I Am Not an Authoress!!!!

Recently, someone called me an authoress, and I could feel the word grate up and down my spine. What an atrocious word to use today! It’s even worse than co-ed, a despicably sexist and patronizing term. (Coed is short for coeducational and refers to the women who were allowed into previously all male colleges and universities. Perhaps it had meaning back in the nineteen-thirties, but its use today is demeaning. It says men are educated, and women are co-educated. Like a pilot and co-pilot. So please, do not use co-ed. Student is sufficient, or woman student if you have to differentiate.)

Authoress is an old term and was used as early as 1485. It grew in popularity until the mid 1800’s and found it’s nadir in 1998. Now “authoress” is on the rise again. Why? Not only is it old fashioned, of use only in historical dramas or other historical contexts, it is ugly and demeaning and redundant since “author” includes both males and females. According to the free dictionary, author means a) The writer of a book, article, or other text. B) One who practices writing as a profession.

If I had to describe myself as an “authoress,” I would never admit that I am a published writer. I even refuse to accept a friend request on Facebook from anyone who uses “authoress” as a title before or after her user name. Of course, I don’t friend anyone who uses “author” as a title either because I have doubts about their sincerity in wanting to be a friend.

If I need to describe my writing self, I tell people I’ve written books. I give them my card to show them what books I have written. Sometimes I even tell them I am a writer. Even though I tend to believe that an author is one who makes a living at writing and I have not yet achieved that status, I have even called myself an author once or twice.

But authoress? Never!

Use of "Authoress"

Use of “Authoress”


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

9 Responses to “I Am Not an Authoress!!!!”

  1. Joy Collins Says:

    WT? How demeaning. Just another way to make women “less than”.

  2. amt07 Says:

    Ewww some people. Interesting read new vocabulary word to avoid.

  3. rami ungar the writer Says:

    If someone’s using the term authoress, it might have something to do with Downton Abbey. That show’s bringing back all sorts of things that should’ve stayed dead.

  4. mikesteeden Says:

    Interesting point and one I agree with! Thinking about it I have never used the word ‘authoress’ and I am on the cusp of being ancient.

  5. Kathy Says:

    I’ve never heard of “authoress” – good grief – that is annoying! You also make a good point about the word “author” – it sounds pretentious, although it is how I describe myself on my blog. Writer sounds too less than – author sounds like too much. Maybe I’ll change it to “Kathy Holmes” because it is about me and my life journey, of which writing is just a part. I could mention the word “writing” in the subtitle. Thanks!

    • Kathy Says:

      I’ve been thinking about the word “author” and how it’s used in the tech writing world. Interesting that I’m a writer when writing technical documents but as soon as I create a help system, I’m an author. 🙂

      • Pat Bertram Says:

        According to the free dictionary, The use of author as a verb in computer-related contexts is well established and unexceptionable.

        I do use the word “author” in promos when I say “I am the author of the suspense novels such and such,” which is different that saying “I am an author”.

  6. Juliet Waldron Says:

    Grrrrrrr…no pats on the head, please. I am WRITER, hear me roar. 🙂

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