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In most if not all Spanish dictionaries I've checked, embarazada is only ever listed in its feminine form unlike all other adjectives I can think of.

Is this semantic because it's considered that males can't be pregnant, or is it a real lexical property of the word? Are there other words with this property? I don't think I've checked as many dictionaries for preñada and encinta.

(I know these three words are listed in Wiktionary in their masculine form, but I was at least partly responsible for that and it was based on hunting down a few masculine forms rather than following any canonical reference.)

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Did you check the DRAE for embarazado? The DRAE recognizes embarazado. In fact, it has become more and more commom (at least here in Colombia) to use "estamos embarazados" ("we are pregnant") whenever a couple is expecting a baby, and this phrase will be used for either one, the man or the woman. – Gonzalo Medina Dec 3 '11 at 14:48
Oh you're right! I wonder which edition of the DRAE this began? I was silly enough not to check it but went from my memory of looking in other dictionaries which I don't have available now. I do have my Larousse Gran Diccionario CD ROM though and it does only list the feminine forms. – hippietrail Dec 3 '11 at 14:56
BTW: "embarazado/a" is also used as participle (and hence can function as an adjective, feminine or masculine) of "embarazar" (to restrict, to make difficult or awkard). Actually, the word "embarazada" (in its more common aception of today) originates on that aception, sort of an euphemism. But one can well say today "Juan se sintió embarazado" (google : ) – leonbloy Dec 5 '11 at 20:29
@leonbloy: There is no English word "aception". You probably mean "sense" or "meaning". It seems stranger and stranger that so many dictionaries only list this word in the feminine! – hippietrail Dec 5 '11 at 20:55
Only barely on topic, but the subject of adjectives which only really work as masculine or feminine brings to mind Ya no te amo, Raúl. – Peter Taylor Dec 5 '11 at 22:48
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I wouldn't say that those words are exceptional; they're following the rules, but they also follow reality. If a man really did get pregnant (like in a certain movie), you'd just use embarazado (or preñado or encinto) and, while it'd catch people's attention, they'd follow you from the context.

Some words only apply to one gender. You wouldn't call a woman virile in English (generally speaking), but the word virile doesn't have any lexical property that establishes this. Rather, it's simply usage and context that dictate the form.

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As a curiosity "preñado" (preñao) is used in "Bollo preñao" a typicall recipe from Asturias. It's a loaf of bread cooked with a chorizo inside. – Laura Dec 3 '11 at 10:19
That's interesting! I guess in figurative usage it can also be masculine if the noun for the inanimate object is masculine, which supports what I said. – Kevin K. Dec 3 '11 at 22:20

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