bisexual

[ bahy-sek-shoo-uh l ]
/ baɪˈsɛk ʃu əl /

adjective

Biology.
  1. of both sexes.
  2. combining male and female organs in one individual; hermaphroditic.
noting or relating to a person who is romantically or sexually attracted to both men and women, or to people of various gender identities; ambisexual.

noun

Biology. an animal or plant that has the reproductive organs of both sexes.
a person who is romantically or sexually attracted to both men and women, or to people of various gender identities; ambisexual.

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CHALLENGE YOURSELF WITH THESE WORDS FROM "LITTLE WOMEN"

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earnest

Origin of bisexual

First recorded in 1815–25; bi-1 + sexual

usage note for bisexual

Traditionally bisexual has referred to romantic or sexual attraction to two, and no more than two, genders, specifically male and female. However, the term is increasingly being used to refer to a level of sexual fluidity in which an individual moves bidirectionally along a spectrum of sexuality. This newer sense accounts for attraction to people who do not fall within the gender binary.

OTHER WORDS FROM bisexual

bi·sex·u·al·i·ty, bi·sex·u·al·ism, nounbi·sex·u·al·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

BEHIND THE WORD

What does bisexuality mean?

Bisexuality is a sexual orientation where a person is attracted to people of their own and another gender (e.g., both men and women).

How is bisexuality pronounced?

[ bahy-sek-shoo-al-i-tee ]

What are other forms of bisexuality?

bi (shortened form for bisexual)

What are some other words related to bisexuality?

Where does bisexuality come from?

While we can find discussions and depictions of bisexuality in history, the term bisexual is first seen in the 1790s. Bi- is a Latin-derived prefix meaning “two.”

The term was initially biological, referring to organisms, especially plants, that have both male and female sex organs. In the 1830s, bisexual began describing anything involving or pertaining to both men and women (e.g., a bisexual name). Unisex is the term we’d usually use now.

Bisexuality emerges in the 1890s in a translation of the works of German psychiatrist Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing in his studies of human sexuality. In the 1920s, Sigmund Freud stated that all humans had innate bisexuality. The sexologist Alfred Kinsey helped move bisexuality into mainstream understanding of sexuality in the mid-1900s. His groundbreaking work saw sexuality as a continuum, not absolutes (Kinsey Scale).

During the gay rights movement in the 1960s, bisexual activists formed some of the earliest LGBTQ organizations and demonstrations. In the 1970s, the National Bisexual Liberation Group was founded, as well as a support group called Bi Forum. Bi is a common short form of bisexual.

By the 1990–2000s, bisexuality was a pillar of the queer community, represented by the B in LGBTQ. A number of prominent figures identify as bisexual, including Anna Paquin, Lady Gaga, Kristen Stewart, Alan Cumming, and Jason Mraz.

Evidence suggests that more bisexual individuals are women, which may be due to social norms around masculinity and heteronormativity.

Speaking of norms, bi erasure is when bisexuality gets dismissed as fake, characterized as just a phase on the way to homosexuality or a form of promiscuity, or is ignored in popular media and discourse altogether. It can happen in both the queer and cishet community.

While bisexuality is commonly discussed as the attraction to both men and women, note that bisexuality can be the attraction to people of one’s own gender and to one other gender identity, not necessarily confined to a gender binary.

How is bisexuality used in real life?

Due to ignorance or prejudices, bisexuality is often popularly discussed to assert its legitimacy and demystify misconceptions.

The 2010s, however, saw an increasing acceptance of alternative sexual orientations and gender identities, leading to a growing acceptance of bisexuality, which means more and more people are openly identifying as bisexual and sharing their stories.

More examples of bisexuality:

“Well, I was making an example of my own sexual preferences, which at times have been on either the female gender or the male gender, so bisexuality, if you will. And as I was writing this letter, that Billboard…asked me to write, I realized I couldn’t write it to a community that stood over there.”

—Jeremy Hobson, Here & Now (radio show), August 2018

Example sentences from the Web for bisexuality

British Dictionary definitions for bisexuality

bisexual
/ (baɪˈsɛksjʊəl) /

adjective

sexually attracted by both men and women
showing characteristics of both sexesa bisexual personality
(of some plants and animals) having both male and female reproductive organs
of or relating to both sexes

noun

a bisexual organism; a hermaphrodite
a bisexual person

Derived forms of bisexual

bisexuality (baɪˌsɛksjʊˈælɪtɪ) or esp US bisexualism, nounbisexually, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medical definitions for bisexuality

bisexual
[ bī-sĕkshōō-əl ]

adj.

Relating to both sexes.
Having both male and female reproductive organs; hermaphroditic.
Relating to or having a sexual orientation to persons of either sex.

n.

A bisexual organism; a hermaphrodite.
A bisexual person.

Other words from bisexual

bi′sex•u•ali•ty (-ălĭ-tē) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Cultural definitions for bisexuality

bisexuality

Sexual activity with, or sexual attraction to, members of both sexes.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.