A made up word, along the same vein as "actress". Given that the standard form "author" is gender neutral - as indeed is actor - it is an unnecessary addition to a language where gender is not meant to be an issue.

Many words in the English language are indeed gender specific, these tend to have an "er" ending, such as "waiter" and are feminised by substituting "ess", following the French pattern.

It is unfortunate that oversensitivity can lead to misapplication of this extension, as in cases where the "or" ending of a non gender specific sounds a little like the aforesaid "er" word ending.

A female actor insisting on being referred to as such would actually deserve respect for her understanding of the English language if nothing else. Scorn would hardly be appropriate.

From the evidence of Webster 1913 below one can surely glean that if the word in question was indeed made up, it was not done recently. In his preface to the postumously published Persuasion, Jane Austen's nephew himself refers to her as an authoress, which bears further evidence to the fact that the word was still in common use in the first half of the 19th century.

You sentiment regarding the inadvisability of gender bias in language is a noble one, and indeed one that I heartilly support. However, your claim that English is inherently a gender neutral language is not born out by the evidence of male and female personal pronouns, different words for male and female siblings etc. There is at least some degree of gender bias in the infrastructure of the language, exacerbated by cultural influences - a female thespian insisting on being called an actor would surely deserve at least a measure of scorn for being somewhat pretentious.

Your own recent dissaprobation of my vehement objection to being referred to as "Mrs." refers.

Au"thor*ess, n.

A female author.


⇒ The word is not very much used, author being commonly applied to a female writer as well as to a male.


© Webster 1913.

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