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From German Intersexe; corresponding to inter- +‎ sex.



intersex (not comparable)

  1. (of an individual) Having any of a variety of inherent conditions (in a species with distinct sexes) in which one's sex characteristics differ from those of a typical male and female; for example, having sex characteristics relating to both male and female sexes.
    Antonyms: dyadic, endosex, perisex
    • 2006, Dean Spade, “Compliance Is Gendered: Struggling for Gender Self-Determination in a Hostile Economy”, in Paisley Currah et al., editors, Transgender Rights, University of Minnesota Press, →ISBN, page 225:
      His confidentiality was broken, and soon the entire staff and residential population were aware that Jim was intersex. [] we faced the fact that most programs were gender segregated and would not be a safe place for Jim to be known as intersex.
    • 2010, Sean Saifa Wall, “I am the ‘I’”, in Kate Bornstein, S. Bear Bergman, editors, Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, Seal Press, →ISBN, page 109:
      When I had learned that I was intersex, I brought this issue to my mother.
    • 2010 June 3, The Age:
      A survey of 1100 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people by Griffith and Bond University researchers found that the overwhelming majority had been victims of targeted harassment as well as physical and sexual abuse.
  2. (fantasy) A person who can get pregnant and also impregnate someone else.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Since about the turn of the millennium (2000), the adjective intersex and noun phrase intersex person have been preferred to hermaphroditic and hermaphrodite as being more appropriate when the referent is human.
  • As with sex in general, intersex is an independent variable from gender, and many intersex people identify as cisgender men or women.


Derived terms[edit]



intersex (plural intersexes)

  1. The condition of being intersex; intersexuality.
    • 1953 February 23, Time:
      A Canadian believes that he has solved the diagnostic problem in human intersex. All human cells, says Dr. Murray L. Barr of the University of Western Ontario, contain something called sex chromatin.
    • 2003, Andrew J Lawrence et al., Effects of Pollution on Fish, page 204:
      A much more common condition caused by early exposure of fish larvae to oestrogenic substances is intersex, which in males usually takes the form of ovotestis.
  2. (biology, zoology) An individual with any of these conditions.
    • 1948, Alfred Kinsey with Wardell Baxter Pomeroy and Clyde Eugene Martin, Sexual behavior in the human male, page 659:
      Goldschmidt and others who have thought of the homosexual individual as an intersex have relied upon incidence figures which were pure guesses and which, as the data in the present chapter will show, bear little relation to the fact....
    • 1955, Curt Stern, Principles of Human Genetics, page 374:
      Conversely, a fertilized egg with one X-chromosome would develop not into a male but into an intersex []
    • 1970, Sexology, volume 37, page 26:
      Pseudo-hermaphrodites or other intersexes are not to be confused with transsexualists; transvestites may be transsexualists, but not necessarily.
    • 2003, Peggy Tine Cohen-Kettenis with Friedemann Pfäfflin, Transgenderism and intersexuality in childhood and adolescence, page 155:
      Genital surgery on intersexes has been performed for about a century
    • 2009, Mary C Smith, David Sherman, Goat Medicine, page 609:
      An intersex, then, is an animal that shows both male and female characteristics.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Since about the turn of the millennium (2000), the noun intersex has become more common than intersexuality.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


intersex (third-person singular simple present intersexes, present participle intersexing, simple past and past participle intersexed)

  1. (nonstandard) To make intersex.
    Synonym: intersexualize
    • 2013, Patrick Colm Hogan, Ulysses and the Poetics of Cognition, →ISBN, page 176:
      The point is significant in light of current political issues surrounding real intersexed individuals. [...] It is clearly the case that physical intersexing and psychological androgyny do not conform to sex and gender norms in society. [...]


See also[edit]