Languages › Spanish Spanish Nouns With Two Genders Gender changes meaning of a few dozen words Share Flipboard Email Print Una cometa. (A kite.). Karen Blaha / Creative Commons. Spanish Grammar History & Culture Pronunciation Vocabulary Writing Skills By Gerald Erichsen Spanish Language Expert B.A., Seattle Pacific University Gerald Erichsen is a Spanish language expert who has created Spanish lessons for ThoughtCo since 1998. our editorial process Gerald Erichsen Updated June 05, 2019 Nearly all nouns in Spanish are always masculine or always feminine. But there are a few nouns that can be of either gender. In most cases, those are the nouns describing what people do for a living, and the gender varies with the person the word stands for. Thus, for example, el dentista refers to a male dentist, while la dentista refers to a female dentist. Un artista is a male artist, while una artista is a female artist. Most of the occupational words that follow this pattern end in -ista. One common exception is atleta: un atleta is a male athlete, while una atleta is a female athlete. When Gender Affects Meaning But there are a few nouns where the matter of gender is more complicated. Those are the nouns whose meanings vary depending on the gender of articles or adjectives used with them. Here is a list of the most common such words; only the basic or most usual meanings are included here. batería: el batería = male drummer; la batería = battery, female drummerbusca: el busca = pager (electronic device); la busca = searchcabeza: el cabeza = male in charge; la cabeza = head (body part), female in chargecalavera: el calavera = excessively hedonistic man; la calavera = skullcapital: el capital = investment; la capital = capital city, capital lettercircular: el circular = pie chart; la circular = circular (printed notice)cólera: el cólera = cholera; la cólera = angercoma: el coma = coma; la coma = commacometa: el cometa = comet; la cometa = kiteconsonante: el consonante = rhyme; la consonante = consonantcontra: el contra = drawback or organ pedal; la contra = opposing attitude or an antidotecorte: el corte = cut, blade; la corte = court (law)cura: el cura = Catholic priest; la cura = curedelta: el delta = delta (of a river); la delta = delta (Greek letter)doblez: el doblez = fold, crease; la doblez = double dealingeditorial: el editorial = editorial (opinion article); la editorial = publishing businessescucha: el escucha = male sentry or guard; la escucha = female sentry or guard, the act of listeningfinal: el final = end; la final = championship game in a tournamentfrente: el frente = front; la frente = foreheadguardia: el guardia = policeman; la guardia = protection, custody, guard, police force, policewomanguía: el guía = male guide; la guía = guidebook, female guidehaz: el haz = bundle or light beam; la haz = face or surface (La haz is an exception to the rule about using el with feminine nouns beginning with a stressed a sound.)mañana: el mañana = future; la mañana = morningmargen: el margen = margin; la margen = bank (as of a river)moral: el moral = blackberry bush; la moral = morale, moralityorden: el orden = order (opposite of chaos); la orden = religious orderordenanza: el ordenanza = order (opposite of chaos); la ordenanza = orderlypapa: el papa = pope; la papa = potatoparte: el parte = document; la parte = portionpendiente: el pendiente = earring; la pendiente = slopepez: el pez = fish; la pez = tar or pitchpolicía: el policía = policeman; la policía = police force, policewomanradio: el radio = radius, radium; la radio = radio (In some areas, radio is masculine in all uses.)tema: el tema = subject; la tema = obsession (traditionally feminine for this meaning, although in modern usage tema is usually masculine for all uses)terminal: el terminal = electrical terminal; la terminal = shipping terminaltrompeta: el trompeta = male trumpeter; la trompeta = trumpet, female trumpetervista: el vista = male customs officer; la vista = view, female customs officervocal: el vocal = male committee member; la vocal = vowel, female committee member Why Some Nouns Have Two Genders The reasons some of the nouns in this list have two genders is lost in history, but in a few cases the dual gender is a matter of etymology: The masculine noun and feminine are separate words that only coincidentally have the same sound and spelling, making them homographs. Among the homograph pairs on this list are: El papa comes from Latin, which is common for words related to Catholicism, but la papa comes from Quechua, an indigenous South America language.Both el haz and la haz come from Latin. The former comes from fascis, the latter from facies.El coma comes from a Greek word referring to a deep sleep. While la coma has Greek origins, it came directly to Spanish from Latin.El pez comes from the Latin piscis, while la pez comes from the Latin pix or picis.