"Male" and "Female" as synonyms for "Man" and "Woman"? non-zombie version

To continue the discussion without the zombie aspect.
(Refer to this link and be sure not to expect comments from the early-date posters: "Male" and "Female" as synonyms for "Man" and "Woman"? - In My Humble Opinion - Straight Dope Message Board )

Shortened OP:

One difference is that “females” and “males” include children as well as adults – this may be important in some contexts, e.g., “Males have a shorter life expectancy at birth than females.” That sentence would look odd with “men” and “women”.

My pet peeve ‘Is America Ready for a Woman President?’ The idiocy of the question aside, how men ‘Men Presidents’ have there been, anyway?

Is this a trick question? It’s 42 or 43, depending on whether you count one man once or twice.

“Woman” is not now, or has it ever been, an adjective. A “Woman President” would be someone (male or female) who presides over a woman. The rule is “Use adjectives for descriptions and only if they are germaine to the discussion or are needed for clarity.” “Executive Jane Smith” is fine. “Female Executive Chris Rock” is okay.

Hilary Clinton might be our first Female President. I think we are ready for her.

As I said in the other thread - while there are times “male” and “female” are the best term, I think the interchangability of man/male and woman/female has probably been encouraged by stupid reporters trying to sound like cops. I don’t know why cops talk like this either, but there you go.

I don’t know if it makes a difference, but all of the military folks I know say “male” and “female” as opposed to “man” and “woman”. You know, like, “There were so many females at the beach blah blah”.

I’ve caught myself utilizing “male” and “female”, but I entirely blame my friends.

Do you have any idea what you’re doing to my blood pressure? :mad:


Romance language more refined than Germanic? Fornicate that excrement! Now I’m urinated off. :wink: :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, I guess it might be a way to keep things clinical or asexual or whatever, so I can see military personnel using it on the job, but in everyday conversation with their civilian friends???

shrug I just don’t think they even realize what they are doing- they regularly use military acronyms and stuff as well. I’m around them all enough to have an idea what they are talking about most of the time, but some of our other friends end up incredibly confused.

But not all modifiers are adjectives. English uses nouns as modifiers. And “woman” as a modifier goes back to 1300.

According to William Safire an apposite noun like this is “stronger than an adjective” because while “both words can be used as modifiers of nouns” an adjective “adds color to a noun, while apposite nouns are part of the basis of meaning of a noun phrase.”

I kind of like “woman” myself. A female can be of any species (that has them); a woman is a human being.

(Also, you should have said “nor” instead of “or.” I now quiver in anticipation of Gaudere’s thunderbolt.)

It’s the same way with police. They get to speaking like their training textbooks. Instead of thief, they have to say accused or suspect so as not to give ammo to the defense team later. My police friends talk like they are addressing a courtroom on their best behavior, even when it’s a private dinner party.