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Bitch is a term for female canines, particularly amongst dog breeders. It is also a common English vulgarism for a woman, that typically carries denigrating or misogynistic overtones —such that consider a person to resemble a dog. Its usage may be to characterize someone as having aggressive and spiteful bitterness, or else in being in possession of rudely intrusive or domineering tendencies. This meaning has been in use since around 1400.[1] In typical usage it indicates that the speaker has little respect for the subject person, and that the speaker considers the subject to be a lackey or else lacking in dignity. Conversely, its usage implies that the context of the statement or the speaker using the term have little association with respectability themselves.

When used to describe a male, it 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. More recent variants of bitch are bitchy, ill-tempered (1925), and to bitch, to complain (1930).[1]

In more recent usage in the context of feminism, it 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. Since the 1980s, the term "bitch" has become increasingly accepted and less offensive. After the word was widely used between rivals Krystle and Alexis on the nighttime soap-opera TV series Dynasty, it gained usage, in malicious contexts or otherwise, and is now very rarely censored on television broadcasts. Prior to the term's general acceptance, euphemistic terms were 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. More generally the term has also acquired the meaning of something unpleasant or irksome, as in the expression "Life's a Bitch".



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 phrase "son of a bitch" dates back to its use in Of Arthour & Merlin c. 1330.



The word "bitch" has long been in use to refer to a woman in contempt, as shown in an 1811 dictionary which describes bitch as "the most offensive appellation that can be given to an English woman, even more provoking than that of whore."[2]

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 term can also connote ownership of a woman, such as in the phrase "my bitch", therefore reinforcing cultural norms of the word as negative, especially towards the feminine. This is similar to previous feminist attempts to identify it as an epithet for a strong, self-reliant woman.[3][4][5]

Prison slang

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. To call a male a "bitch" usually suggests that he is sexually passive in this manner. However, it can also refer to anybody who is subservient.

Bitch slap

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.

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 was also well defined in the once popular tune "Let Me Ride" by music performer Dr. Dre. Since the original term is no longer as derogatory as it once was, these derivatives are often used with emphasis to try to achieve the expression of irritation the term itself once expressed about the female character.

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. It also is used as an exclamation or in an exclamative pretext. It is considered a swear or curse. It is commonly euphemized as "SOB".

In driving

The word bitch as in the phrase riding bitch can refer to sitting in the middle of a bench seat when one is sandwiched between the driver and another passenger—an uncomfortable position when space in the car is scarce, especially where the drive tunnel limits legroom. Riding bitch or the bitch seat can also refer to the middle rear seat in a small five-seater hatchback or sedan (often the only seat without a shoulder-strap).

The origins of the phrase "riding bitch" could be interpreted as being sexist. In the past, as well as currently in some parts of the world, men have stereotypically been the drivers and women have sat next to them, with the child or passenger in the seat furthest from the driver. "Riding bitch" also refers to riding on the small seat behind the driver of a motorcycle.

The term flip a bitch is used primarily in America where it means to make a u-turn (legal or illegal).


When used as a verb, to bitch means to complain. Usage in this context is almost always pejorative in intent, usually used to express frustration in the complainer's complaints. Allegedly, it was originally used to refer to as the stereotypical wife's constant complaints about petty things, effectively tieing in the etymology with the vulgar slang for an unpleasant woman.[6]

In cards

In poker

Common situations in poker where another player has "drawn out," or managed to defy probability and defeat them with a previously weaker hand, is occasionally referred to as "getting bitched."

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.

In hearts

In the game of Hearts, the queen of spades (worth 13 points alone) is referred to as "the bitch" or the "Black Bitch". The latter nickname has evolved into an alternative name for the game.

See also



  1. ^ a b "bitch". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved on 2007-01-09. 
  2. ^ Grose, Francis. 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. Hosted at Project Gutenberg. Retrieved on January 9, 2007.
  3. ^ Pop Goes the Feminist, Deborah Solomon interviews Andi Zeisler, New York Times, August 6, 2006.
  4. ^ Third Wave Feminism, by Tamara Straus, MetroActive, December 6, 2000.
  5. ^ You've Really Got Some Minerva, Veronica Mars, 2006-11-21.
  6. ^ "Bitch Definition,". Retrieved on 2008-10-10. 

Further reading

  • Why Women Who Succeed Are Called Bitch by Leonard Pitts, Miami Herald, November 2007.

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

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:

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