Male equivalent of spinster ?

Vanda

Moderesa de Beagá
Português/ Brasil
Although I've read that the term spinster isn't considered so pejorative as it used to be to refer to a woman who has never married, my question has to do with the term used for an old guy who has never married. Just bachelor? Is there a term for that?
 
  • AWordLover

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hi,

    This is all about the force of societal expectations. There was a time when women were expected to get married and raise a family. Deviations from this "normal" path were met with disapproval. Times have changed (somewhat) :D!

    The pressure for men to marry was/is less. Bachelor is the term for an unmarried man (it could be divorcee, or widower in some circumstances). Context determines whether the term batchelor is used disapprovingly.
     

    Vanda

    Moderesa de Beagá
    Português/ Brasil
    Ah, I understand! So if I want to refer to a guy who wasn't able to marry because nobody wanted to marry him, (kind of stuck in his bachelor status) the context that I insert the word bachelor would give the idea, right?
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    "confirmed bachelor" is a phrase commonly used to indicate a man devoted to the single lifestyle and is often used by older single men to describe themselves. I think "single" is the common term for both sexes now.

    As for "spinster", I think it would be considered insulting by most older single women I know, just as "old maid" would be.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Ah, I understand! So if I want to refer to a guy who wasn't able to marry because nobody wanted to marry him, (kind of stuck in his bachelor status) the context that I insert the word bachelor would give the idea, right?
    I don't think "bachelor" implies that no one wants him. In fact, when I was growing up, "bachelor" had a sort of debonair, sexy connotation, something like the connotation of "player" now. I think "bachelor" is much more neutral now, and a little old-fashioned sounding. "Destined to be single" might be a phrase to indicate that he is not likely to be successful in securing a long-term relationship. :)

    On a side note, I think "spinster" and "old maid" were more common when the role was considered more permanent. It was a fixed role in the community. I think things are more fluid now and it's not assumed that someone will always be unmarried simply because they are not married at some given age.
     

    Vanda

    Moderesa de Beagá
    Português/ Brasil
    I don't think "bachelor" implies that no one wants him. In fact, when I was growing up, "bachelor" had a sort of debonair, sexy connotation, something like the connotation of "player" now. I think "bachelor" is much more neutral now, and a little old-fashioned sounding. "Destined to be single" might be a phrase to indicate that he is not likely to be successful in securing a long-term relationship. :)

    On a side note, I think "spinster" and "old maid" were more common when the role was considered more permanent. It was a fixed role in the community. I think things are more fluid now and it's not assumed that someone will always be unmarried simply because they are not married at some given age.
    I am trying to find an equivalent term for a popular expression we have for this kind of person I quoted above: didn't marry because nobody wanted to marry him or her.(I know this is outdated in our modern world, but our people like to use it in a pejorative way).
    Confirmed bachelor, as you've mentioned, would - kind of - describe it, although it doesn't give the negative conotation we use in our particular term. I think the best way is the one both of you recommended me before: insert it in the context. :)
     

    dobes

    Senior Member
    US English(Boston/NY)
    I don't think we have a term for people who are not married because nobody wants him or her. Is there really such a person? Some of the strangest people are married!
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I've been thinking a bit more about this, Vanda, and there is a little phrase we tack on to all sorts of things in American English to mean a permanent status - "for life." "He's a bachelor for life" does sound like someone who's permanently stuck in bachelor status. :)
     

    Vanda

    Moderesa de Beagá
    Português/ Brasil
    Dobes, in our culture we have very funny ways to deal with certain things. If a man or a woman only gets married long time after his/her friends - independently of the reason - we say they were "stuck". We can mean it in a derogatory or teasing way, according to the situation. If it is a friend of us, obviously we mean it to tease. In our modern world nobody cares about that anymore. :) I was looking for a word or expression to convey this concept!
    Thank you people!
     

    AWordLover

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hi,

    I did see some phrase with the meaning you want vanda.
    I can't recall what it was, "<blank> batchelor" I think, maybe unwilling or unintentional. I don't know.

    This is the right place, maybe someone will remember.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I think you've hit on it, AWordLover! I found this via Google, among many other instances of "unwilling bachelor":

    An unwilling bachelor(that means I'm looking,but not finding a woman).
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    "On the shelf" sounds very much like the equivalent of your 'stuck', Vanda. But to the best of my knowledge it was only ever used for women.

    I won't speculate on the reasons or this could turn into a very long post;)

    Loob
     
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