[ hur-maf-ruh-dahyt ]

  1. Biology. an organism, such as an earthworm or plant, having both male and female reproductive organs at the same time or throughout the lifespan.

  2. Older Use: Offensive.

  1. something in which two opposite qualities are combined.

  1. Biology. of, relating to, or characteristic of an organism having both male and female reproductive organs.: See also gynandrous.

  2. Botany. monoclinous.

  1. combining two opposite qualities.

Origin of hermaphrodite

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English hermofrodite, from Latin hermaphrodītus, from Greek hermaphródītos, originally the proper name of the son of Hermes and Aphrodite, Hermaphródītos, whose body became joined with that of the nymph Salmacis

usage note For hermaphrodite

The term hermaphrodite was once commonly used in medical and informal contexts to refer to people, but this use is now dated and considered offensive except when used in self-reference. Intersex has become the preferred term. It can refer to any person with reproductive organs, genitals, hormones, or chromosomal patterns that do not fall under typical definitions of male and female. The term is also sometimes used to describe something that combines two opposing qualities; this may be offensive when applied to people. See also intersex.

Other words from hermaphrodite

  • her·maph·ro·dit·ic [hur-maf-ruh-dit-ik], /hɜrˌmæf rəˈdɪt ɪk/, her·maph·ro·dit·i·cal, adjective
  • her·maph·ro·dit·i·cal·ly, adverb
  • her·maph·ro·dit·ism [hur-maf-ruh-dahy-tiz-uhm], /hɜrˈmæf rə daɪˌtɪz əm/, her·maph·ro·dism [hur-maf-ruh-diz-uhm], /hɜrˈmæf rəˌdɪz əm/, noun

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use hermaphrodite in a sentence

  • The myths frequently hit on the theory of a hermaphroditic being, both male and female, who produces another being out of himself.

  • Not, we must again emphasize, not in a hermaphroditic personality, but in two perfect complementaries—mates; not one but a pair.

  • According to another, he is pictured as a hermaphroditic being, a concept we frequently come across in alchemical literature.

    Bygone Beliefs | H. Stanley Redgrove
  • Castle77 observed and studied the phenomenon of self-sterility in an Ascidian, Ciona intestinalis, which is hermaphroditic.

  • He looked forward to victory this fall over the hermaphroditic ticket of Taylor and Fillmore.

    Children of the Market Place | Edgar Lee Masters

British Dictionary definitions for hermaphrodite


/ (hɜːˈmæfrəˌdaɪt) /

  1. biology an individual animal or flower that has both male and female reproductive organs

  2. a person having both male and female sexual characteristics and genital tissues

  1. a person or thing in which two opposite forces or qualities are combined

  1. having the characteristics of a hermaphrodite

Origin of hermaphrodite

C15: from Latin hermaphrodītus, from Greek, after Hermaphroditus

Derived forms of hermaphrodite

  • hermaphroditic or hermaphroditical, adjective
  • hermaphroditically, adverb
  • hermaphroditism, noun

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

Scientific definitions for hermaphrodite


[ hər-măfrə-dīt′ ]

  1. An organism, such as an earthworm or flowering plant, having both male and female reproductive organs in a single individual.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.