Sex vs. gender

Hello guys,
can you please tell me when you say SEX and when you say GENDER? For example on applications forms we usually use SEX why dont we use GENDER?

Thank you very much,

“sex” is the biological distinction. “gender” refers to the categorisation of inanimate nouns as “masculine” or “feminine” in some languages, and is also now widely used when discussing cultural associations surrounding masculinity and femininity (as distinct from the biological aspect). In addition, because “sex” is now so often understood to mean “sexual intercourse” (or other sexual activity), you may find “gender” used as a euphemism for “sex” in the biological male-or-female sense. (This reminds me of ancient jokes about demographic statistics showing people “broken down by sex and age”, people writing “very seldom” next to “sex” on forms, and so on.)

You can see from the graph at … moothing=3 how the fashionability of the word “gender” has skyrocketed in modern times.

Hi Dozy,

Thanks for your post. Can you please tell me again why you think the word ‘sex’ appears to be used more often on application forms than the word ‘gender’?


TOEIC listening, talks: A person announces a raffle explaining the rules and prizes[YSaerTTEW443543]

Because they are asking about your biological sex. The fuzzier connotations of “gender” are not required.

What about the following phrase, why is the word ‘gender’ used here:

… people should be protected from sexual harassment regardless of their gender.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, talks: Travel agent gives a customer his travel booking details via voice mail message[YSaerTTEW443543]

It’s because it has that “cultural associations” fuzziness that I spoke of (rather than being purely scientific and biological). There may also be an element of euphemism.

Hi Dozy, thanks a lot for this. I think I’m starting to get the drift…[YSaerTTEW443543]

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