Bitch is a term for the female of a canine species in general. It is also frequently used as a term for a malicious, spiteful, domineering, intrusive, or unpleasant person, especially a woman. This second meaning has been in use since around 1400. 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).
Since the 1980s, the term "bitch" became more and more accepted and less offensive. After the word was widely used between rivals Krystle and Alexis on the drama 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, euphemism terms were often substituted, such as "gun" in the phrase "son of a gun" as opposed to "son of a bitch". More generally the term has also acquired the meaning of something unpleasant or irksome, as in the expression "Life's a Bitch".
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
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).
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.
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.
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 term biatch, beyotch or beotch is a slang word 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 abbreviated as SOB.
The word bitch
as in the phrase riding bitch
can refer to the middle bench seat
in which 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 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 a the stereotypical wife
's constant complaints about petty (in the husband
's view) things, effectively tieing in the etymology with the vulgar slang for an unpleasant woman.
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 the game of Hearts
, the queen of spades (worth thirteen points alone) is referred to as "the bitch" or the "Black Bitch". The latter nickname has evolved into an alternative name for the game itself.
- Why Women Who Succeed Are Called Bitch by Leonard Pitts, Miami Herald, November 2007.