I am currently trying to identify nouns whose morphological gender differs from their semantic gender. Here are three examples I could identify so far:

  1. French: Le laideron - masculine morpho-syntactically but refers to "an ugly girl"
  2. German: Das Weib - neuter morpho-syntactically but refers to a woman

  3. Italian: il donnone: masculiine morpho-syntacically but refers to a big woman

  4. Portuguese: Aquele mulherão : masculine morpho-syntactically but refers to a volutptious woman

I do make a difference betweeen these cases and cases of "pragmatic gender" or "world-knowledge" gender. So for instance the french word sentinelle (i.e.basically a funtion in the military) refers to men but only because at the given historical period only men were part of the fighting forces and could occuppy that function. So what I am looking for are nouns like those from above which could be argued to be specified for a given semantic gender.

I would be particularly interested in an example from Spanish but really any language would do. I expect to find cases like the above but none whose grammatical gender ist feminine and whose semantic gender is masculine.

Thanks for your help


  • das Weib might have been a collective noun, said somebody on Ger.SE but nobody really knows. Indeed, das Weibsfolk "women folk" does exist. – vectory Dec 12 '19 at 16:21
  • I'd be more interested in gender as determined by the article not agreeing with the morphosyntactic suffix. – vectory Dec 12 '19 at 16:24
  • What about (say) German diminutives? They're automatically neuter, no matter what gender the root noun has: die Frau, das Fräulein. – jlawler Dec 12 '19 at 16:31
  • @vectory that is interesting. However I am a native speaker of German and I can re-assure you that at least right now weib is not collective – user3201 Dec 12 '19 at 16:38
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    @jlawler I am aware of that, however I would prefer "natural" or lexicalized missmatches.So Mädchen would be where I wuld draw the line because it is a frozen diminuitive. – user3201 Dec 12 '19 at 16:40