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  • (UK) IPA(key): /tuːˈspɪɹɪt/, /ˈtuːˌspɪɹɪt/

Etymology 1[edit]

A calque of Ojibwe niizh manidoowag ‎(two spirits), from niizh ‎(two) + manidoo ‎(spirit).[1] Replaced berdache, which had come to be considered offensive.


two-spirit ‎(not comparable)

  1. (of a Native American) Identifying as transgender, or as any of various tribal third genders, rather than as cismale or cisfemale.
    • 1996, Ritch C Savin-Williams & Kenneth M Cohen, The Lives of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals: Children to Adults, p. 421:
      A Hupa two-spirit male told me: ‘I was real feminine as a child, from as early as I can remember.’
    • 1997, Sue-Ellen Jacobs, Wesley Thomas & Sabine Lang, Two-spirit People, p. 4:
      With this etymology, it should come as no surprise that many Native American gay, lesbian, transgender, and other two-spirit people consider the term ‘berdache’ derogatory.
    • 2010, Walter L Williams, The Guardian, 11 Oct 2010:
      Instead of seeing two-spirit persons as transsexuals who try to make themselves into "the opposite sex", it is more accurate to understand them as individuals who take on a gender status that is different from both men and women.


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two-spirit ‎(plural two-spirits)

  1. A Native (North) American who is not a cisgender male or female, but rather is transgender or belongs to belongs to any of various tribal third genders.
    • 2009, James Neill, The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies, page 38:
      Because of their spiritual powers, sex with a two-spirit was often considered to bring good luck.
  • berdache (now often considered offensive)

See also[edit]


Etymology 2[edit]

From two +‎ spirit.


two-spirit ‎(not comparable)

  1. (theology) Involving two spirits; especially, pertaining to the doctrine of dualism espoused in the so-called Treatise on the Two Spirits in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
    • 1957, The Harvard Divinity School bulletin (Harvard University Press), page 133:
      Paul's grasp of the Spirit as the sign of the erupting messianic age is at odds with the two-spirit thought of Qumran which never became incompatible with law observance.