Is "bosom" a gender-neutral word? Can we use it to describe the chest/breast of a man?

Eg: She embraced his bosom with passion.


Bosom has two related, but distinct meanings:

1 a: the human chest and especially the front part of the chest
// hugged the child to his bosom

b : a woman's breasts regarded especially as a single feature
// a woman with an ample bosom
also : BREAST
// a woman's bosoms


There are also some figurative uses of bosom, which, not being literal, can apply to males - "a story you will take to your bosom" - or to non-human things - "the bosom of her family".

BUT, none of these uses is especially common. My very unscientific sense is that the "woman's breasts" meaning is more common, but it still sounds old-fashioned.

If I were an English learner, I would try to be aware of the meaning of this word, but I would never use it myself. As a native speaker of American English I have only ever used this word jokingly to sound old-fashioned.

  • Thank you for your response. This is a modern-day translation of an old poetry work about kings and queens. I am wondering if I should use the word to give the reader a feel of the olden times. I have read such sentences elsewhere. I am also concerned about the modern-day meaning of the word.
    – Ammu
    Feb 10 at 23:41
  • 1
    @Ammu, if there's any appropriate context for the word, an intentionally old-fashioned translation of a poem would probably be it.
    – Juhasz
    Feb 10 at 23:47
  • So, do you think "She embraced his bosom with passion" would be okay?.
    – Ammu
    Feb 10 at 23:55
  • 3
    No, @Ammu: Embrace means 'hold closely in one's arms'. You can't embrace a man's bosom: it's too abstract. It's either the space between his chest and his clothes - in which precious things may be clutched - or it's the seat of his emotions. It's not a part of his body. Even when it's part of a woman's body you can't get your arms specifically around a bosom! She might embrace him with passion. Or, if he was smallish, she might take him to her bosom and embrace him. But I'd strongly advise you to look up some examples of its use before venturing down this treacherous road! Feb 11 at 4:47
  • @OldBrixtonian Thank you. I came across a sentence in a story sometime back which ran thus: She, who has abundant passion for the embrace of your bosom. Does this sentence make any sense or is it wrong to say so? From your explanation, it does seem like a wrong way to use the word.
    – Ammu
    Feb 12 at 0:09

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