Spinster ?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Kathe19, Nov 22, 2008.

  1. Kathe19 Senior Member

    Polish
    Hi,

    is 'spinster' a negative word ? If so, what would be a neutral word for an unmarried woman ? I don't want to use 'unmarried woman' because I need only one word.
     
  2. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    "Spinster" has decided negative connotations, just as "old maid" does. Unfortunately, there is not any real single-word equivalent. I suppose you can say "bachelorette", but it is more than a little silly. There is no "negative" word for bachelor, as traditionally a man who remained unmarried was not subjected to the same social scorn as a woman who did not marry; an unmarried man would have been thought to be unmarried by choice, but an unmarried woman might be presumed to be unmarried because no one thought her worth a proposal!
     
  3. Kathe19 Senior Member

    Polish
    Don't you know any slang expression ? ;)
     
  4. Cagey post mod

    California
    English - US
    An unmarried man or woman may be described as "single", but that is an adjective, not a noun. "At the age of thirty she was single and happy with her life."
     
  5. Kathe19 Senior Member

    Polish
    Actually, I urgently need either a negative word for a bachelor or a neutral word for a spinster (one word).

    This is because I have to match two synonyms with different undertones:

    bachelor --- x
    x ------- spinster
     
  6. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    While you may want two such words, and want them urgently, that does not mean that they exist.
     
  7. Kathe19 Senior Member

    Polish
    It's rather implausible, but anyway I'll try to do without it.

    Thanks !
     
  8. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    Why is it implausible that there is not a one-word negative equivalent for "bachelor", or a non-negative, one-word equivalent for "spinster"? Doesn't the fact that the common phrases have more than one word suggest the plausibility of this idea?
     
  9. Kathe19 Senior Member

    Polish
    I guess there must be some slang or archaic expression. I'm not 100% sure, but still it's rather probable.
     
  10. b1947420 Senior Member

    If someone referred to a lady as a "Miss" it would mean to me that she was not married.
    This would not necessarily mean that she was young.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2008
  11. Cagey post mod

    California
    English - US
  12. Wilma_Sweden

    Wilma_Sweden Moderatös

    Lund, Sweden
    Swedish (Scania)
    I didn't realise that spinster had negative connotations. As late as 1985, a UK marriage license would assign the term spinster to the female counterpart if previously unmarried, regardless of her age.

    To be honest, there seem to be plenty of terms relating to unmarried men and women likewise, although most of them are not necessarily single nouns (misogamist), some of them are adjectives, and some are whole phrases. I love this one the most: the answer to a maiden's prayer (=an eligible bachelor) :D

    In Swedish we may refer to women as being on the glass mountain, meaning that they're on the shelf (= without prospects of marrying).

    I think the most neutral term today (also gender-neutral) is single, and I like that term, together with Ms. as a title.

    /Wilma
     

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