Difference between bitch and hoe/ho [whore]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Ruize, Mar 9, 2011.

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  1. Ruize

    Ruize Senior Member

    Mexicali, México
    Spanish-Mexico
    Hello everybody,

    I'm student of English and would like to know if there is any difference between the words bitch and hoe. I have seen these words in song lyrics. I know that in my first language we use the same word for both. So, does one refer to one type of person the other one does not? Or can they be used interchangeably?

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011
  2. Renaissance man Senior Member

    A bitch is a derogatory term for a female, that you happen to dislike for whatever reason.

    A ho, or a hoe, would be one that you consider promiscuous.

    Note that both words are highly impolite and rather sexistic. Unless, of course, you speak of female dogs or garden tools.
     
  3. sandpiperlily

    sandpiperlily Senior Member

    I agree with Renaiisance man's interpretation... except that it's my understanding that "ho" is a shortened form of "whore" (derogatory slang for "prostitute").
     
  4. Fabulist Senior Member

    Annandale, Virginia, USA
    American English
    These words are used in vicious, often literally murderous "rap" "lyrics."

    "ho' " is an imitation of how illiterate murderous thugs say "whore" It's not spelled the same as the gardening implement.

    Whore = prostitute

    Bitch = a shrewish, quarrelsome woman.

    The vile misogynists who spew out this filfth regard all women as prostitutes and "bitches" and so use them as synonyms for "woman."

    They are obscenities, but then so is all "rap" "music."
     
  5. Humbert-Humbert

    Humbert-Humbert Junior Member

    Russian
    Could you explain in what way the word "hoe" (synonym: mattock) is offensive? I can't see any similarities with "bitch".
     
  6. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    Read posts 2, 3, and 4 above.
     
  7. sandpiperlily

    sandpiperlily Senior Member

    As Fabulist explains, the word is not actually "hoe," but "ho." It is a shortened form of the word "whore," which itself is a derogatory word for a prostitute.

    This word is offensive when used to describe a woman, because it is implying that the woman is promiscuous and therefore worthless, not worthy of respect. It's a dehumanizing word that reduces a woman to her (supposed) sexual behavior, and then insults her for it.

    As Fabulist mentions, the word often appears in rap lyrics which are otherwise demeaning to women -- and often exhibit a great deal of hypocrisy. The man might brag of sleeping with many "hos" -- he's putting down the women for being promiscuous, while bragging of his own promiscuity!

    I disagree with Fablist that all rap is misogynistic or that it is not really "music." There's a good deal of rap and hip hop out there which isn't misogynistic in nature at all, but it's harder to find on commercial radio. Likewise, you'll find that artists in a lot of other genres promote negative stereotypes about women -- take a close look at some country, pop, or rock lyrics and you'll find numerous examples. They might be less profane or violent, but they're often just as hateful.

    ...but maybe that's a little too off-topic for this thread!
     
  8. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    As has been explained, ho (not "hoe," a gardening implement) is short for whore, which means prostitute.

    Addressing a woman in that manner is considered offensive here.
     
  9. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Fabulist says it well, but is a bit kinder than I would be.

    I emphasize that such terms are more likely to be used by members of uneducated subcultures, possessing limited vocabulary, such as typified by rap "music" and which learners of English should avoid, rather than emulate.
     
  10. Ruize

    Ruize Senior Member

    Mexicali, México
    Spanish-Mexico
    Thank you for the clarification and for pointing out the offensiveness. I found both words in the lyrics of the song "Bitches Ain't Shit".

    "Bitches ain't shit but hoes and tricks"

    It's interesting because I have even heard men using the word among themselves, for example,

    Hey, you stop being a little bitch!

    So my guess is that you can use this word to refer to men too?
     
  11. Humbert-Humbert

    Humbert-Humbert Junior Member

    Russian
    I happen to notice that most of offensive words used in music videos are being muted. So how can you enjoy something like "whore" when you have such tough censors?
    By the way, is there a bit nicer way of saying "whore"?
     
  12. Fabulist Senior Member

    Annandale, Virginia, USA
    American English
    The technical or perhaps I should say legal term for a woman who engages in sex in return for money is "prostitute," and the activity is "prostitution." Unless it is literally accurate—the woman in question does in fact receive money specifically in exchange for engaging in sexual activities—it is highly offensive. There really is no "nice" way to call a woman a whore.
     
  13. sandpiperlily

    sandpiperlily Senior Member

    Well, some people in the trade often refer to themselves as "sex workers." Some find this term less insulting, as it describes their job without judgement. You wouldn't use this term as an insult to someone who wasn't actually working in the sex industry.

    This is a very interesting point. To me, the word "bitch" denotes gender transgression. You call a woman a bitch when she is acting too "manly" -- loud, forceful, assertive, etc. You call a man a bitch when he's acting too "womanly" -- whining, weak, sexually passive.

    This is one reason why I find the word "bitch" so insulting -- people use it to put people of both genders "in their place," using a vulgar word to imply that someone is exhibiting the negative traits of the "wrong" gender.
     
  14. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    We have no word police, and one CAN say anything. The problem for learners is that they usually don't have the experience to know when a context is appropriate.

    But see this previous thread:

    being someone's bitch
     
  15. Humbert-Humbert

    Humbert-Humbert Junior Member

    Russian
    Ok, but could it be then for girl that "being a bitch" is like being fun, popular, a little bit crazy and having a bad temper? Is it right?
     
  16. sandpiperlily

    sandpiperlily Senior Member

    No. Calling a woman a bitch usually means that she is mean or too assertive. It never means "fun" or "popular."

    On top of all this confusion, I'll add that some women have "reclaimed" the word, and call themselves bitches in a positive light. I'd say there are two streams of this -- one is explicitly feminist, used by women who want to celebrate being loud and assertive, refusing to be oppressed, etc. The other stream is women who have just heard the word a lot, so they'll jokingly refer to themselves and their friends as "bitches" without any political statement intended. I would definitely not recommend that any non-native speaker try to use the term this way (or any other way, really...).
     
  17. Ruize

    Ruize Senior Member

    Mexicali, México
    Spanish-Mexico
    I see, I see. Yes, I have had the chance to hear the word in both cases, and you are right, in the first case a girl working as a clerk was being rude to the costumers, and I guess one of them got tired of it and told her, "Why do you have to be such a bitch?" In the second case, this guy didn't want to play baseball (I guess he was shy or something), so one of the guys told him, "Hey, you stop being a little bitch".

    Thanks for the clarification.
     
  18. Fabulist Senior Member

    Annandale, Virginia, USA
    American English
    I suppose "bitch" as a verb for "complain" is "gender-neutral." As a noun, it's a pejorativeexcept in its original sense to describe a female dog. But the pejorative use is so widespread in the U.S. that here I think female dogs are just described as female dogs, except perhaps by dog breeders when speaking among themselves.

    Insulting words can always be used among close friends who understand each other, but, frankly, an English language learner should never, ever use bitch, ho', or any similar words unless they have been used by others first and he or she is quite sure that the intent was not hostile.
     
  19. sandpiperlily

    sandpiperlily Senior Member

    Those are perfect examples of the difference!

    I still perceive this usage as derogatory toward women. It's usually used to apply to men only when they're complaining in a particularly whiny way, about something that they should be able to tolerate. The implication, to me, is that women are bitches, and "bitching" is "complaining like a woman," which is something that is bad enough when women do it, but even worse when men do it.
     
  20. Ruize

    Ruize Senior Member

    Mexicali, México
    Spanish-Mexico
    I heard the verb to bitch referring to a group of employees in a weekly meeting. One of the employees commented in her social network site:

    "Oh, these meetings... It's always the same people bitching about the same things."

    Hope her boss didn't get the "update".
     
  21. MuttQuad

    MuttQuad Senior Member

    New York, NY
    English - AmE

    Bitching is a different animal from bitch, although it is derived from it. It almost always means complaining, particularly in a whining or otherwise unpleasant way.

    To bitch, or bitching, may be used for either men or women and has no connotation of sexual activity.
     
  22. Renaissance man Senior Member

    With all due respect -- and this is a bit off-topic -- but I don't think this is the place to make sweeping generalisations about particular music genres. Far from all rap music is obscene.
     
  23. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    I agree. I don't find use of this verb (it's used only informally) offensive or having any sexual (or gender) connotations. I understand it as MuttQuad defines it in the quote above: complaining in a whining, and often repetitive, way: "My upstairs neighbor is always bitching to the landlord about something; it's too hot, or it's too cold, or the halls aren't swept often enough, whatever. Nothing is ever right."
     
  24. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    This thread contains opinions that are personal, not linguistic.
    That is not at all surprising.
    It has also wandered far from the original topic.
    That means that the thread has deviated from WordReference norms.
    It has therefore been closed.
     
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