When Did 'Actress' Become A Dirty Word?

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Bert45 | 19:49 Thu 10th Jun 2021 | Phrases & Sayings
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It seems to me that, for a few years now, women in the acting profession have been referred to as 'actors'. Why? With some jobs we have one word for men and women -- nurse, doctor, lawyer, barrister, professor, athlete -- the list goes on. But when we have the perfectly good word 'actress' why avoid it? the Academy Awards still have categories for the best actress and the best supporting actress. Is it anything to do with Political Correctness?


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Was it when the actress met the bishop?
10:48 Fri 11th Jun 2021
Choice, and has been for a while.
I'm sure it wont be long before there will just be just best actor category open to male and female or any other variation of the above yet to be invented.
dunno. you still often hear the word "male" in front of nurse though
As you say, there is a gender neutral word for most jobs. Why should female actors have to have specific word?
You never hear of an authoress nowadays either
I think WPC isn't used any more.
Question Author
I had "The New First Aid in English" by Angus Maciver at school. The one I have in front of me is dated 1978 (long after I left school). It has a list of 78 words that indicate the male sex with 78 corresponding words that indicate the female sex. These include conductor and conductress, host and hostess, earl and countess, nephew and niece, poet and poetess, king and queen, proprietor and proprietrix. We could substitute 'monarch' for king and queen, but do we need to lose the feminine forms of so many words? And why lose the feminine form every time? If we can say "She is an actor" why could we not say "He is a princess"? How about coster and donah, sloven and slut? In the animal section he gives hound and brach, hold and jill (ferrets).
You say in your OP that actress has become a dirty word, I doubt that is the reality, it is just slipping out of favour - I doubt that if you called someone an actress to their face that they would hit you with their handbag.

I don't see it as anything to be overly concerned about.
yup choice and has been a while
Glenda jackson calls herself an actress and she has been around since the 70s
George Segal - Touch of Class
dont lose sleep over this
word shift their meanings

mea domina ( my leddy ) came down to Madam two thousand years later ( English and Fernch ) whereas Domine was diverted to priests ( dominy - scotland and Dom for a benedictine monk) - and Sieur - sire replaced it, become Mon-sewer and Sir,

even in New Testament times - Pais - my son was transferred to slaves ( and doulos dropped out)
and children became not paides but tekna

yeah you knew I was gonna drag greek into this
wivva diversion froo Norman French and a bidda latin

is it anyfing to do wiv Political Correctness?
No I think it is more a late after effect of brexit with a thin veneer of covid and a touch of vaccine hesistancy

'I was working as a waiter in a cocktail bar' wouldn't of sounded quite right in the song.
I don't think it has become a dirty word.....but where there is no reason to indicate gender then why bother? It comes down to usage.
PP Doula is back in some circles, used for a person who supports a woman through birth and in the first few weeks afterwards....the male version is called a doula too.
Question Author
I really didn't mean 'dirty' when I suggested that 'actress' has become a dirty word. Not in the sense that '***' is a dirty word, certainly. I just meant a word to be avoided, a word that seems unacceptable in polite society. It just seems to me that 'actress' was a perfectly good word and why lose it? If I hear somebody refer to an actor, I think of a man. To say that Judi Dench is an actor, to me, is like saying that she's a man. No doubt it's an age thing. If I had been born 10 years ago I would have known nothing else and 'actor' would be a sexless term.
P.S. May I plead with bobbinwales not to use "wouldn't of"
Was it when the actress met the bishop?
No, it is not political correctness but lazy use of language, the correct noun is not used. You hear it creeping in more on the radio, it is annoying .
Question Author
"No, it is not political correctness but lazy use of language, the correct noun is not used. You hear it creeping in more on the radio, it is annoying." I agree that it is annoying – that's really why I asked the question – but I can't say that it's lazy to say 'actor' instead of 'actress'. It would require a great deal of effort on my part to remember to say 'actor' when I naturally say 'actress'.
Bert, don't worry about it. Carry on using the names you have always used, it's not worth the hassle.
Exactly, you carry on using the words you are comfortable with - doubt anyone will bother a jot.
If you ever meet a woman actor and call her an actress and she objects, then you will need to do something but until then I doubt anmyone will notice.

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