the token single woman

< Previous | Next >


Senior Member
Sweden Swedish

I'm having trouble understanding the word "token" in this context. A woman at a supper party declares she hates these.

"Especially when you're invited as the token single woman. But X is my closest friend, so I make an exception for her."

Thanks in advance,

  • Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    If you want a range of types at your smart dinner parties you will invite a single man and a single woman as well as someone from another ethnic or racial group. You will also make sure that not everybody is heterosexual. The idea is to show how liberal you are, I think, so these guests are known as 'tokens', or signals, of your liberal inclusive attitudes.


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'Token' is for someone who is chosen so that people can say there is one. A company board might be all-male or all-white, except for one female or one black member; they can then say they're not all-male/all-white because they have other people too. It's regarded as a negative thing, not really doing it.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    "Token"(adj.) <noun> - the <noun> that is there only because convention/morality/political correctness/the law requires that there be a <noun> there, and for no other reason.

    A: "Why did you employ John, he's useless and has only got one arm."
    B: "We have 20 employees and the law requires any company with more than 19 employees to employ someone who is disabled - John is our token cripple."
    < Previous | Next >