References to males and females – part 2
December 11th, 2010 in Writing
Actor, actress etc
A few jobs and positions have different words for men and women.
Examples are given below:
Man / Woman
Actor / actress
bride groom / bride
duke / duchess
hero / heroine
host / hostess
poet / poetess
monk / nun
prince / princess
waiter / waitress
widower / widow
A mayor can be a man or a woman. Similarly, a doctor can be a man or a woman. In British English, a mayoress is the wife of a male mayor. Similarly, a governess is the wife of a male governor.
The words authoress and poetess are now seldom used. Instead we use the words author and poet for both men and women.
Words ending in -man
Many words ending in -man (e.g. chairman, postman, watchman, fireman etc) do not have a common feminine equivalent. Since many women do not like being called a chairman or spokesman, these words are now often avoided in reference to women. In many cases we use -person instead of -man.
Susie has been elected chairperson of our society.
The spokesperson declined to comment.
Note that words like spokeswoman are also becoming more common. Another trend is to use words which are not gender-marked.
Firefighter instead of fireman
Flight attendant instead of steward or stewardess
Ms is often used instead of Mrs or Miss. Like Mr, the title Ms can be used for both married and unmarried women.