Slang dictionary

sigma male

[ sig-muh meyl ]

What is a sigma male?

Sigma male is a slang term used in masculinist subcultures for a popular, successful, but highly independent and self-reliant man. Another term for a sigma male is a lone wolf.

Sigma male has seen most of its usage by the same members of what is known as the manosphere and who use other Greek letters to form a social hierarchy, such as alpha male, beta male, and omega male. The term has also been used to mock all of these labels used to categorize men. 

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Related words

alpha, beta, omega wolf, omega rage, manosphere, incel

Where does sigma male come from?

Sigma is the name of the 18th letter of the Greek alphabet, Capital sigma is written as Σ; lowercase sigma is written as σ and ς at the end of words. Sigma is transliterated as the English letter S and s. In fact, the English letter S develops from the Greek sigma. Sigma follows the pattern in masculinist subcultures of using (often sequential) letters of the Greek alphabet to create a social hierarchy of masculinity, e.g., alpha, beta, gamma, delta, and omega males.

The term sigma male seems to be a creation of far-right activist and writer Theodore Robert Beale, who goes by Vox Day. Beale began using the term as early as January 2010, when he defined it on his blog. Why Beale chose specifically sigma (as opposed to other letters yet untaken in masculinist discourse) is unclear. 

While a so-called alpha male is aggressive, sociable, and outgoing, the sigma male is constructed as succeeding in life and in relationships without actively engaging in social interaction. The sigma male is introverted and shuns mainstream society, yet still manages to be a successful man who is popular with women.

Beale described sigma males as “lone wolves” and likened them to introverted alpha males. He singled out actor Clint Eastwood’s movie characters as examples of sigma males. In a more recent post about the topic, he would further define the sigma male as “The outsiders who don’t play the social game and manage to win at it anyhow.” According to Beale, alpha males dislike sigma males because sigma males effortlessly succeed while alpha males have to work hard to achieve their status.

Sigma male would remain relatively obscure over the rest of the decade. It would mainly be used by followers of Beale and other members of the manosphere who came across it. In 2014, author John Alexander would use the term in the title of his relationship advice book The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want.

On January 25, 2021, Twitter user Lily Simpson brought wider attention to sigma male when she posted several images using the term.

Simpson’s tweet was repeatedly shared and caused many Twitter users to mock the term, often using images of the character Commander Sigma from the Mega Man X series of video games.

An article published on January 27, 2021 in MEL Magazine by Miles Klee, called “Everything You Never Wanted to Know About the ‘Sigma Male’,” brought further mainstream attention to the term.

Examples of sigma male

sigma males are just dudes with a superiority complex with no friends
@lastcoyotes, January 25, 2021
A sigma male is, essentially, an introverted alpha male, offering misguided men a chance to place themselves at the very top of this imaginary hierarchy, without the loud, boisterous personality that an “alpha” boasts.
Dani Di Placido, Forbes, January 26, 2021

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Who uses sigma male?

The term sigma male is sometimes used sincerely by those who identify with this category of men, but it is also mocked or used ironically by those who think the idea is ridiculous.

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This is not meant to be a formal definition of sigma male like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of sigma male that will help our users expand their word mastery.