Mostly, Klingon vocabulary and grammar ignores sexual gender. Most nouns are neutral to gender, such as HoD is a male or female captain, joH can refer to both "Lord" or "Lady" and so on. There are only few that are clearly connected to a gender.

Gender related words

This is a list of sexual gender related words.
female translation vs male translation source
be' woman - loD man TKD
be'Hom girl - loDHom boy TKD
be'nI' sister - loDnI' brother TKD
SoS mother - vav father TKD
SoSnI' grandmother - vavnI' grandfather TKD
chaj close female friend - maqoch pal, buddy KGT
nay marry (wife does this) - Saw marry (husband does this) TKD

Combinations with be' / loD

There are several words that can be specified by adding be' or loD to it. 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 (male) - qItloD guinea fowl (male)
DI'raq be' sheep - 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." (1)


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.

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.

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 (2)
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.


1 : The Little Prince, p. 153

2 : message to the mailing list of 08 march 2016

Category: Grammar    Latest edit: 12 May 2020, by KlingonTeacher    Created: 08 Mar 2016 by KlingonTeacher
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