male ballerina
Not exactly an "origin" question, but a good one. Does anyone know what a male ballerina is called??? No one I ask seems to know.
  1. ballerino
  2. danseur
  3. ballet dancer
  4. dancer
  5. twinkle-toes
  6. Skippy
  7. Bruce
Looking back to a childhood craze for ballet, I seem to remember that the male equivalent to "ballerina" (in the sense of "leading dancer" ) is "premier danseur".


Well, "ballerina" is simply Italian for "dancer," but as in the feminine gender as Italian is one of those languages that has gender modes for its words. The masculine gender for "dancer" in Italian is "ballerino." The French masculine for "dancer" is "danseur" and the feminine is "dansuese." English rarely permits gender modes to its words and "dancer" suffices regardless of the object's sex. However, since many different types of dancing are recognized, and since English easily assimilates words from other languages into itself, "ballerina" is now the English, technical word for specifically a ballet dancer, but suffers from the handicap of being gender-specific and leaving a hole for a single word communicating "male ballet dancer." The 3 word phrase is substited readily, however, and with use, "ballerino" would become an accepted English word. Though, with use, "ballerina" could be applied to males in English, too.

"Prima" is Italian, feminine gender, for "first," and "premier" is the French, masculine gender. Though "prima ballerina" might well be English, too, by this point. I'm not too sure about "premier danseur," it seems pretty obscure to me.

Frank Pierce
We have adopted the Italian "Graffito" for a single unit of graffiti, but perhaps with some delay and hesitation. It's not unheard of in newspapers.

I'd think that ballerino might make it too. Somehow that masculine ballerina just doesn't hit me quite right.

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