In spite of the linguistic ‘dirigisme’ during the past three and a half centuries, there remains in contemporary French a number of nouns of double or doubtful gender. Non-standard usage is potentially even more prone to fluctuation and hesitation, given the relative lack of awareness in spontaneous, informal speech of official norms. The changes of gender that have occurred and the anomalies – real or perceived – that have arisen in unconventional French are attributable to a variety of processes, both morpho-syntactic and semantic in nature. Most cases can be explained in terms of one or other of these processes (e.g. apocope, ellipsis, syllepsis). However some remain mysterious, contradicting established patterns. Intra-register gender attraction may well occur, though it is likely to be unconscious. The question of zero gender and neutralization is also raised.