1. Sociology: a range of characteristics of femininity, masculinity and others described as third gender. Depending on the context, the describing characteristics vary from sex to social roles (gender roles) to gender identity. The academic interdisciplinary field gender studies focuses on gender. Sexologist John Money introduced the terminological distinction between biological sex and gender as a role in 1955. Before his work, it was uncommon to use the word “gender” to refer to anything but grammatical categories. However, Money’s meaning of the word did not become widespread until the 1970s, when feminist theory embraced the distinction between biological sex and the social construct of gender. Today, the distinction is strictly followed in some contexts, like medicine, social sciences, feminist literature, documents written by organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), and in some dictionaries, but in many contexts, even in some areas of social sciences, the meaning of gender has expanded to include “sex” or even to replace the latter word. Although this gradual change in the meaning of gender can be traced to the 1980s, a small acceleration of the process in the scientific literature was observed when the Food and Drug Administration started to use “gender” instead of “sex” in 1993. “Gender” is now commonly used even to refer to the physiology of non-human animals, without any implication of social gender roles.

2. Grammar: a) (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). b) one class of such a set. c) such classes or sets collectively or in general. d) membership of a word or grammatical form, or an inflectional form showing membership, in such a class.

3. Archaic: kind, sort, or class.


4. Archaic: to engender.

2. Obsolete: to breed.

[Eduardo Bertone]