"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Saturday, 27 March 2010


Epicene means bisexual; having an ambiguous sexual identity; hermaphrodite; one having both male and female sexual characteristics and organs; at birth an unambiguous assignment of male or female cannot be made.

Epicene is also an adjective for loss of gender distinction, often specific loss of masculinity; effeminate; having unsuitable feminine qualities.

Epicene is also used to describe a noun – such as author or poet - whose single form can designate either a male or a female.

For example – M C Beaton is an excellent author but one cannot tell from that phrase whether M C Beaton is a man or a woman because author is an epicene word.

1 comment:

  1. that's a lot of quite different senses in which to use one word, interesting stuff
    thanks for sharing