Sexual gender is non-existent in Klingon grammar, and most nouns are neutral to gender. There are only few that are clearly connected to a gender.


From a grammatical point of view, Klingon grammatical gender refers to "body parts", "capable of language" and "other things", and this affects only the usage of plural suffixes and possessive suffixes.

Sexual gender (i.e. the distinction between male and female) is absolutely non-existent in grammar: The pronoun ghaH is translated as "she" and "he" and would with no doubt also refer to gender-neutral beings. Also, the plural pronoun chaH ("they") refers to beings, no matter which gender. It should be noted though, that there is no "singular they" as it is used in English to neutrally refer to a person.

Unclear words

Most nouns describing people can be assumed to be neutral to gender, such as HoD "captain" and Qang "chancellor". The noun joH was first translated as "lord" in TKD, the definition of "lady" was added in KGT. This might confirm that those nouns are neutral to gender, but cannot be overinterpreted to apply to all nouns.

Some words are connected to one gender per definition, without specifying if they can be used for the other gender as well.
Klingon Definition
ghojmoq nurse, nanny, governess
So'chIm soh-chim, "surrogate mother"
tawI'yan Tawi'yan, best man

Okrand explained:
Even though the only person we know about who is a soh-chim happens to be female, I think it's reasonable to assume that the individual chosen to be responsible for a child could be of any gender. So "godparent" is a good approximation. If a gender distinction has to be made, add loD or be' after So'chIm. (qepHom 2020)

This explanation makes it possible to assume that also the other words are gender neutral.

Definitely genderless words

Qang: Near the end of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, when the sniper shoots at the Federation President, someone shouts Qang yIQan! (subtitled as "Protect the Chancellor!", referring to Azetbur. So we know that Qang is gender-neutral.

Also, basically all words ending with -wI' can be regarded as gender neutral.

The following words are definitely gender-neutral:
Klingon Definition
bulvar monk
qaytu' parent
Qang chancellor
maqlegh priest
yIr'ach close friend
'Ipnal spouse

Gender related words

This is a list of sexual gender related words. For anatomy, see sexuality.
female translation vs male translation source
be' woman - loD man TKD
be'Hom girl - loDHom boy TKD
be'nI' sister - loDnI' brother TKD
chaj* close female friend - maqoch pal, buddy* KGT
me' aunt - 'IrneH uncle HQ 9.3
nay marry (wife does this) - Saw marry (husband does this) TKD
SoS mother - vav father TKD
SoSnI' grandmother - vavnI' grandfather TKD
'e'mam aunt - tennuS uncle HQ 9.3

* The word yIr'ach is a gender neutral word for "close friend". (1)

Combinations with be' / loD

There are several words that can be specified by adding be' or loD to it. Okrand has frequently said that to make a distinction, add be'/loD. It is likely that this is a general rulethat can be applied to all words. All of the following words can stand alone, i.e. without be'/loD. In that case they mean the same thing without being gender specific.

Based on the given canon examples, be'/loD usually follows the word it modifies, but there is no general rule about this, and whether one can apply this to everything.

female translation vs male translation source
puqbe' daughter - puqloD son TKD
qItbe' guinea fowl (f) - qItloD guinea fowl (m)
DI'raq be' ewe - DI'raq loD ram The Little Prince
puqnI'be' granddaughter - puqnI'loD grandson HQ
lorbe' cousin (f) - lorloD cousin (m) HQ
tey'be' cousin (f) - tey'loD cousin (m) HQ

About spacing, Okrand wrote the following:
Kin terms (like puqloD and lorloD) are set terms, regular vocabulary items. For animals, Klingon doesn't have special words for male vs. female. That is, English has ram (male), ewe (female), sheep (both/either), but Klingon has only an equivalent for sheep — no separate word for ram or ewe. If it's necessary to specify sex/gender, it's done using the noun-noun construction." (2)


Im family relations, there is an undefined noun-part nal (see that for details) that could be interpreted as "be married to". It usually comes at the end of the word, which means that the words be' and loD come first in these combinations. This should not be read as "male/female version of nal", it is more a "nal version of be'/loD".

female translation vs male translation source
be'nal wife - loDnal husband TKD
be' lIwnal female concubine - loD lIwnal male concubine Hamletmachine

➞ See main article family terms for details

Okrand explained on this:
loD lIwnal and be' lIwnal follow the pattern of loDnal and be'nal (and loDnI' and be'nI') rather than other terms (such as lorloD and lorbe'). Perhaps this is because a lIwnal, in a very particular way, fits into the role of a loDnal or be'nal, so the construction is formed by analogy (using that in the technical linguistic sense) to these two.

(message from Marc Okrand to Lieven L. Litaer of May 11, 2020)

Talking about Transgender in Klingon

Somebody once wondered whether Klingons would have a way to describe the transgender or third gender persons. Besides of the philosophical question, this article regards the topic from the linguistic point of view.

There are two words to distinguish between biological sex and chosen gender: ghaQpey' refers to sex from a biological point of view, while HuQ'am refers to gender as identity, chosen by a person. (3)

Pronominal prefixes

All of the pronoun problems that transgender people have in English don't exist in Klingon. When talking about someone who is transgender, nothing changes in standard speech. One still uses ghaH and the same pronominal prefixes. There is no "singular they" in Klingon.

Cultural issues

bubble   This is an OPINION PAGE. It may contain different points of view about different parts of Klingon. You may add useful thoughts, but please remember this is not a forum.

written by Melanie Roney, aka naHQun (4)
Male and female Klingons can equally serve in the military (which is pretty much all of the Klingons we see on screen). They can both wear the same standard uniform. And to some ears, their names all just sound Klingon. K'Ehleyr doesn't sound like a girl's name. It just sounds Klingon. 98% of the time, we see no separation of men and women. They all just blend together and do their jobs.

If you wanted to purposely misgender someone in Klingon, you would have to straight out say "is a man" or "is a woman". The chances of doing that by mistake are very slim. Most English mistakes are due to pronouns.

While I'm all about new vocabulary, I'm not sure I want a word for "to be transgender". What if Klingons just don't care about gender? Maybe they don't have a term for "tomboy" or "tomgirl" because they just let people be themselves. "They're rough". "They're gentle". "They don't want to be a warrior". "They want to be a farmer". We only coin terms for things when the need arises. What if the need never arose?

If that was the case, we would only need 3 terms for sex (and zero for gender): male, female, and intersex.

So as much as I would love a page full of terms on gender, I would rather have a culture that never developed the need for them. Sure, that'll make some of my translations more difficult, but I'll deal. Just give us a term for "intersex", and I'll be good.

See also


1 , 3 : qep'a' 2022

2 : The Little Prince, p. 153

4 : message to the mailing list of 08 march 2016

The Klingon Language Wiki is a private fan project to promote the Klingon language. See Copyright notice for details.