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For other uses, see Bachelor (disambiguation).

A bachelor is a man who is neither married nor cohabitating and who lives independently outside of his parents' home or other institutional setting.[1]

Origin and medieval usage[edit]

The word is from Anglo-Norman bacheler (later suffixal change to bachelier; cf. escolier "student", from earlier escoler), a young squire in training. The ultimate source of the word is uncertain, it may be from Medieval Latin baccalari(u)s "vassal farmer" or "farm hand" (cf. Provençal bacalar, Tuscan bacalaro "squire"), i.e. one who tends a baccalaria, a term for a grazing farm (from bacca "cow"),[2] or it may be from Latin baculum "a stick" (as the knight-in-training would practice with a wooden club before receiving his sword).[3]

The Old French term crossed into English around 1300, referring to one belonging to the lowest stage of knighthood. Knights bachelor were either poor vassals who could not afford to take the field under their own banner, or knights too young to support the responsibility and dignity of knights banneret.

From the 14th century, the term was also used for a junior member of a guild (otherwise known as "yeomen") or university; hence, an ecclesiastic of an inferior grade, for example, a young monk or even recently appointed canon;[4] and also an inferior grade in scholarship, i.e. one holding a "bachelor's degree" In this sense the word baccalarius or baccalaureus first appears at the University of Paris in the 13th century, in the system of degrees established under the auspices of Pope Gregory IX, as applied to scholars still in statu pupillari. Thus there were two classes of baccalarii: the baccalarii cursores, theological candidates passed for admission to the divinity course; and the baccalarii dispositi, who, having completed this course, were entitled to proceed to the higher degrees.

Use for "unmarried man" in the 19th and 20th centuries[edit]

Further information: spinster and nubile

In the Victorian era, the term eligible bachelor was used in the context of upper class matchmaking, denoting a young man who was not only unmarried and eligible for marriage, but also considered "eligible" in financial and societal terms for the prospective bride under discussion. Also in the Victorian era, the term "confirmed bachelor" denoted a man who was resolute to remain unmarried.

By the later 19th century, the term "bachelor" had acquired the general sense of "unmarried man". The expression bachelor party is recorded 1882. In 1895, a feminine equivalent "bachelor-girl" was coined, replaced in US English by the somewhat humorous "bachelorette" by the mid-1930s. After World War II, this terminology came to be seen as antiquated, and has been mostly replaced by the gender-neutral term "single" (first recorded 1964). In England and Wales, the term "bachelor" remained the official term used for the purpose of marriage registration until 2005, when it was abolished in favour of "single."[5]

In certain Gulf Arab countries, "bachelor" can refer to men who are single as well as immigrant men married to a spouse residing in their country of origin (due to the high added cost of sponsoring a spouse onsite),[6] and a colloquial term "executive bachelor" is also used in rental and sharing accommodation advertisements to indicate availability to white-collar bachelors in particular.[7]

Historical examples of bachelors (men who never married)[edit]

(chronologically, by date of birth)

    Ancient Period    Medieval Period, Renaissance, and Early EnlightenmentLate Enlightenment and Modern Period
Gorgias[8]da Vinci[9]Handel[10]
Augustine[26] Galileo[27]Kant[28]
 Bayle[41] Kierkegaard[42]
  Van Gogh[47]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "men who live independently, outside of their parents' home and other institutional settings, who are neither married nor cohabitating" Pitt, Richard and Elizabeth Borland. 2008. "Bachelorhood and Men's Attitudes about Gender Roles" The Journal of Men's Studies 16:140–158
  2. ^ Middle Latin meanings: Du Cange (1733), 906-912.
  3. ^ etymological discussion, with references: Uwe Friedrich Schmidt, Praeromanica Der Italoromania Auf Der Grundlage Des LEI (A und B), Europäische Hochschulschriften 49, 9: Italienische Sprache und Literatur, Peter Lang, 2009, 117-120.
  4. ^ Severtius, de episcopis Lugdunen-sibus, p. 377, in du Cange.
  5. ^ "R.I.P Bachelors and Spinsters". BBC. 14 September 2005. Retrieved 8 April 2013. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ W.K.C. Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy, Vol. III (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), 36.
  9. ^ Joseph Thomas, M.D., Universal Pronouncing Dictionary of Biography and Mythology, Vol. II (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1908), 2396.
  10. ^ Victor Schoelcher, The Life of Handel, Vol. II (London: Robert Cocks & Co., 1857), 380.
  11. ^ William Leist Readwin Cates, A Dictionary of General Biography (London: Spottiswoode and Co., 1875), 890.
  12. ^ Virgil McClure Harris, Ancient, Curious and Famous Wills (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1911), 120.
  13. ^ Hubert Marshall Skinner, The Schoolmaster in Comedy and Satire (New York: American Book Company, 1894), 129.
  14. ^ Bernard Frischer, The Sculpted Word: Epicureanism and Philosophical Recruitment in Ancient Greece (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982), 63.
  15. ^ Thomas W. Becker, Eight Against the World: Warriors of the Scientific Revolution (Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2007), 17.
  16. ^ Ian Davidson, Voltaire in Exile (London: Atlantic Books, 2004), 14.
  17. ^ John Hazel, Who's Who in the Roman World (London: Routledge, 2001), 140.
  18. ^ Emma Louise Parry, The Two Great Art Epochs (Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co., 1914), 210.
  19. ^ Tucker McElroy, Ph.D., A to Z of Mathematicians (New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2005), 25.
  20. ^ Arthur Kenyon Rogers, The Life and Teachings of Jesus (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1894), 270.
  21. ^ Todd Timmons, Makers of Western Science (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2012), 52.
  22. ^ Nicholas Phillipson, David Hume: The Philosopher as Historian (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), 12.
  23. ^ William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D. (Editor), A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines (London: John Murray, 1887), 485.
  24. ^ Thomas W. Becker, Eight Against the World: Warriors of the Scientific Revolution (Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2007), 17.
  25. ^ John Rae, Life of Adam Smith (London: Macmillan & Co., 1895), 213.
  26. ^ Bradley G. Green (Editor), Shapers of Christian Orthodoxy (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010), 236.
  27. ^ Mary Allan-Olney, The Private Life of Galileo (Boston: Nichols and Noyes, 1870), 75.
  28. ^ Friedrich Paulsen, Immanuel Kant, His Life and Doctrine (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1902), 26.
  29. ^ Henry Smith Williams, The Historians' History of the World, Vol. 11 (London: Kooper and Jackson, Ltd., 1909), 638.
  30. ^ Elbert Hubbard, Little Journeys to the Homes of Famous Women (New York: William H. Wise & Co., 1916), 165.
  31. ^ Terrence E. Cook, The Great Alternatives of Social Thought: Aristocrat, Saint, Capitalist, Socialist (Savage, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1991), 97.
  32. ^ H.A. Rudall, Beethoven (London: Sampson, Low, Marston and Company, 1903), 28.
  33. ^ George Bancroft, History of the United States of America, Vol. 1 (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1916), 561.
  34. ^ August Bebel, Woman in the Past, Present and Future (San Francisco: International Publishing Co., 1897), 58.
  35. ^ Richard Francks, Modern Philosophy: The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (London: Routledge, 2003), 59.
  36. ^ Dr. Heinrich Kreissle von Hellborn, Franz Schubert: A Musical Biography [abridged], trans. by Edward Wilberforce (London: William H. Allen & Co., 1866), 64.
  37. ^ Joseph Thomas, M.D., Universal Pronouncing Dictionary of Biography and Mythology, Vol. II (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1908), 1814.
  38. ^ Tad Szulc, Chopin in Paris: The Life and Times of the Romantic Composer (Da Capo Press, 2000), 61.
  39. ^ David S. Kidder, The Intellectual Devotional Biographies: Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education, and Acquaint Yourself with the World's Greatest Personalities (New York: Rodale, Inc., 2010), 6.
  40. ^ John C. Tibbetts, Schumann - A Chorus of Voices (Amadeus Press, 2010), 146.
  41. ^ Karl C. Sandberg, At the Crossroads of Faith and Reason: An Essay on Pierre Bayle (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1966), vii.
  42. ^ Martin Buber, "The Question to the Single One," from Søren Kierkegaard: Critical Assessments of Leading Philosophers, edited by Daniel W. Conway (London: Routledge, 2002), 45.
  43. ^ Hamilton Wright Mabie, Noble Living and Grand Achievement: Giants of the Republic (Philadelphia: John C. Winston & Co., 1896), 665.
  44. ^ William Henry Hudson, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Herbert Spencer (London: Watts & Co., 1904), 23.
  45. ^ William Lines Hubbard (Editor), American History and Encyclopedia of Music, Musical Biographies, Vol. 1 (New York: Irving Squire, 1910), 97.
  46. ^ Paul Crumbley, Student's Encyclopedia of Great American Writers, Vol. II, 1830-1900 (New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2010), 305.
  47. ^ Nathalie Heinich, The Glory of Van Gogh: An Anthropology of Admiration, trans. by Paul Leduc Brown (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), 85.
  48. ^ William Mackintire Salter, Nietzsche the Thinker: A Study (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1917), 7.
  49. ^ Daniel S. Burt, The Literary 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Novelists, Playwrights, and Poets of All Time, Revised Edition (New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2009), 116.
  50. ^ Margaret Cheney, Tesla: Master of Lightning (Metrobooks/Barnes & Noble, 1999), preface p. vi.
  51. ^ Arthur Coleman Danto, Jean-Paul Sartre (Minneapolis: Viking Press, 1975), 166.

External links[edit]