bitch

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English

Etymology

From Middle English biche, bicche, from Old English biċċe, from Proto-Germanic *bikjǭ (compare Norwegian bikkje (dog), Old Danish bikke), from *bikjaną (to thrust, attack) (compare Old Norse bikkja (plunge into water), Dutch bikken (to hack)). More at bicker.

Pronunciation

Noun

bitch (plural bitches)

  1. (dated or specialised, dog-breeding) A female dog or other canine, particularly a recent mother.
    My bitch just had puppies; they're so cute!
  2. (vulgar, offensive) A despicable or disagreeable, aggressive person, typically a woman or man considered effeminate in some way. [from 15th c.]
    Ann gossiped about me and mocked my work; sometimes she can be a real bitch!
    • 1621, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], “Symptomes of Iealousie, Fear, Sorrow, Suspition, Strange Actions, Gestures, Outrages, Locking Up, Oathes, Trials, Lawes, &c.”, in The Anatomy of Melancholy, Oxford: Printed by Iohn Lichfield and Iames Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 216894069; The Anatomy of Melancholy. [], 5th corrected and augmented edition, Oxford: Printed [by Robert Young, Miles Flesher, and Leonard Lichfield and William Turner] for Henry Cripps, 1638, OCLC 932915040, partition 3, section 3, member 2, subsection 1, page 610:
      He cals her on a ſudden, all to naught; ſhe is a ſtrumpet, a light huswife, a bitch, an arrant whore.
    • 1913, D. H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers, I. iv. 60:
      'Look at the children, you nasty little bitch!' he sneered.
    • 1959, William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch, page 70
      HASSAN: "You cheap Factualist bitch! Go and never darken my rumpus room again!"
  3. (vulgar, offensive) A submissive person, often female, who does what others want; a slave. [from the 20th c]
    Dude, don't be such a bitch. Assert yourself.
    You're so weak-willed with your girlfriend. You must be the real 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.
  4. (obsolete, informal, of a man) A playful variation on dog (sense "man"). [from the 16th c]
  5. (humorous, colloquial, used with a possessive pronoun) Friend. [from the 20th c]
    What’s up, my bitch?
    How my bitches been doin'?
  6. (colloquial) A complaint, especially when the complaint is unjustified.
  7. (colloquial, usually only used in the singular) A difficult or confounding problem.
    Level 5 was a real bitch, don’t you think?
    That's a bitch of a question.
  8. (colloquial) A queen (playing card), particularly the queen of spades in the card game of hearts.
  9. (figuratively) Something unforgiving and unpleasant.
    Karma's a bitch.
  10. (informal, slang) Place; situation
    I'm 'bout to get up outta this bitch.

Usage notes

  • While bitch’s original canine sense permits it to be used in most media, it remains offensive enough that, in the US, it is often minced (as b, b-word, or female dog) in formal contexts.

Alternative forms

slang and non-standard forms, used only for the insult (not the female animal):

Synonyms

  • (female dog, etc): female (when the species is specified or implied)
  • (malicious, etc, woman): For semantic relationships of this term, see shrew or jerk in the Thesaurus.
  • (malicious, etc, man): For semantic relationships of this term, see bastard or jerk in the Thesaurus.
  • (jocular slang, one's friend): For semantic relationships of this term, see friend in the Thesaurus.
  • (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):

Hyponyms

female canine

Derived terms

Translations

References

Verb

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

  1. (intransitive) To behave or act as a bitch.
  2. (intransitive) To criticize 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!
  3. (transitive) To spoil, to ruin.
    • 1924, Ford Madox Ford, Some Do Not…, Penguin 2012 (Parade's End), p. 162:
      ‘You're a Franco-maniac…You're thought to be a French agent…That's what's bitching your career!’

Synonyms

Translations


French

Etymology

From English

Noun

bitch f (plural bitchs)

  1. bitch (all senses)