chair


chair
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:

  • chair — [ ʃɛr ] n. f. • XVe; car 1080; lat. caro, carnis→ carné; acharner I ♦ 1 ♦ Substance molle du corps de l homme ou des animaux, essentiellement constituée des tissus musculaire et conjonctif (opposé à squelette). La chair et les os. Os dépouillés… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • chair — 1. (chêr) s. f. 1°   Toutes les parties molles du corps de l homme et des animaux, et plus particulièrement la partie rouge des muscles. Recevoir une blessure dans les chairs. •   Mais je n ai plus trouvé qu un horrible mélange D os et de chairs… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • chair — CHAIR. s. fém. Substance molle et sanguine, qui est entre la peau et les os de l animal. Chair vive, chair morte, chair ferme. Avoir un coup d épée dans les chairs. Avoir la chair bonne. On guérit aisément les blessures qui ne sont que dans les… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • chair — CHAIR. s. f. Substance molle & sanguine qui est entre la peau & les os de l animal. Chair vive. chair morte. chair ferme. il a un coup d espée dans les chairs. il a la chair bonne, on guerit aisément ses blessures. il a la chair mauvaise, il est… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • chair — Chair, Caro, Ce que communéement disons Chair, Les Hebrieux dient Scheer. Parquoy semble que nous ayons laissé la premiere lettre, et nous soyons accoustumez à prononcer Cheer. Tous vendans chair cuite, Omnes popinarum institores, B. ex Seneca.… …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • Chair — (ch[^a]r), n. [OE. chaiere, chaere, OF. chaiere, chaere, F. chaire pulpit, fr. L. cathedra chair, armchair, a teacher s or professor s chair, Gr. ? down + ? seat, ? to sit, akin to E. sit. See {Sit}, and cf. {Cathedral}, {chaise}.] [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • chair — [cher] n. [ME & OFr chaire < L cathedra: see CATHEDRA] 1. a piece of furniture for one person to sit on, having a back and, usually, four legs 2. a seat of authority or dignity 3. the position of a player in an instrumental section of a… …   English World dictionary

  • chair — ► NOUN 1) a separate seat for one person, with a back and four legs. 2) the person in charge of a meeting or an organization. 3) a professorship. 4) (the chair) US short for ELECTRIC CHAIR(Cf. ↑electric chair). ► …   English terms dictionary

  • Chair — Chair, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Chaired}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Chairing}.] 1. To place in a chair. [1913 Webster] 2. To carry publicly in a chair in triumph. [Eng.] [1913 Webster] 3. To function as chairperson of (a meeting, committee, etc.); as, he… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • chair — chair; chair·man·ship; chair·o·plane; chair·man; …   English syllables

  • chair — [n1] single seat furniture armchair, bench, cathedra, recliner, rocker, sling*; concept 443 chair [n2] person in or position of authority captain, chairperson, director, fellowship, helm, instructorship, leader, monitor, position of control,… …   New thesaurus