Male is an adjective used to describe organisms, particularly animals and plants, that belong to or are characterized as the sex that typically possesses reproductive organs responsible for producing spermatozoa. In the context of humans, male refers to individuals who possess an XY chromosomal pattern, leading to the development of sexual and reproductive characteristics such as testes, penis, and facial hair during puberty. The male reproductive system includes structures like the testicles, vas deferens, prostate gland, and seminal vesicles, among others.
Additionally, male can also refer to characteristics or traits typically associated with or culturally deemed appropriate for men or boys. These may include physical attributes such as increased muscle mass, a deeper voice, or a more pronounced Adam's apple. Socially, males have historically been perceived as embodying traits such as strength, aggression, or assertiveness, although these stereotypes are subject to cultural and individual variation.
The term male is also utilized as a noun to denote a person who identifies as or is born with male sex characteristics. It is often used as a gender indicator alongside the term female, in order to differentiate between the two primary sexes. The concept of male, like any gender identifier, exists on a spectrum, with some individuals identifying as male, others as female, and some experiencing a non-binary or gender-fluid identity.
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The word "male" originated from the Latin word "masculus", which is derived from "mas", meaning "male" or "man". In turn, "mas" is believed to have roots in the Proto-Indo-European word "mrtos", suggesting "man". The term "male" eventually made its way into Old French as "masle", which further evolved into Middle English and became "male" as we know it today.