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Gender variants: nouns with more than one gender

In principle, German nouns have one fixed gender. With some nouns, however, gender can vary. There are two different types of nouns with more than one gender:

Nouns with varying gender
Identical nouns with different gender

Nouns with varying gender

Some nouns can have different genders and still have the same meaning. For example:

der/das Barock
der/das Biotop
der/das Bonbon
der/das Dotter
der/das Kehricht
der/das Liter

der/die Abscheu
der/die Gischt
der/die Salbei
der/die Sellerie
der/die Quader

die/das Furore
die/das Soda

Sometimes, gender variation is regional:

whole German-speaking area:  das Radio
southern German-speaking area also:  der Radio

Sometimes, a professional language prefers another gender than the one used in common language:

common language: das/der Virus
professional term: das Virus

Often, gender variants are not equally common:

common:  der Bereich
rare:  das Bereich

See also: Gender of foreign nouns

Regional Variants

Identical nouns with different gender

Some nouns have different meanings when they have different genders. We do not consider these cases as one noun with varying gender, but as two independent nouns sharing an identical form.

Nouns that are semantically related:

der Junge boy das Junge young animal
der Kristall mineral das Kristall crystal glass
der See lake die See sea
der Verdienst  earnings das Verdienst  merit
Nouns that are not semantically related:

die Heide heath, moor  der Heide heathen, pagan 
das Laster vice der Laster truck
der Mangel fault, lack die Mangel mangle
das Tor gate der Tor fool

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