Unisex Nouns

French unisex nouns
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Noms à double genre

One of the first – and possibly worst – things French students learn is that all nouns have a gender, either masculine or feminine. The good news is more than 100* can be either – though they may tend toward one gender or the other.

Français English Notes
accore shore prop or beam used as support
achélem public housing see HLM, below
acmé acme, peak
after after party usually masculine
alvéole alveolus, cell usually feminine
amazone Amazon parrot  
ammodyte sand viper  
après-midi
aprèm, aprème
 
afternoon  
apocopes
aréna, arena arena Canadian term
autoroute highway  
avant-guerre pre-war years  
azalée azalea  
     
balane acorn barnacle  
baston fight, punch-up familiar
bilig
billig
crêpe maker appliance
break
breakdance
break dance
break danse
break dancing
butternut butternut squash aka le doubeurre
     
calzone calzone  
carpocapse codling moth
chaintre headland agricultural term
chistéra
chistera
wicker basket in the Basque game pelote
coca coca plant
cola cola nut
country country music
COVID-19 COVID-19 Académie française says it’s feminine, but most native speakers say le COVID-19
     
enzyme enzyme
éphémère ephemera, mayfly  
     
fétuque fescue type of grass
flammekueche tarte flambée Alsatian speciality: white “pizza” with a very thin crust
flashmob flash mob  
folk folk music  
     
goulache
goulasch
goulash
goulash Hungarian speciality: beef stew with paprika
     
happy end happy ending franglais at its finest
harissa harissa North African speciality: spicy red pepper sauce
harmonique harmonic, overtone
HLM
H.L.M.
public housing abbreviation of Habitation à loyer modéré, so feminine is preferred
holding holding company
hymne hymn religious song
     
imago imago imaginal stage of an insect’s metamorphosis
interview interview  
     
jaque jackfruit  
jet-set
jet set
jet set
joint-venture joint venture  
     
kalachnikov Kalachnikov
kola cola nut
     
laccolithe laccolith, laccolite geographical formation
laque lacquer
limule limulus horseshoe crab
livédo
livedo
livedo certain skin discoloration
     
manucure manicure
manzanilla manzanilla very dry white wine, usually feminine
margarita margarita tequila-based cocktail
météorite meterorite
mirepoix mirepoix mixture of celery, onion, and carrots
moufle pulley block
     
nymphée nymphaeum ancient monument
     
oasis oasis usually feminine
ordonnance regulation it’s only unisex for this specific meaning
     
palabre palaver discussion
parka parka
perce-neige snowdrop winter flower
photomaton photo booth  
poiscaille fish informal
poliste paper wasp
pop pop music  
     
quadrille quadrille dancing
quatre-épices allspice
quatre-quatre jeep, 4×4
     
réglisse liquorice
relâche rest
     
salomé T-bar sandal  
schappe waste silk
semi-remorque  semi(-trailer truck), articulated lorry
sex-shop
sexe-shop
sex shop
shot shot alcohol; generally (m) in France, (f) in Canada.
squatine angelfish
statice sea lavender  
stévia stevia natural sweetener
stout stout dark beer
synopsis movie plot outline  
     
tachine tachina fly
tennis tennis shoe
thermos Thermos
     
vérétille veretillum  bioluminescent species
     
zydeco zydeco music  

* According to Le Grand Robert numérique Version 4.1, there are 173 such terms, many of which are very rare, technical, or scientific. For the complete list, use advanced search:

Grand Robert

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Unisex French nouns
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