30 Everyday Gender-Neutral Terms to Use

Gender-neutral terms are nothing new, but people don’t always think to use them. These terms, also called gender-inclusive, remove the sexism or gender indications from words that don’t need to be gender-specific. You may already use some of these gender-inclusive words on a regular basis. 

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Gender-Neutral Terms to Use With Friends and Family

From terms of endearment to words for family members and friends, you can replace gender-specific words with gender-neutral options pretty easily. 

Gendered Term

Gender-Neutral Term

aunt or uncle

pibling (stands for “parent’s sibling)

boyfriend/husband or girlfriend/wife

partner or significant other

dude or buddy

friend

fiancée/fiancé

betrothed

granddaughter or grandson

grandchild

grandma or grandpa

grandparent

husband or wife

spouse

mother or father

parent

niece or nephew

nibling, chibling, or sibkid (sibling’s kid)

sister or brother

sibling

son or daughter

child or progeny

Gender-Neutral Terms for the Workplace

The workplace can be a particularly tricky place to address gender-specific terminology. Any term that includes “man” or “woman” at the end can often have this part changed to “person” to make it gender-neutral. 

Gendered Term

Gender-Neutral Term

businessman or businesswoman

business person

chairman or chairwoman

chairperson

crewman

crewperson

foreman

foreperson

layman

layperson

mailman

mail carrier or postal worker

manned

crewed

Mr. or Mrs.

Mx (pronounced “mix”)

policeman

police officer

waiter or waitress

server or table attendant

General Gender-Neutral Terms You Can Start Using Every Day

You can also be respectful of the different types of people you might encounter on any given day by replacing some common gendered terms with gender-neutral options. 

Gendered Term

Gender-Neutral Term

freshman

first-year student

girl or boy

young person, kid, or teen

handsome or beautiful

attractive or good-looking

hero or heroine

heroix

human

person or being

mankind

humankind or people

man-made

synthetic or machine-made

upperclassmen

upper-level student

woman or man

adult

Gender-Neutral Nuances

Using gender neutral terms is becoming the accepted way to make all people feel recognized and respected. At the moment, there aren’t universally accepted standards for gender-neutral words, so the best way to know what to say to a specific person is to ask. Explore what sexist language is and how it can impact the lives of people you care about. Then, you can learn more ways to speak with inclusivity by understanding how to use they/them for a singular person.

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