Bitch: Etymology and Select Typologies

April 5, 2007

 

In several recent posts the term ‘bitch’ has been bantered around quite loosely. We here at Beats Entropy have used the term in various ways, sometimes with loving respect, other times with disquieted camaraderie , and occasionally it has come up in somewhat more serious discourse.

Etymologically speaking, the term ‘bitch’ has a few common and a few uncommon meanings.

Primarily bitch is understood to be noun referring to a female dog or fox. More generally, in this sense, the term bitch can be extended to a variety of animals via conjunction, for example: wolverine-bitch, donkey-bitch, etc…

The second definition of the word, no longer in decent usage, is a noun describing a lewd or sensual woman, which in modern usage has come to be a derogatory term for an especially malicious or treacherous woman (still often associated with sexuality).

While most of our current modern usages are derived from its derogatory meaning, bitch also has other technical definitions, including its application to a promiscuous male (meaning essentially the same as ‘dog’), a mining term relating to a specific metal rod used as a tool, a verb meaning to frequent the company of lewd women (as in: Let’s go out bitching tonight), and finally as a noun describing a primitive Canadian oil lamp.

As noted however, most modern uses of the term relate to its more derogatory meanings. Yet even within this limited scope, the term has come to be used to describe a plethora of typologies. While the faces of ‘bitchness’ are vast and multifaceted, I have provided – for convenience – four primary archetypes denoted in the modern use of the term.

Type 1: Le Biche or ‘The Bitch’

Also described as a capital ‘B’ Bitch, Le Biche or The Bitch is purposefully malicious and cruel individual (self identifying on the feminine end of the gender scale) who navigate social tact like a Panzer through a puppy mill. Le Biche is strong, smart, socially apt though often tactically short sighted, and can castrate a full grown Ox at 70 paces with a well placed stare.

Type 2: He-bitch

Typically associated here with men of alternative sexual natures, the he-bitch (or in long form he-bitch-man-whore) meaning draws itself from a combination of the lewd woman and dog-man definition. Dripping with sexual innuendo, the he-bitch is characterized by lewd and catty behaviour, as well as the occasional unpermissioned man-toy borrowing.

Type 3: Bitches (generic-male)

Not to be confused with the he-bitch (above), or the bad ass bitches (below), bitches refer to a growing constituency of heterosexual males who practice a particularly lame and flaccid sort of overcompensated masculinity. Best embodied by the punk guy who hits his girlfriend in an epic fight, gets a bottle of gin thrown at him, loses the girl cuz she aint gonna take his shit no more, and proceeds to call up her mom to see if he can get reimbursed for the lost booze. Bitches are typically less than brilliant, compensate for low self-esteem with unpractised machismo, and rarely have any working conception of responsibility or duty. These are the bitches that, as a wise woman once put it, would only be good to be ground up for cat food, but for the fact that many cats do not like to eat pussy.

Type 4: Bad Ass Bitches

Best described in the August 2006 Beats Entropy post of the same name, bad ass bitches are the elite of their gender (born, converted or other-identified). They are as Jack Sparrow is to pirates, as shotguns are to zombie hunters, as mint-chocolate-sex-lube is to all other lubricants. Simply put they are best of the best, who remind us that contrary thousands of years of misogyny, paternalism and patriarchy – the human spirit cannot be contained or limited by invasive categorizations of masculine and feminine.

Of course we here at Beats Entropy support the god-given right to twist and goad language to whatever cruel purposes one might desire. The above typologies are neither exhaustive nor authoritative, but rather a small insight into the noble lineage and diversity of this important term.

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25 Responses to “Bitch: Etymology and Select Typologies”

  1. thekenji Says:

    I would also like to add the numerous ways that bitch can be spelt or pronounced, further demonstrating its power and versatility:

    Biatch or Bee-atch
    Bizz-atch
    Biz-natch
    Bitz
    Bittie or Biddie
    Bish

    Or a personal fave, invented by a friend of mine:

    Be-ozzle-nich

  2. Feel-ya Says:

    Let’s not forget the pimp’s bitches ;)


  3. ahaha, that was awesome! bravo :)

  4. max Says:

    It must have been quite a night.

  5. baredfeetandteeth Says:

    “I would also like to add the numerous ways that bitch can be spelt or pronounced, further demonstrating its power and versatility:

    Biatch or Bee-atch
    Bizz-atch
    Biz-natch
    Bitz
    Bittie or Biddie
    Bish

    Or a personal fave, invented by a friend of mine:

    Be-ozzle-nich”

    I’d like to add B-ho, and Be-hotch. Generally used with affection, and falling somewhere near “Badass Bitch” but used as terms of endearment among friends.

    eg: I miss my be-hotches

  6. max Says:

    Okay. No offense brains. But, being the tragic descendent of English teachers, and let me tell you, when you tell Grandma “Fuck Harvard rules their punctuation is questionable and unambitious and also I do not approve of their thoughts on conjunctions and adverbs” —

    Well it goes bad. Real bad. But. That aside?

    Where are the verbs?

    What are you people noun nazis?

  7. w0rmwood Says:

    what about verbs?

    well there was this one i dug up in the historical definitions:

    “a verb meaning to frequent the company of lewd women (as in: Let’s go out bitching tonight)”

    As for – “Fuck Harvard rules their punctuation is questionable and unambitious and also I do not approve of their thoughts on conjunctions and adverbs.”

    I must confess, I have little use for strict rules on run on sentences, adjectives, and even conjunctions.

    I am aware of the rules, but play with them as I see fit. The primary reason i am pursuing my PhD is so that i can legitimately make up new words – not unlike “unpermissioned.”

    =)

    That having been said, if your grandma shows up to kick my ass, I will take all my come-uppins likes a real man.

  8. max Says:

    You are a brave brave man.

  9. max Says:

    [You are a man right? I am going to look real stupid if you are a woman.]


  10. “You are a man right?”

    The bearded kind even.

  11. max Says:

    Ah. Not just a man. A manly man.

    Good morning Valliant.

  12. w0rmwood Says:

    “You are a man right?”

    My wife says: sometimes.

    For Max, on the verb ‘to bitch.’

    He was tired of her bitching (to gripe), though he admitted he had bitched up (fucked up) the evening. Sure he had been out drinking and bitching (carousing) on their anniversary, but he certainly didn’t deserved to have been bitched up (beaten up).

  13. max Says:

    Oh you are a verb ninja.

  14. baredfeetandteeth Says:

    ‘“You are a man right?”

    The bearded kind even.’

    …I don’t think that was an answer. I’ve known my share of bearded ladies.


  15. Max’s grandma is going to kick Wormwood’s ass?

    She must be one hell of an old fiesty bitch.

    Excellent post, as usual.

    Thanks for using my quote, and no, this bitch don’t need no credit. I say we gather a pile of #3’s and throw one large flaming spear into the bunch and make shisk kabob and leave it on the White House lawn.


  16. Oh no, will the Secret Service come interrogate me me? I hope they send hot ones.

  17. pardenarden Says:

    let not forget
    the “bitch slap” (using the back of ones hand)
    bitch kick (kicking while your down with stilletos on)
    to bitch someone out

    theres gotta be more

  18. max Says:

    “Max’s grandma is going to kick Wormwood’s ass?”

    Well probably not, she has been gone a while, but in her day she could weild a plaid lunchbox like she was krav magda trained.

  19. thekenji Says:

    wormwood’s a man???

  20. w0rmwood Says:

    oh sure, I let you call me ‘mommy’ once when your drunk and horny and now you question my gender?

    sigh…

    given em an inch (or multiple inches) and they take a mile.

  21. engtech Says:

    give them an inch and they yearn for a mile.

  22. Ms White Says:

    This was a very good description of the etymology and usages of the word bitch. I’m a high school English teacher and through a discussion of “Incident” by Countee Cullen and the linguistics of naming, a student asked the origins of bitch, so here I am checking it out to see what resources I could send her to. Other than the OED, this site had the most accessible text for a teenager… so thanks.

  23. max Says:

    Wait. Back up. Did a high school instructor just say she is going to direct high school students [aka minors] to Beats Entropy?

    Why do I see a problem with this?


  24. Great now I’m going to jail for corruption of a minor…again.

  25. w0rmwood Says:

    I feel like the intellectual equivalent of Humbert Humbert.

    I’m just sorry that the high school students weren’t pointed to my other more pointed remarks:

    http://beatsentropy.com/2007/01/04/on-bottled-water-a-polemic/

    and

    http://beatsentropy.com/2006/08/03/on-words-sadism-meat-hooks-and-%e2%80%98geighness%e2%80%99/


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