Definitiongentler sex , womankind; the female gender. Humorous or sexist expression dating back to a time when specific qualities were attributed to each gender.
Synonyms: better sex; contrary sex; deadlier of the species; devout sex; fair sex; fairer sex; gentler sex; softer sex; second sex; shrieker sex; sterner sex; unfair sex; weaker sex.
Quote: Lawrence Paros, The Erotic Tongue (1984): ' 'Sex comes from the Latin secare, "to cut or divide," and we first used the word to designate the two major categories of humanity we have come to know and love as male and female. (...) We later used the word sex not only for dividing the sexes, but to refer to qualities of being male or female. Over time we assigned specific attributes to each category. These distinctions were dutifully recorded in the esteemed OED, making it all very official. The male was described as "the better" and "the sterner" sex; the female, as "the fairer," "the gentler," "the softer," and "the devout" sex. Women were also called "the second" sex. For a period of time between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when people spoke of "the sex," they had women in mind.'
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