Learn English – Sun and moon: male or female


In other languages, the sun and the moon have definite genders: in French and many other romanic languages le soleil (the sun) is male and la lune (the moon) is female. In German and other germanic languages die Sonne is female and der Mond is male.

What is the `poetic' gender of the sun and the moon in English?

I found a number of threads on yahoo answers (great…), where it is claimed the sun is male and the moon is female in English, for example here.

In addition to trustworthy references, I would appreciate answers with examples from children's literature, fairy tales, fables or poems.

Best Answer

As already pointed out by Peter Shor, The Walrus and the Carpenter, which might exemplify children's literature (including, of course, the child inside everyone of us), has genders for the sun and the moon as quoted by yourself.

Etymonline, if you count it as trustworthy, confirms the Germanic genders for the sun (feminine) and the moon (masculine) in Old English.

The flip of genders for these two (or rather, the loss of genders and the establishing of a so-called poetical gender) came later, as claimed here. Quote:

The modern English poetic usage when personifying the sun and moon has taken up the French or Romance gender for sol (masculine) and luna (feminine), instead of retaining the Germanic grammatical genders where the sun is feminine and the moon masculine.

(Ragnhild Ljosland, Masculine and Feminine in Dialect)

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