chairman

chairman, chairwoman, chairperson, chair
The term chairman, which combines connotations of power with grammatical gender bias, has been a keyword in feminist sensitivities about language. Chairwoman dates from the 17c, but (as the OED notes) it was hardly a recognized name until the 19c, and even then it did not solve the problem of how to refer neutrally to a chairman/chairwoman when the gender was unknown or irrelevant. Two gender-neutral alternatives emerged in the 20c: chairperson and chair, both first attested in the 1970s, although chair was already in use to mean ‘the authority invested in a chairman’:

• I was recently challenged for using ‘chairman’ to describe my position. My accuser went on to assert that I was being insensitive to the work of the Equal Opportunities Commission by not using ‘chairwoman’, ‘chairperson’, or ‘chair’. —Ann Scully, Times, 1988.

Chair seems to be more popular than chairperson, partly because it seems less contrived and partly because it is more malleable in meaning, whereas chairperson requires the impossibly cumbersome derivative chairpersonship. Although it could once be claimed that chairperson tended to be used as an alternative for chairwoman rather than for chairman or chairwoman (that is to say, that a chairperson was usually a woman) this is increasingly less the case as usage evens out. See also -person.

Modern English usage. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Chairman — of the Board redirects here. For other meanings, see Chairman of the Board (disambiguation). For the car produced by SsangYong, see SsangYong Chairman. For the Convenor of Crossbench Peers in the House of Lords, see Crossbencher#Convenor. The… …   Wikipedia

  • chairman — chair‧man [ˈtʆeəmən ǁ ˈtʆer ] noun chairmen PLURALFORM [ mən] [countable] 1. someone, especially a man, who is in charge of a meeting or who directs the work of a committee or organization; = CHAIR: • The chairman then declared the meeting closed …   Financial and business terms

  • chairman — I noun chair, conductor, director, head, headman, key man, leader, master of ceremonies, moderator, monitor, overseer, person in authority, presider, presiding officer, principal, qui conventui praeest, speaker, supervisor, symposiarch associated …   Law dictionary

  • chairman — ● chairman, chairmen nom masculin (anglais chairman, de chair, chaise, et man, homme) Président du conseil d administration dans les sociétés des pays anglo saxons. Aux États Unis, professeur d université dirigeant un département. ⇒CHAIRMAN,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • chairman — CÉRMEN/ s. m. preşedinte (al unei şedinţe). (< engl. chairman) Trimis de raduborza, 15.09.2007. Sursa: MDN …   Dicționar Român

  • chairman — [cher′mən] n. pl. chairmen [cher′mən] 1. a person who presides at a meeting or heads a committee, board, etc. 2. a man whose work is to carry or wheel people in a chair vt. chairmaned or chairmanned, chairmaning or chairmanning to preside over as …   English World dictionary

  • Chairman — Chair man, n.; pl. {Chairmen}. 1. The presiding officer of a committee, or of a public or private meeting, or of any organized body. [1913 Webster] 2. One whose business it is to cary a chair or sedan. [1913 Webster] Breaks watchmen s heads and… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • chairman — (n.) 1650s, occupier of a chair of authority, from CHAIR (Cf. chair) (n.) + MAN (Cf. man) (n.). Meaning member of a corporate body chosen to preside at meetings is from c.1730. Chairwoman first attested 1690s; CHAIRPERSON (Cf. chairperson) 1971 …   Etymology dictionary

  • chairman — /ˈtʃɛrmen, ingl. ˈtʃɛəmən/ [vc. ingl., comp. di chair «sedia, cattedra» e man «uomo»] s. m. inv. presidente, capo (est.), boss (gerg.) …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • chairman — (or chairwoman) ► NOUN ▪ a person in charge of a meeting or organization …   English terms dictionary

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