The fair sex and the fairer sex are variations of an idiom. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom the fair sex or the fairer sex, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.
The fair sex or the fairer sex means womankind or female humans. The expression came into use in the 1600s as fair maid or fair maiden. In this instance, the word fair means beautiful or good looking. Today, the terms fair sex and fairer sex are being used less and less frequently. Women are no longer judged solely by their looks and it is not appropriate to refer to them in this way, except women with whom you are emotionally close.
Yes, right here, the man who will never be accused of inappropriate behavior around the fair sex. (The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)
Despite her sanctimonious and judgemental attitude towards the fair sex, she has an air of someone who means well. (The Tribune India)
“A lot of persons in Barbados see lifeguards sitting down in a hut and they feel that they are sightseeing and maybe watching the fairer sex, but that it is not the case.” (The Barbados Advocate)
Here are some related idioms we covered: