a. A grammatical category, often designated as male, female, or neuter, used in the classification of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and, in some languages, verbs that may be arbitrary or based on characteristics such as sex or animacy and that determines agreement with or selection of modifiers, referents, or grammatical forms.
b. The fact of being classified as belonging to such a category: agreement in gender, number, and case.
a. Either of the two divisions, designated female and male, by which most organisms are classified on the basis of their reproductive organs and functions; sex.
b. One's identity as female or male or as neither entirely female nor entirely male.
c. Females or males considered as a group: Students lined up with the genders in different lines.
tr.v. gen·dered, gen·der·ing, gen·ders
[Middle English gendre, from Old French, kind, gender, from Latin genus, gener-; see genə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: Some people maintain that the word sex should be reserved for reference to the biological aspects of being male or female or to sexual activity, and that the word gender should be used only to refer to sociocultural roles. Accordingly, one would say The effectiveness of the treatment appears to depend on the sex of the patient and In society, gender roles are clearly defined. In some situations this distinction avoids ambiguity, as in gender research, which is clear in a way that sex research is not. The distinction can be problematic, however. Linguistically, there isn't any real difference between gender bias and sex bias, and it may seem contrived to insist that sex is incorrect in this instance.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus