Bitch: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Literally, a bitch is a female dog. Its original use as an insult was based on a comparison of a woman to a dog in heat.

In literal, non-slang use, bitch is a term for female canines, particularly amongst dog breeders. It is also a common English profanity for a woman that typically carries denigrating or misogynistic overtones—such as resemblance to a dog. It is also used to characterize someone who is belligerent and unreasonable, or displays rudely intrusive or aggressive behavior.

Its original use as a vulgarism, documented to the fourteenth century, suggested high sexual desire in a woman, comparable to a bitch in heat. The range of meanings has expanded in modern usage. In a feminist context, it can indicate a strong or assertive woman, one who might make men feel threatened. When applied to a man, "bitch" is a derogatory term for a subordinate.



The term "bitch" comes from the 1150 word bicche, which was developed from the Old English word bicce. It also may have been derived from the Old Icelandic work bikkja for "female dog." The Oxford English Dictionary dates the term meaning "female dog" to around 1000 A.D.[1]

As a derogatory term for women, it has been in use since the fourteenth[2] or fifteenth century.[1] Its earliest slang meaning mainly referred to sexual behavior, according to the English language historian Geoffrey Hughes:[3]

The early applications were to a promiscuous or sensual woman, a metaphorical extension of the behavior of a bitch in heat. Herein lies the original point of the powerful insult son of a bitch, found as biche sone ca. 1330 in Arthur and Merlin ... while in a spirited exchange in the Chester Play (ca. 1400) a character demands: “Whom callest thou queine, skabde bitch?” (“Who are you calling a whore, you miserable bitch?”).

"Bitch" remained a strong insult through the nineteenth century. The entry in Francis Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785) reads :

A she dog, or doggess; the most offensive appellation that can be given to an English woman, even more provoking than that of whore, as may he gathered from the regular Billinsgate or St. Giles's answer--"I may be a whore, but can't be a bitch."[4]

Modern use

In modern usage the term bitch has different meanings depending largely on context and may vary from very offensive to endearing.[1] The term can refer to a person or thing that is very difficult, as in "Life's a bitch." It is common for insults to lose strength as their meaning broadens ("bastard" is another example).[3] By 1974, Elton John could have a pop hit (#4 in the U.S. and #14 in the U.K.) with "The Bitch Is Back," which mentions "bitch" repeatedly. It was, however, censored by some radio stations.[5]

Modern use can include self-description as an unfairly difficult person. For example, in the New York Times bestseller The Bitch in the House, a woman describes her marriage: "I'm fine all day at work, but as soon as I get home, I'm a horror....I'm the bitch in the house." [6] Boy George admitted "I was being a bitch" in a falling out with Elton John.[7]

Generally, the term is still considered offensive, and not accepted in formal situations. According to linguist Deborah Tannen, "Bitch is the most contemptible thing you can say about a woman. Save perhaps the four-letter C word."[8] It's common for the word to be censored on Prime time TV, often rendered as "the b-word." During the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, a John McCain supporter referred to Hillary Clinton by asking, "How do we beat the bitch?" The event was reported in censored format:[9]

On CNN's "The Situation Room," Washington Post media critic and CNN "Reliable Sources" host Howard Kurtz observed that "Senator McCain did not embrace the 'b' word that this woman in the audience used." ABC reporter Kate Snow adopted the same locution. On CNN's "Out in the Open," Rick Sanchez characterized the word without using it by saying, "Last night, we showed you a clip of one of his supporters calling Hillary Clinton the b-word that rhymes with witch." A local Fox 25 news reporter made the same move when he rhymed the unspoken word with rich.

Rick Sanchez of CNN went on to comment: "...a horrible word that is used to do nothing but demean women... Obviously, the word that's used here is very offensive."[10]


"Bitch" has been reappropriated to have positive meanings in some contexts.

In the context of modern feminism, "bitch" has varied reappropriated meanings that may connote a strong female (anti-stereotype of weak submissive woman), cunning (equal to males in mental guile), or else it may be used as a tongue-in cheek backhanded compliment for someone who has excelled in an achievement.[11][12][13] For example, Bitch magazine describes itself as a "feminist response to pop culture." [14]

Feminist attorney Jo Freeman (Joreen) authored the "Bitch manifesto" in 1968:[15][16]

A Bitch takes shit from no one. You may not like her, but you cannot ignore her....[Bitches] have loud voices and often use them. Bitches are not pretty....Bitches seek their identity strictly thru themselves and what they do. They are subjects, not objects...Often they do dominate other people when roles are not available to them which more creatively sublimate their energies and utilize their capabilities. More often they are accused of domineering when doing what would be considered natural by a man.

Pop culture

In a 2006 interview titled "Pop Goes the Feminist," Bitch magazine co-founder Andi Zeisler explained the naming of the magazine:[11]

When we chose the name, we were thinking, well, it would be great to reclaim the word “bitch” for strong, outspoken women, much the same way that “queer” has been reclaimed by the gay community. That was very much on our minds, the positive power of language reclamation.

Pop culture contains a number of slogans of self-identification based on "bitch". For example,

  • "You call me 'Bitch' like it's a bad thing."
  • "I go zero to bitch in 3.5 seconds."

There are several invented acronyms. Heartless Bitches International is a club with the slogan "Because we know BITCH means: Being In Total Control, Honey!" Other imagined acronyms include

  • "Beautiful Intelligent Talented Creative Honest"
  • "Beautiful Individual That Causes Hardons" [17]
  • "Babe In Total Control of Herself".[18]

Hip hop culture

The word bitch is sometimes used casually among hip-hop artists and followers of the culture. The term is typically used to describe a young female regardless of personality or looks. As in the culture the term "dawg" is used for males it is sometimes said as a type positive way as "bitch" is the female term. Often it is a directly negative and violent condemnation of character (referring sometimes to males as well, but especially directed at females). Queen Latifah constantly uses the phrase "Who you calling a bitch" in her Grammy-winning song "U.N.I.T.Y.".

The terms "biatch", "beyotch" or similar expression is a slang substitute for "bitch". The term has become widely used in mainstream media to avoid censorship. It is a feature of "Let Me Ride" by rapper Dr. Dre, from his album The Chronic. In this album featured artist Snoop Doggy Dogg calls MC Ren and Tim Dog with the word "biatch", and that's why many people think that the word was created by Snoop himself as well as the word "bootylicious", a word featured in the single "Dre Day" from The Chronic. Snoop Dogg also in his live tours says the word "biatch" at the end of Gin and Juice.[19]

In reference to men

When used to describe a male, "bitch" may also confer the meaning of subordinate, especially to another male, as in prison. Generally, this term is used to indicate that the person is acting outside the confines of their gender roles, such as when women are assertive or aggressive, or when men are passive or servile.

In the context of prison sexuality, a bitch is a lower-hierarchy prisoner, typically physically weak or vulnerable, who is dominated by more senior prisoners and forced to adopt a servile role. According to convention, these inmates are used as sexual slaves or traded as personal property.[20]

A "prison bitch" can also refer to any subservient entity, as in the Douglas Rushkoff description of a Microsoft - Yahoo partnership: "Yahoo is merely hooking up with the most alpha male company it can still find in order to survive. Microsoft will soon turn Yahoo into its prison bitch, and this won’t be pretty." [21]


Son of a bitch

The term son of a bitch is a form of profanity usually used to refer to a man who is nasty, rude or otherwise offensive. In Shakespeare's King Lear (1603), the Earl of Kent refers to Oswald as:[22] "...nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch..."

Its use as an insult is as old as that of "bitch". Euphemistic terms are often substituted, such as "gun" in the phrase "son of a gun" as opposed to "son of a bitch", or "s.o.b." for the same phrase. Like "bitch," the severity of the insult has diminished. Roy Blount, Jr. recently extolled the virtues of "son of a bitch" (particularly in comparison to "asshole") in common speech and deed.[23]

Bitch slap

Lance Cade bitch slaps Shelton Benjamin during during the WWE Raw - Survivor Series Tour.

The term "bitch slap" is derived from American slang. In the original sense, a bitch slap is a powerful, full-swing slap in the face with the front of the hand, evoking the way an angry pimp might slap a defiant prostitute (not to be confused with a pimp slap which uses the back of the hand). However, the term is now frequently used figuratively to describe a humiliating defeat or punishment.

Riding bitch

"Riding bitch" is a slang term for riding pillion, sitting behind the driver on a motorcycle.[24] It can also refer to sitting between others in a in a car. According to Urban Dictionary, traditionally the smallest person and/or a female sit in the middle "so that the guys don't touch each other (irrational male homophobia)" [25]

In cards

To have the "bitch end" of a hand in poker is to have the weaker version of the same hand as another player. This situation occurs especially in poker games with community cards. For example, to have a lower straight than one's opponenet is to have the bitch end.[citation needed]

"The bitch" is slang for the queen of spades.[26]

Other forms

When used as a verb, to bitch means to complain. Usage in this context is almost always pejorative in intent. Allegedly, it was originally used to refer to the stereotypical wife's constant complaints about petty things, effectively tieing in the etymology with the vulgar slang for an unpleasant woman.[27]

As an adjective, the term sometimes has a meaning opposite its usual connotations. Something that is bitching or bitchin' is really great. For example, an admired motorcycle may be praised as a "bitchin' bike".[28]

Self-identified bitches

The band 7 Year Bitch in concert.
  • Bitch (performer)
  • Elton John. "It is my theme song," in discussion of The Bitch Is Back.[5]
  • Feminist Bitch Webring. "I am proud to be a feminist bitch. There is nothing wrong with sticking up for yourself and telling people they are sexist, rude, and/or patriarchal jerks." [29]
  • Madonna. "I'm tough, ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay." [30]
  • Sandra Bullock. "I am a bitch. I am a horrible, evil bitch but I'm a good actress and I can act like a really sweet person. Everyone has it in them." [31]

See also

Further reading


  1. ^ a b c Grynbaum, Michael M. (August 7, 2007). "It’s a Female Dog, or Worse. Or Endearing. And Illegal?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  2. ^ "bitch". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-01-09. 
  3. ^ a b Hughes, Geoffrey. Encyclopedia of Swearing : The Social History of Oaths, Profanity, Foul Language, and Ethnic Slurs in the English-Speaking World. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2006.
  4. ^ Grose, Francis. 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. Hosted at Project Gutenberg. Retrieved on January 9, 2007.
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ The Bitch in the House, ed. Cathi Hanaeur
  7. ^
  8. ^ Carlson, Margaret (1/16/95). "Muzzle the B word". Time 145 (2): p 36 (2/3 p). ISSN 0040781X.,9171,982345,00.html.  Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost AN 9501107624 (accessed October 1, 2009).
  9. ^
  10. ^ Jamieson, Kathleen Hall; Jacqueline Dunn (N.D.). "The ‘B’ Word in Traditional News and on the Web". Nieman Harvard. Retrieved 2009-09-27. 
  11. ^ a b Pop Goes the Feminist, Deborah Solomon interviews Andi Zeisler, New York Times, August 6, 2006.
  12. ^ Third Wave Feminism, by Tamara Straus, MetroActive, December 6, 2000.
  13. ^ You've Really Got Some Minerva, Veronica Mars, 2006-11-21.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Bitch Definition,". Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^


Up to date as of January 15, 2010
(Redirected to bitch article)

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




Middle English biche, bicche, Old English bicce





bitch (plural bitches)

  1. (usually humorous or archaic) A female dog or other canine. In particular one who has recently had puppies.
    My bitch just had puppies: they're so cute!
  2. (vulgar, derogatory) A female who is malicious, spiteful, unbearable, intrusive, or obnoxious.
    Ann gossiped about me and mocked my work; sometimes she can be a real bitch!
    • 1913, D. H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers, I. iv. 60:
      'Look at the children, you nasty little bitch!' he sneered.
  3. (vulgar, derogatory) By extension, a man with any of these qualities, especially a gay man (suggesting his behavior is womanly) or a man who is dishonorable, cowardly, spineless, whiny, or otherwise behaves in a manner unbecoming a man.
  4. (humorous, slang, used with a possessive pronoun, usually between women, between gay men and between women and gay men) Friend.
    What’s up, my bitch?
    How my bitches been doin'?
  5. An angry retort directed to a close buddy.
    Will you stop this, my bitch??
  6. A person who is made to adopt a submissive role in a relationship.
    Do you have to ask your girl before you do everything? You must be the bitch in the relationship.
    • 1999 September 23, Chris Sheridan, “This House Is Freakin’ Sweet”, “Peter, Peter, Caviar Eater”, Family Guy, season 2, episode 1, Fox Broadcasting Company
      Now that you're stinking rich, we'd gladly be your bitch.
  7. (slang) A complaint.
  8. (slang, usually only used in the singular) A difficult or confounding problem.
    Question 5 was a real bitch, don’t you think?
    That's a bitch of a question. (Or, a bitch of a problem, etc.)
  9. (slang) A queen (the playing card)

Usage notes

  • The noun bitch is sometimes diffused by intentional colloquial overuse or misuse. In print, the noun referring to a person is demeaning and sometimes implies that the person being insulted is subservient.
  • In professional circles, the noun bitch is sometimes used to refer to intelligent and ambitious women with a high level of sex-appeal who use those qualities to achieve their goals.
  • In the sense of an aggressive woman, this term is generally derogatory when used by men (and often when used by women), but, it is also used by some women to refer to themselves positively in a form of reclamation. It is important to note that many people do not believe that "bitch" is able to be reclaimed, because of its continued pejorative usage. Thus, the term is both potentially liberatory while also being controversial.


  • (female dog, etc): female (when the species is specified or implied)
  • (malicious, etc, woman): cow
  • (malicious, etc, man): bastard
  • (jocular slang, one's friend):
  • (person in an unfavorable, undesirable position):
  • (person in a relationship who is made to adopt a submissive role): doormat
  • (a complaint): gripe, grumble, kvetch, moan, whinge
  • (difficult or confounding problem): toughie, stinker, pain in the ass
  • (to talk about):

Derived terms




to bitch

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to bitch (third-person singular simple present bitches, present participle bitching, simple past and past participle bitched)

  1. (transitive, with “about”) To make derogatory comments (about a person).
    Look, I saw you bitching about me yesterday, I know how you feel: why can't you say it to my face?
  2. (transitive, with “about”) To criticize (something) spitefully, often for the sake of complaining rather than in order to have the problem corrected.
    All you ever do is bitch about the food I cook for you!



Simple English


Bitch can mean different things:

Simple English Wiktionary has the word meaning for:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address