Middle English—s sexeMiddle English— sexs seex. Either of the two main male and female into which humans and many other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions; hence the members of these viewed as a group; the males or females of a particular species, esp.
Occasionally with plural verb.
In extended use, esp. A notional third division of humanity regarded as analogous to, or as falling between, the male and female sexes; spec. With regard to persons or animals. Since the s increasingly replaced by gender see gender n. The word sex tends now to refer to biological differences, while gender often refers to cultural or social ones.
With regard to plants cf.
With the. The female sex. Now archaic or literary. In predicative use, without the. The distinction between male and female, esp.
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Now usually coloured by the more explicit sense at 4b. Physical contact between individuals involving sexual stimulation; sexual activity or behaviour, spec. Now the most common general sense. Sometimes, when denoting sexual activity other than conventional heterosexual intercourse, preceded by modifying adjective, as gayoralphone sexetc.
A person's genitals. In more recent use often ironical or humorous as also in senses Phrases 1b and Phrases 1c.
With comparative adjectives: the fairer also gentler, softer, weaker, etc. Now rare. Chiefly British.
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Frequently attributive : deating a novel of this genre. Sex on the Beach n. Chiefly as predicate. Obsolete rare. Obsolete a person who seeks to abolish sexual differences, or discrimination on the basis of sex.
Apparently an isolated use. Biology a reproductive cell, either male or female in function; a gamete sperm or egg cellor a cell which gives rise to gametes.
Compounds 1. Biology originally the material of the sex chromosomes; the part of the chromatin of a cell which acts as a sex determinant; later spec.
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Biology of or relating to the sex chromosomes. Biology each of the chromosomes normally two in in a cell's chromosomal complement, the particular combination of which normally determines an individual's sex; contrasted with autosome n. In humans and other mammals, normal females have two X chromosomes, males one X and one Y.
In birds and some other animals, males have two Z chromosomes, females one Z and one W. Biology a factor esp. Biology the biological process by which an individual becomes male or female. Biology a gene which determines the sex of the individual bearing it. Biology determining an individual's sex. Biology a gene responsible for determining sex.
Biology usually in plural a glandular organ associated with reproductive functions; esp. Biology any of the natural or synthetic hormones that affect sexual development or behaviour, esp. Compounds 2. Biology an individual having some cells that are genetically of one sex and the rest of the other sex. Occasionally quot.
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Cultural Anthropology among some southern and south-eastern Australian Aboriginal peoples a totem specific to either men or women. Typically used esp. Sort by: Entry Date. All rights reserved. Oxford English Dictionary The definitive record of the English language. Quick search:. Text size: A A. Keywords: On Off. Quotations: Show all Hide all. Pronunciation: Brit.
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Origin: Of multiple origins. Partly a borrowing from French. Partly a borrowing from Latin. Etymons: French sexe ; Latin sexus. Compare Old Occitan sexeCatalan sexeSpanish sexo first half of the 15th cent. Latin had also a form secusneuter indeclinable. Thesaurus ». Trevisa tr. Chaucer tr. Boethius De Consol. BL Add. Clark Archit. More Confut. Tyndales Answere ii. Aylmer Harborowe sig.
E4 v Neither of them debarred the heires female.
Sidney Arcadia ii. P3 v The sexe of womankind of all other is most bound to haue regardfull eie to mens iudgements. Nashe Summers Last Will sig.
F3 v A woman they imagine her to be, Because that sexe keepes nothing close they heare. Johnson Crowne-Garland Goulden Roses sig. E8 v Our sex are given to range. Milton Samson Agonistes It was a weakness In me, but incident to all our sex. View more context for this quotation. Brown Satire against Woman in Wks.
Swift Let. Whiteway 28 Dec. You have neither the scrawl nor the spelling of your sex. Williams in J. Jesse G.