Spanish, Portuguese and French words that changed gender from Latin


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A great advantage of being a native speaker of a Romance language is that the gender (masculine or feminine) is the same in over 99% of cases in other Romance languages, which makes learning them much easier than for speakers of non-Romance languages (and English, which is half-Romance but lost all gender in nouns and adjectives). I have tried to find the rare exceptions in which a word changed gender in one language from its Latin root. I couldn't find any in Italian.

Spanish is apparently the language that has the most "transgender" nouns. I have found nine of them, including five that have also changed in Portuguese. Note that Latin also has a neuter gender not found in modern Romance languages. In the following cases the neuter became masculine in Italian, French and in 2 out of 3 cases also Portuguese.

computus (m)le compteil contola cuantaa conta
curia (f)la courla curiael cortea corte
dubium (n)le douteil dubitola dudaa dúvida
lac, lactis (n)le laitil lattela lecheo leite
mappa (f)la mappe(monde)la mappael mapao mapa
sal (m)le selil salela salo sal
sanguis (m)le sangil sanguela sangreo sangue
signum (n)le signalil segnalela señalo sinal
valles, vallis (f)la valléela valleel valleo vale

Here are the transgender words I could find in French. One of them, courant, does not exist in Latin and is in fact the present participle of the verb courir. So it's an exception within the exceptions (very French when you think of it).

Another word that became feminine is la mer (the sea). In this case I am pretty sure it was to avoid confusion with its homophone le maire (the mayor).

-le courantla correntela corrientea corrente
mare (n)la meril mareel maro mar

French words in -eur

Many words ending in -eur such as couleur, faveur, ferveur and valeur were originally masculine in Latin (ending in -or) but became feminine after the change of sound from -or to -eur. There are two reason for that.

First, some Latin words ending in -ora, which are feminine, also evolved into an -eur ending in French (e.g. fleur).

Then, nouns derived from adjectives such as grandeur, largeur, longueur, hauteur, profondeur, douceur, etc. are all feminine and are all medieval construct not found in Latin. The ending tends to vary in other Romance languages, but in Italian it is often -ezza (grandezza, larghezza, lunghezza, altezza, dolcezza) or occasionally in -ità (profondità), which are both feminine. So it makes sense that these French words in -eur all became feminine for the sake of consistency.

Note, however, that it does not include words ending in -teur or -seur, which denote an occupation (acteur, chanteur, directeur, docteur, sénateur, professeur, etc.) or an object with a specific purpose/function/job (ordinateur, téléviseur), which all remained masculine. Occupational words have a feminine form derived from the Latin suffix -trix, which in French became either -trice (e.g. actrice), -toresse (e.g. doctoresse), or from the Latin -tora, which became -teuse (e.g. chanteuse). In this case it is inevitable that words describing people should be masculine for men and feminine for women.
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