Pronunciation Noun


  1. (countable) A category into which sexually-reproducing organisms are divided on the basis of their reproductive roles in their species.
    The effect of the medication is dependent upon age, sex, and other factors.
    • ante 1382 Bible (Wycliffite), Genesis, Chapter vi, Verse 19:
      Of all þingez hauyng soule of eny flesch: two þou schalt brynge in to þe ark, þat male sex & female […]
    • 1994, Valerie Harms, Uc Rodale Nat Aud Enviro, page 268:
      I would never have guessed […] that slime molds can have thirteen sexes.
  2. (countable) Another category, especially of humans and especially based on sexuality or gender roles.
    • 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
      Still there are some loop-holes out of which a man may creep, and dare to think and act for himself; but for a woman it is an herculean task, because she has difficulties peculiar to her sex to overcome, which require almost super-human powers.
    • 1817, The works of Claudian, tr. into Engl. verse by A. Hawkins, page 43:
      "But now another sex, in arms, is brought, / And, realms to guard, are eunuchs able thought!"
    • 1821, Lord Byron, Don Juan, Canto V, Stanza xxvi, line 148:
      A black old neutral personage
      Of the third sex stept up.
  3. (countable) The members of such a category, taken collectively.
    • 1671, John Milton, Samson Agonistes, 774:
      It was a weakness
      In me, but incident to all our sex.
    • 1780, Jeremy Bentham, Introduction to the Principles of Morals & Legislation, vi, §35:
      The sensibility of the female sex appears […] to be greater than that of the male.
  4. (uncountable) The distinction and relation between these categories, especially in humans; gender.
    • 2005 November 11, Guardian, 18:
      A lot of women now like men to pay for them on dates... We've dealt with the outdated view of sex underpinning this.
  5. (obsolete or literary, uncountable, with "the") Women; the human female sex and those who belong to it.
    • 1789 November 3, Arthur Young, Travels... undertaken with a view of ascertaining the cultivation... of the kingdom of France, i, 220:
      The sex of Venice are undoubtedly of a distinguished beauty.
  6. (uncountable) Sexual activity, usually sexual intercourse unless preceded by a modifier.
    • 1900, H.G. Wells, Love & Mr. Lewisham, xvii, 144:
      We marry in fear and trembling, sex for a home is the woman's traffic, and the man comes to his heart's desire when his heart's desire is dead.
    • 1929, D.H. Lawrence, Pansies, 57:
      If you want to have sex, you've got to trust
      At the core of your heart, the other creature.
    • 1934, translation of the Qur'an (23:5) by Abdullah Yusuf Ali
      (The believers ... those ... ) who abstain from sex
    • 1962 June 7, The Listener, 1006/2:
      Why wasn't Bond ‘more tender’ in his love-making? Why did he just ‘have sex’ and disappear?
    • 1990, House of Cards, Season 1, Episode 3:
      It wouldn't work with you... Sex, I mean. You're... easy to be with. You're... you're not dangerous. You're my best friend, John. I couldn't have it on with my best friend, John. It would be embarrassing. Sorry. Honest.
  7. (countable, euphemism or slang) Genitalia: a penis or vagina.
    • 1664, Thomas Killigrew, Princess, ii, ii:
      Another ha's gon through with the bargain... One that will find the way to her Sex, before you'le come to kissing her hand.
    • 1938, David Gascoyne, Hölderlin's Madness, 18:
      And the black cypresses strained upwards like the sex of a hanged man.
    • 1993, Catherine Coulter, The Heiress Bride, page 354:
      She touched his sex with her hand.
    • 2003 March 2, Daily News of New York, 2:
      And he put in a fake sex (penis) because he wanted to make the scene more real, more rude.
  • (divisions of organisms by reproductive role) gender (sometimes proscribed: see usage note)
  • (copulation) See also Thesaurus:copulation
Related terms Translations Translations Verb

sex (sexes, present participle sexing; past and past participle sexed)

  1. (zoology, transitive) To determine the sex#Noun|sex of an animal.
  2. (chiefly, US, colloquial, intransitive) To have sex#Noun|sex with.
Synonyms Translations
  • French: sexer
  • German: (please verify) das Geschlecht bestimmen attention de, sexen
  • Portuguese: sexar
  • Spanish: sexar
  • German: Sex haben
  • Italian: langname=Italian
  • Portuguese: comer

sex (plural sexes)

  1. (obsolete) Alternative form of sect.

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