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Sex and gender[edit]

sex does not refer to gender. It's common in everyday language, which should be noted. But in an effort to provide accurate information, these words should be distinguished from each other appropriately 22:38, 21 November 2006

Some senses of both words are synonymous. Providing accurate information involves mentioning that, although prescriptivist attempts to alter their usage should also be noted. — LlywelynII 16:36, 12 November 2015 (UTC)


The Icelandic word for six in not derived from the Latin sex, which is written in this article. They are just cognates that appear similarily in both languages. 15:24, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Greek translation of fornication( not technically sex)[edit]

I believe that, one of the greek translations of fornication is συνουσία, and their should be made a page for it(I saw the word in the translation box for sex under Greek). And I would also like to know how it is pronounced in IPA. Bugboy52.4 23:39, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

Pronounced /ˈsi.a/. Means copulation, coition, coupling, sexual intercourse. —Stephen 23:45, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
Thank you, i have been lookin' for the translation all day! Now i have one more question, I have heard of many translations of the word, can you tell me wich one is correct, "por‧nei′a", (from "forniquer", or "/ˈsi.a/"? Can they all be correct, like synonyms? Bugboy52.4 00:32, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
I don’t understand your question. Are you asking about Greek πορνεία (prostitution, fornication), French forniquer (to fornicate), or Greek συνουσία (sexual intercourse)? Or what? —Stephen 01:47, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm sorry to confuse you, I relized my mistake. I had the language setting on the translator set on French, and I thought that the other two Greek words ment the same thing, sorry to waste your time, but thank you for your help(for petes sake I confuse myself sometimes) Bugboy52.4 01:59, 17 October 2008 (UTC)

RFV discussion[edit]

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Rfv-sense English noun #4: "the sex. Women; womankind. Also, the fair sex, the fairer sex, the whimsical sex."

Added long ago with [1]. The two citations do not seem to support the idea that "the sex" refers to womankind. Rather, both are used in contexts where it is clear that the phrase refers to women because of the context provided by the previous text. For example, the Doyle quote: "...he had a remarkable gentleness and courtesy in his dealings with women. He disliked and distrusted the sex..." Such quotes could be used just as easily for any similar noun (e.g., "Men produce more testosterone. The sex is characterized by greater average height and weight."), so this is probably covered by the first sense, or needs better citation. Dominic·t 01:52, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

In English, I don't know. But the definition provided, and associated comments (dated, with the article...), perfectly apply to sexe in French.It would have to be kept (for French). Other phrases worth keeping, in French, are: le beau sexe, le sexe faible. Lmaltier 07:01, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
We wouldn't keep a misleading English definition just because there is a foreign-language definition. Instead, we would just add that sense to sexe, translating it as "womankind" on its entry, and not need the sense at the English sex at all. Dominic·t 08:41, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
  • I disagree. "The sex" never refers to men. This collocation was extremely common in the 18th and 19th centuries. Ƿidsiþ 11:40, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Chambers has it: "the sex, archaic: the female sex, women". Equinox 18:02, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
I am perfectly willing to believe that it exists, but it needs good, demonstrable quotations. I don't think the current ones there even support the given definition, even if such a sense exists. Dominic·t 07:54, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
The citations do support the definition. You are claiming that context provides the meaning, but if you do some research you will see that your made-up sentence about men does not occur in the real world, where "the sex" can only ever refer to women. Ƿidsiþ 07:35, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
I would claim that it is impossible to say whether the citations support the definition without reading preceding paragraphs, and even then it is probably a matter of opinion. In some cases, there might be some very limited evidence for a female-only sense, but what about this quote from "The Lancet": The errors of education in women, the excesses in drinking in men, are not causes inherent to the sex ... ? We can only say that "the sex" refers back to the last-mentioned gender(s) and would only refer specifically to the female if that is the gender under discussion ( which it often is!). Dbfirs 00:58, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
  • Some of the cites provided seem to make it unambiguous that the reference is to females. I wonder if the term is not now "obsolete" rather than "archaic". I don't know how many of the citations merit being in principal namespace as they don't seem valuable for attestation and provide little useful usage guidance if the term is obsolete. DCDuring TALK 21:26, 17 July 2010 (UTC)

RFV passed.RuakhTALK 17:13, 14 August 2010 (UTC)

  • Comment: Well, that was a lousy RFV. Widsith was simply wrong about those citations supporting the definition. It seems to have reached the right conclusion though. The OED has that definition and, while some of their examples are just as bad as these, some aren't and actually reflect a usage specific to the female sex. — LlywelynII 16:36, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

etymology of sex[edit]

this is pure speculation, but it seems to make sense that a sexuality is a duality except with 6 things instead of 2. There also seem to be 6 aspects to sexuality: man/woman,gay/straight, butch/femme. so maybe that's what sexuality refers to to. We know from Foucault's research that it was a more complex thing in olden times Natmanprime 20:34, 5 November 2010 (UTC)

Your gross oversimplification of the various aspects of sexuality saddens me. — [ R·I·C ] Laurent — 21:32, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

Improper synonym listing[edit]

Gender is not a synonym, see the page for well... gender. --Deuxhero 19:54, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

Gender is a synonym for some senses. See the pages for prescriptivist and descriptivist. — LlywelynII 16:36, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

William Blackstone citation under wrong sense[edit]

The Blackstone citation has "female honor, which is dearer to the sex than their lives". I think that "the sex" here is just a reference back to "female" in the same sentence, and not the other "sex" that was used to refer to womankind. Equinox 14:31, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

Quite. — LlywelynII 16:36, 12 November 2015 (UTC)


Re this diff: If, as I imagine is the case, enough sources intentionally use the spelling "sex", Wiktionary practice is to descriptively label it a ({{proscribed}}) alternative spelling, rather than a misspelling. Misspellings are spellings people use by mistake, rather than by intent. - -sche (discuss) 03:09, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

Proscribed has a different meaning in Dutch than it does in English, because Dutch has an official body that regulates the spelling of words. The official spelling is seks. The usage note about connotation is kind of true though, "seks" can be perceived as more "correct" and thus more boring than the more popular and English-based "sex". —CodeCat 21:48, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

Pass a Method[edit]

Could some logged-in user undo ? -- 02:25, 19 May 2013 (UTC)

Why? —CodeCat 02:26, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
Ehmm, because the English as used by most speakers of English has only two sexes, e.g. What sex is that hamster? (an example sentence) doesn't ask for "sometimes intersex". -- 02:46, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
The English used by most speakers ignores some details, those details should be marked IMHO, but those details shouldn't be mentioned at the most prominent meaning. -- 02:46, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
I've modified the definition a bit. What do you think of it now? - -sche (discuss) 05:05, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
Well, IMHO it still gives undue weight to parts of a definition. Those parts of the definition may be (IMHO: are) right, but wiktionary doesn't prescribe, it describes. Almost all countable uses of "sex" only mean "male or female". -- 19:43, 19 October 2013 (UTC)

Usage note[edit]

I'm sure the invested editors will eventually restore the phrasing but it's worth noting that

Some speakers, particularly in informal contexts, use sex and gender synonymously (interchangeably). In formal contexts, a distinction is usually made between sex (which is biological) and gender (which is social).

is biased to the point of outright lying. There are distinct senses of sex and gender (viz., the latter's use as a linguistic category). However, the relevant definitions concerning human sexuality are not considered synonymous by "some speakers... in informal contexts". They are broadly synonymous in actual use by most speakers of the language. Meanwhile, the idea that there exists a socially-constructed "gender" distinguishable from "sex" is not "formal": it's an accepted linguistic convention within some academic fields.

I understand this is one of the major battlefields for linguistic prescriptivists—see the editors above flatly stating that one view is "correct" and the other a "mistake"—but, as a general matter of policy, Wiktionary is descriptivist, right? — LlywelynII 16:36, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

Surely it’s referring to the non-linguistic senses of the word gender. — Ungoliant (falai) 16:48, 12 November 2015 (UTC)
Quite. And therefore unsourced (and blatantly misstated) prescriptivism, hence my objection and desire to find more neutral phrasing. — LlywelynII 22:08, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

Repeated assertions regarding superbinary sexes in other species[edit]

I removed them per Wikipedia's sex article, which has (a) no mention of them and (b) multiple sources denying that any multicellular species has more than two gametes. Any 3rd, 4th,... nth "sex" organism would therefore not fall under the reproductive sense of the word but be examples similar to human "third sex"es, where a separate category is being created on the basis of sexual activity (gay penguins), lack thereof (worker bees), &c.

On the other hand, Wikipedia isn't really a sure source and I do defer to the idea's future readmission with better sourcing than a user-created example stating that the idea's mistaken. — LlywelynII 22:20, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

"Membership in these categories: the state of being male, female..."[edit]

The citation under this sense is so old that it's not English (it's Middle English), and it's also not at all clear. If you substitute the definition into the sentence, it becomes "This word was passed by the mouth of a woman of frail [state of being 'female', or 'male' etc]" or "...of frail [membership in the category 'female', or 'male' etc]", which doesn't make sense. Can better citations be found? - -sche (discuss) 03:15, 13 November 2015 (UTC)

age, sex, and other factors[edit]

Which sense of "sex" is being used in a sentence like "the effectiveness of the medication is dependent upon age, sex, and other factors"? Sense 1? Sense 4? Prior to the entry being rewritten, that usex was under the sense "The sum of the biological characteristics by which male and female and other organisms are distinguished", but that sense did seem like a kludge. - -sche (discuss) 03:15, 13 November 2015 (UTC)

RFV discussion: March–May 2017[edit]

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Rfv-sense "woman". Someone tagged this but never listed it.__Gamren (talk) 07:27, 23 March 2017 (UTC)

The tagger was me; sorry; thanks for listing it. Specifically, the sense in question is "a woman", as distinct from use of the sex (women collectively), which at the time was a separate sense in this entry, confirming that "a woman" was intended to be distinct from that.
(Another sense added by the same user was "Membership in these categories", with a citation that wasn't even English! The entry has been significantly cleaned up since that time.)
As an aside, with regard to the move of "the sex", I've started WT:BP#Where to record usage of the form "the X". - -sche (discuss) 07:48, 23 March 2017 (UTC)
RFV-failed. The one quotation was a translation, which (in the absence of any other citations showing this sense) it could be analysed as a poetic variation on "[member of] the sex":
  • 1700, John Dryden translating Boccaccio, Fables Ancient & Modern, "Cymon & Iphigenia", 554:
    She hugg'd th' Offender, and forgave th' Offence, Sex to the last.
- -sche (discuss) 15:18, 31 May 2017 (UTC)