Learn English – Is “host” gender specific


Is there anything that implies that a "host" (noun- e.g. host of an event) is a male? Is there anything preventing a female from being host (as opposed to a hostess)?

In context: An organization holds a weekly event. One of several representatives from the organization hosts each event, and both genders are in the group of potential hosts. Thus, is it sufficient to say "please contact your host…" or would this be inappropriate considering some of the representatives are female?

Best Answer

The answer to this may well be dependent on the local culture.

In the UK, I certainly would not assume that a host is male.

Moreover, if using the word hostess, I would perhaps be careful of context for the reasons apparent from the definitions in Chambers Dictionary:

hostess noun
1. a female host.
2. a woman employed as a man's companion for the evening at a night club, dance hall, etc.
3. euphemistic a prostitute.
4. an air hostess.

Thus, some female hosts may well prefer not to be referred to as a hostess.

Additionally, the first definition given for host is:

host noun
1. someone who entertains guests or strangers in his or her own home.
(emphasis added)

Thus confirming that host is an appropriate term irrespective of gender.