A male coupler is a piece of hardware that has a protruding part that plugs into an outlet, jack, pipe or other connection. The term usually refers to a separate piece to which two other connections fit, although using it to describe one half of a two-piece connection is also possible. In fact, a coupler is also called a fitting, adaptor or connector. Matching connections that male couplers connect to are called female. This term isn’t generally used in everyday conversation, however, if the female connection is an electrical outlet or a phone jack — those are just called outlets and jacks, respectively.
The terms “male” and “female,” when referring to couplers and connections, refer to the similarity to male and female genitals, though the names have become so common that they do not cause embarrassment or offense. For the most part, if a connecting piece has parts that stick out and plug into holes in another connecting piece, that first piece is male. Occasionally a male coupler will have an exterior sheath that makes it look female, but closer inspection shows one or more prongs in the middle of the coupler.
Male couplers, when referring to the separate connector, are male on both sides. They are often labeled male-to-male couplers and are common connectors for audio and video cables. Someone trying to connect cables or plugs that are both female would use a male-to-male coupler to form a bridge between the two female connections.
Metal and plastic are the most common materials that make up couplers. The plug portion of a male coupler, especially for audio, video, computer and other electronics, is usually metal in order to conduct signals and electricity properly. Male couplers for plastic pipes can be plastic if the connection doesn’t have to conduct signals or be particularly strong.
Not all connections that look female require a male coupler. Pipe fittings, for example, can be female-to-female and fit over pipe ends that look female themselves. It is best to follow manufacturer directions when installing pipes or cables and use the specific type of fitting or coupler called for in the instructions, rather than assuming that a connection requires a male coupler. Using the wrong coupler could result in leaks or poor waterproofing in plumbing, for example, or undermine the strength of the connection.