  • 2In some languages, such as Latin, the gender of those nouns that may be either masculine or feminine but not neuter.

  • 3In some languages, such as modern Danish, the gender of those nouns derived from the earlier masculine and feminine genders that do not belong to the neuter gender.

    • ‘Masculine and feminine gender have all been combined together to form the common gender.’
    • ‘The Romance languages have lost the Classical Latin neuter gender, while Dutch, Danish and Swedish have merged masculine and feminine to form the common gender.’