[ jen-der ]
See synonyms for gender on
  1. either the male or female division of a species, especially as differentiated by social and cultural roles and behavior: the feminine gender. : Compare sex1 (def. 1).

  2. a similar category of human beings that is outside the male/female binary classification.: See also third gender (def. 1), genderqueer (def. 3), nonbinary (def. 3).

  1. the concept or system of categories such as male and female: Gender is a factor in pay rates across industries.More and more people have a nonbinary understanding of gender.

  2. Grammar.

    • (in many languages) a set of classes that together include all nouns, membership in a particular class being shown by the form of the noun itself or by the form or choice of words that modify, replace, or otherwise refer to the noun, as, in English, the choice of he to replace the man, of she to replace the woman, of it to replace the table, of it or she to replace the ship. The number of genders in different languages varies from 2 to more than 20; often the classification correlates in part with sex or animateness. The most familiar sets of genders are of three classes (as masculine, feminine, and neuter in Latin and German) or of two (as common and neuter in Dutch, or masculine and feminine in French and Spanish).

    • one class of such a set.

    • such classes or sets collectively or in general.

    • membership of a word or grammatical form, or an inflectional form showing membership, in such a class.

  3. Archaic. kind, sort, or class.

verb (used with object)
  1. to attribute gender to, or to classify by gender: Gendering soaps seems a bit much—can't men and women use the same products?Usually when I wear my hair down people gender me as female.

Origin of gender

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English, from Middle French gendre, genre, from Latin gener- (stem of genus ) “kind, sort”

usage note For gender

It is possible to define gender as interchangeable with “sex,” indicating that the term can be used when differentiating male creatures from female ones biologically. However, the concept of gender, a word primarily applied to human beings, has additional connotations having to do with general behavior, social interactions, and most importantly, one's fundamental sense of self.
People increasingly recognize that a complex spectrum between male and female exists not only mentally, psychologically, and behaviorally, but also anatomically—there have always been intersex people. The conflation of gender with sex, though historically common, is now often criticized because it is seen by some to be insensitive or dehumanizing.
People who do not question their assigned gender are usually referred to as cisgender, or just cis— as in a cis male or a cis female. Using cis is a way to refer to these individuals without implying that cisgender people are the only norm. Those who don't identify with the gender assigned to them at birth are often referred to using the umbrella term transgender, though not everyone labeled in this way accepts the designation. The term transgender includes both binary trans people and those who are outside of the male–female binary in some way, including nonbinary and genderqueer people.
After realizing their gender, many transgender people may change the way they dress, speak, or otherwise present themselves. Some may transition medically through surgery, hormone replacement therapy, and other procedures. Some may want to change the language people use to refer to them, including things like given name and pronouns as well as gender labels. This array of life experiences has resulted in a veritable explosion of new, or newly adapted, vocabulary.

Other words from gender

  • gen·der·less, adjective

Words that may be confused with gender

Other definitions for gender (2 of 2)

[ jen-der ]

verb (used with or without object)
  1. Archaic. to engender.

  2. Obsolete. to breed.

Origin of gender

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English gendren, from Old French gendrer, from Latin generāre “to beget,” derivative of genus gender1, genus Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use gender in a sentence

  • The atom of that sexual world was the genderless human being, a generic existence not yet defined by sexual differentiation.

British Dictionary definitions for gender


/ (ˈdʒɛndə) /

  1. a set of two or more grammatical categories into which the nouns of certain languages are divided, sometimes but not necessarily corresponding to the sex of the referent when animate: See also natural gender

  2. any of the categories, such as masculine, feminine, neuter, or common, within such a set

  1. informal the state of being male, female, or neuter

  2. informal all the members of one sex: the female gender

Origin of gender

C14: from Old French gendre, from Latin genus kind

Derived forms of gender

  • genderless, adjective

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

Cultural definitions for gender


A grammatical category indicating the sex, or lack of sex, of nouns and pronouns. The three genders are masculine, feminine, and neuter. He is a masculine pronoun; she is a feminine pronoun; it is a neuter pronoun. Nouns are classified by gender according to the gender of the pronoun that can substitute for them. In English, gender is directly indicated only by pronouns.

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.