Open main menu
See also: two spirit



English Wikipedia has an article on:


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /tuːˈspɪɹɪt/, /ˈtuːˌspɪɹɪt/

Etymology 1Edit

A calque of Ojibwe niizh manidoowag (two spirits), from niizh (two) + manidoo (spirit).[1] Replaced berdache, which had come to be considered offensive.


two-spirit (plural two-spirits)

  1. A Native (North) American gender-variant, homosexual or bisexual person (especially one belonging to a traditional tribal third-gender, fourth-gender or transgender cultural category that has a ceremonial role).
    • 2006, John Leland, A Spirit of Belonging, Inside and Out:
      "'The elders will tell you the difference between a gay Indian and a Two-Spirit,' [Joey Criddle] said, underscoring the idea that simply being gay and Indian does not make someone a Two-Spirit."
    • 2016, Harlan Pruden and Se-ah-dom Edmo for the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center, Two-Spirit People: Sex, Gender & Sexuality in Historic and Contemporary Native America:
      "The term/identity of two-spirit does not make sense unless it is contextualized within a Native American frame." "Today, most people associate the term with LGBT Natives; however, the work of the two-spirit organizations is more akin with the traditional understanding."
Usage notesEdit
  • Some Native American and First Nations people include both (contemporary) gay, lesbian, and bisexual as well as (historical and contemporary) gender-variant members of their communities as two-spirit, considering the categories "essentially identical"; others view LGB people as a different category from gender-variant people.[2]
  • berdache (now considered offensive; no longer in contemporary use)


two-spirit (not comparable)

  1. Pertaining to or being a two-spirit.
    • 1996, Ritch C Savin-Williams and Kenneth M Cohen, The Lives of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals: Children to Adults, page 421:
      A Hupa two-spirit male told me: ‘I was real feminine as a child, from as early as I can remember.’
    • 1997, Sue-Ellen Jacobs, Wesley Thomas, and Sabine Lang, Two-spirit People, page 4:
      With this etymology, it should come as no surprise that many Native American gay, lesbian, transgender, and other two-spirit people consider the term ‘berdache’ derogatory.
    • 2010, Walter L Williams, The Guardian, 11 Oct 2010:
      Instead of seeing two-spirit persons as transsexuals who try to make themselves into "the opposite sex", it is more accurate to understand them as individuals who take on a gender status that is different from both men and women.

See alsoEdit


Etymology 2Edit

From two +‎ spirit.


two-spirit (not comparable)

  1. (theology) Involving two spirits; especially, pertaining to the doctrine of dualism espoused in the so-called Treatise on the Two Spirits in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
    • 1957, The Harvard Divinity School bulletin (Harvard University Press), page 133:
      Paul's grasp of the Spirit as the sign of the erupting messianic age is at odds with the two-spirit thought of Qumran which never became incompatible with law observance.