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A bachelor is a man above the age of majority who has never been married (see single), the terms origin in this sense dates from 1385, Middle English.

The term is sometimes restricted to men who do not have and are not actively seeking a spouse or other personal partner. For example, men who are in a committed relationship with a personal partner (female or male) to whom they are not married are no longer generally considered "bachelors," but neither are they considered married. Thus, a broad grey, unnamed status has emerged between the concepts of "bachelor" and "married man."

Research done by sociologists Richard Pitt and Elizabeth Borland sharpens the definition of bachelor to mean "men who live independently, outside of their parents' home and other institutional settings, who are neither married nor cohabitating" for just this reason. They discovered that these bachelors were more liberal in their attitudes towards women's roles in society; this was not the case for those men who were only "unmarried".

During the Victorian Era, the term "confirmed bachelor" was used for showing a man's unmarried status, but today is often used as a euphemism for a gay man in the United States and the United Kingdom. In spite of the wider acceptance of gay people and same-sex relationships in recent years there are only little changes in this historic usage. Meanwhile, the term "confirmed bachelor" can also refer to heterosexual men who show no interest in marriage or classes of committed relationships.

The term "lifelong bachelor" has commonly replaced "confirmed bachelor", especially in reference to middle aged or older men who have never married and especially if they are not known to be in a relationship.

"Most eligible bachelor" is a generic term for a published listing of bachelors considered to be desirable marriage candidates. Usually "most eligible bachelor" lists are published on an annual basis and present listed men in a ranked order.

Etymology and historical meanings

The word is from Old French bacheler "knight bachelor", a young squire in training, ultimately from Latin baccalarius, a vassal farmer. The Old French term crossed into English around 1300, referring to one belonging to the lowest stage of knighthood. Knights bachelor were either poor vassals who could not afford to take the field under their own banner, or knights too young to support the responsibility and dignity of knights banneret. From the 14th century, the term was also used for a junior member of a guild, otherwise known as "yeomen", or university; hence, an ecclesiastic of an inferior grade, e.g. a young monk or even recently appointed canon (Severtius, de episcopis Lugdunen-sibus, p. 377, in du Cange).

"Bachelor" can also refer to those holding a "bachelor's degree" from a university (or a four-year college, in the Americanmarker system of higher education). In this sense the word baccalarius or baccalaureus first appears at the University of Parismarker in the 13th century, in the system of degrees established under the auspices of Pope Gregory IX, as applied to scholars still in statu pupillari. Thus there were two classes of baccalarii: the baccalarii cursores, theological candidates passed for admission to the divinity course; and the baccalarii dispositi, who, having completed this course, were entitled to proceed to the higher degrees. The term baccalaureus is a pun combining the prosaic baccalarius with bacca lauri "laurel berry" — according to the American Heritage Dictionary, "bacca" is the Old Irish word for "farmer" + laureus, "laurel berry," the idea being that a "baccalaureate" had farmed (cultivated) his mind.

The sense of "unmarried man" dates to 1385. The feminine bachelorette is from 1935, replacing earlier bachelor-girl. In 19th century American slang to bach was used as a verb meaning "to live as an unmarried man".

See also


  1. Dictionary search of Bachelor.
  2. Cole, David. " Note on Analyticity and the Definability of 'Bachelor'." Philosophy Department of the University of Minnesota Duluth. 1 February 1999. Accessed 14 February 2008.
  3. Pitt, Richard and Elizabeth Borland. 2008. "Bachelorhood and Men's Attitudes about Gender Roles" The Journal of Men's Studies 16:140-158
  4. biology - List of sexual slurs
  5. Peter Wilby on the Lord Browne saga | Media | The Guardian

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