Unintentionally gender specific terms (e.g. buddy, kid, etc.


Senior Member
What are your thoughts on the gender specificity of words like 'buddy' and 'kid'? These terms by definition are not gender specific to males, yet I've never/very seldom heard either of them used in reference to a female. To me, a 'kid' (singular; plural seems to be a different story) is a male child. If you say "look at that kid", there is no ambiguity to me. If I do 'look', I'm not planning on seeing a girl. A female child is a girl.

Similarly, if I'm going out to the mall with a 'buddy of mine', I'm going to the mall with a male friend of mine. If I'm going with a 'friend of mine', it could be a male or female.

Is this specificity a standard thing among other English speakers, or is it just an idiolectical/possibly regional linguistic phenomenon?
  • cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    "Well Toadie," he said, sitting in his rocking chair, "in my day it was perfectly natural for a man to call a young ladie 'kid', and to add a few other endearments to the string of hogwash he was trying to sell her".

    It may be an age difference, but I have both male and female buddies.

    For whatever it may be worth, I'm a native AE speaker.


    Senior Member
    Interesting, Cuchuflete... I noticed this last night when I was leaving one of my best friends (a girl) and I said "see ya later buddy". About five minutes later I actually thought about what it said and I was extremely surprised at myself for saying it.

    Any other input?


    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    'Kid' can definitely be used for either boys or girls for me. 'Buddy' I just wouldn't use full stop... The usual equivalent for 'buddy' here would be 'mate'. Mate does have a bit of a ring of being a man about it I suppose, but I would use it for men or women.
    I think "buddy" is a bit like "soldier." By itself, the word conjures up a male image for most people, but it's not odd or unusual to use it in reference to a woman. I do think it's much more common to describe male friends as "buddies" than to describe female friends as such.

    A kid can be a child of either sex.


    Senior Member
    English English
    As in NZ, in the UK we just don't use the term buddy. (Instead we have the teeth-grindingly ubiquitous mate. That's another story.)
    But I see what you mean about kid, Toadie, that it somehow doesn't feel quite right to refer to a young girl as that.

    And yet ...
    She's a good kid or She's just a kid
    sound okay:confused:

    (I dare say Mr.Flete will remember this famous use of kid
    Rick: Here's looking at you, kid.
    Ilsa: [smiles] I wish I didn't love you so much.
    ~Casablanca, 1942)
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    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Fitting comfortably into the GWB-Cuchuflete age range, I find nothing gender-specific about "kid" or "buddy". I don't use buddy in direct address (i.e. I don't say "Hi, buddy!"), but I certainly use it in phrases like "dieting buddy" or "lacemaking buddy" and I could be referring to a man or a woman. If someone asked me to "look at that kid over there", I would expect to see a child, but have no expectation that it would be a boy or a girl. (I mean, I would expect it to be one or the other, but not either one in particular...)

    I speak American English, like both of the authorities cited in my first sentence.

    EDIT: In old Citizen's Band (CB) radio or trucker slang, "good buddy" always seems to be direct address to a male, in my (limited) experience.


    Senior Member
    As far as the 'dieting-, lacemaking buddy, etc.' goes, that seems to be different and I would agree that it those expressions are gender neutral. There seems to be one (much more obscene) version that I know of that is often a reference to girls as well as possibly guys.


    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    This thread is on a different subject from the one you raise, in fact it goes back to those slack days when conversations were allowed to go on off-topic tangents. But post #57 does address your topic, I think, and it elaborates some on some recent (to me) language fads using kid and kiddo and, yes, applying them to females.
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