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. Dec 3, 2011 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. Dec 3, 2011 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 : goo.gl/1QL73 )
    – leonbloy
    Dec 5, 2011 at 20:29
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    Embarazado could also be used of masculine epicine gender animals e.g. el delfín [hembra] embarazado
    – jacobo
    Apr 15, 2018 at 9:33
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    krazyinfo.com/hombre-embarazado trata de casos de hombres embarazados: "Son hombres en la actualidad, pero nacieron mujeres ..."
    – user19118
    Apr 15, 2018 at 13:07

3 Answers 3


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, 2011 at 10:19
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    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, 2011 at 22:20

It is perfectly grammatical to use embarazado to refer to female (sex) beings with words of masculine (grammatical) gender:

Mi personaje ahora mismo no está embarazado así que debo vigilar de no tocarme la barriga delante de las cámaras. Cuando empiezo a hacerlo, algo que se me escapa sin pensar, el director me señala la barriga y ya sé que tengo que parar”

... en el hoyo hay un ratón embarazado, peludo...

Or non-person/animal objects metaphorically:

Por eso no es de extrañar que de allí nos llegue esta peculiar casa ‘embarazada’... La ‘barriguita’ de este edificio embarazado hizo posible que el salón de 30 m2 pudiese iluminarse con luz natural.

Or literally:

El cuerpo embarazado deviene, tanto para la portadora/dueña (¿cómo deberíamos denominar aquí a la mujer embarazada?) como para los que lo contemplan, un tiempo y espacio fronterizo, un cuerpo liminal donde se funden el ahora y el devenir, lo natural y lo cultural, el yo y el otro.


The difference of grammatical gender (masculine / feminine) does not have a direct relation with the biological sex (male / female). From the answers and reactions that this question has caused, we deduce that there are no "adjectives for women".

I can provide the following word following the initial intention of the question:


De Mari, apóc. de María, y macho.

1. m. coloq. Mujer que en su corpulencia o acciones parece hombre.

Adhering strictly to the definition of the dictionary, this word only applies to women. But, of course, you can invalidate this answer with both grammatical examples and figurative language (for example, ese es un texto muy marimacho).

  • There is a relation between grammatical gender and biological sex. "La mujer" "El hombre" The fact that marimacho is grammatically masculine is clearly a play on the fact that the woman has masculine attributes.
    – TZubiri
    Mar 6, 2020 at 3:06
  • "La Mamá", "El Papá", "el pito", "la vagina", "el musculo", "la cocina"
    – TZubiri
    Mar 6, 2020 at 3:18
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    @TomasZubiri, sorry, but that seems to me to be very debatable, because they are also "el clítoris" and "la polla". It's inevitable that some words that refer to entities that are mostly of one sex, are of the gender that corresponds to sex, such as "padre" or "madre." But there is no relation between the gender of "cocina" and the sex of the cooks. For that reason, the words "hogar", "fogón", "sostén", "útero" and "embarazo" should be feminine, but all are masculine. There is no biologic difference between the grammars of "la olla" and "el caldero", nor between "el monte" and "la montaña".
    – Rodrigo
    Mar 8, 2020 at 19:38

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