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Open Dictionary word of the week: gender reveal

We are constantly monitoring the language to ensure that we keep an up-to-date record.  You can be a part of this enterprise by suggesting a word for our Open Dictionary. Every Thursday Laine Redpath-Cole picks a new entry and goes on about it for a bit. This week’s word is:

gender reveal (noun)

the practice of revealing the sex of your unborn child to friends and family, often at a party with a cake that is coloured pink or blue inside

The first video of a gender-reveal party was posted on YouTube in 2008.| My favorite gender reveal idea is this.|The culmination of the party is the cutting of the Gender Reveal cake by the expectant couple.

(Submitted from the United Kingdom)

At first I thought this was something that came out of the Caster Semenye debacle, but that’s gender verification.

As far as gender reveal is concerned, it just goes to show that for those who believe it is possible to have your cake and eat it, you’re truly on the right planet at the right time. The main issue with finding out the gender of your child before it’s born seems to be that it ruins the ‘surprise element’. By ruining the surprise element for yourself and all your circle, you take away something from the content of the communication immediately following a birth: ‘It’s a boy!’ or ‘It’s a girl!’; ‘OMG I can’t believe it, it’s a wee baby girl!’, ‘It’s a strapping young lad!’

We try to replace that element with a similar sort of excitement about ‘the name’. ‘We’re not going to tell you the name, it’s a surprise!’ Argh. Anyway, so there is a missing element of surprise and excitement and, therefore, attention for the new parents (babies don’t need to do anything for attention, you just can’t help it). In order to catch this missing element some fabulously go-getting Americans have come up with the idea of  ‘gender reveal’ parties. I’m finding it impossible to heave myself into describing all the sordid details of what a gender reveal party is here. This article covers it very well, I think. Basically: you can’t wait to find out – there’s a room to be decorated and paraphernalia to be bought – but you still want all the excitement of the reveal moment.

So, hey, the gender reveal party is a solution to a modern-day problem and who am I to pooh-pooh it? In fact, next time I’m pregnant I’m going to have many cakes and eat them all: I’ll have a fertility party (you know: we’re fertile, bring gifts!) then a fetus party (who can spot the human in this scan? Yay, bring gifts!), a gender reveal party (It’s a pink sort! Cry with joy and bring gifts!), a baby shower (bring gifts!) and a welcome party (meet us at the hospital, bring gifts… and champagne!). What do you think? Am I being too grumpy?

I guess what is more of interest to us on this blog is the choice of the name for the party, gender reveal. It’s horribly clinical. Imagine seeing it on an invite? Surely something cuter is available.

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Laine Redpath Cole


  • Not to be mixed up with gendercide!
    I thought and wondered whether you had come across that in your musings?
    Maybe a gender reveal could be one including pin- the-tail on- the- fetus game blindfolds et al, as a prelim to the reveal!

  • I really hope I don’t ever get invited to one of these! Yes, it does sound rather clinical at worst, and at best it reminds me of that moment in ‘Tootsie’ when Dustin Hoffman dramatically pulls off his wig and reveals his true identity. I would have to snicker, either way. But what I would find particularly difficult is the surprise element of this whole nonsense. It’s either a boy or a girl, right? That’s the extent of the excitement. The surprise is, yes, it’s one of two possibilities. And whichever way the surprise goes, I’m supposed to be thrilled to bits and squeal a lot. No, it’s not for me.

  • Mein Gott! What ever happen to just being born? The ideal of being the subject of a gender reveal party is to my point of view disgusting. Good God, I’m naked. Or even better, why don’t I just buy a raincoat and surprise them.

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