A bachelor is a man above the age of majority who has never been married (see single person). Unlike his female counterpart, the spinster, a bachelor may have had children. The term is restricted to men who are not in a pair bond that will produce children and are not actively seeking a long-term partner.
Research done by sociologists Richard Pitt and Elizabeth Borland sharpens the definition of bachelor to mean "men who live independently, outside of their parents' home and other institutional settings, who are neither married nor cohabitating" for just this reason. They discovered that these bachelors were more liberal in their attitudes towards women's roles in society; this was not the case for those men who were only "unmarried".
The terms confirmed bachelor or lifelong bachelor can refer to men who show little interest in marriage or other types of committed relationships, although now almost archaic due to more liberal social attitudes. These terms, as well as others such as not the marrying kind or never met the right woman are today not to be confused with gay culture, as they represent no affiliation with that lifestyle. That said, the term confirmed bachelor was a code or euphemistic term used to describe homosexual males, especially entertainers and athletes, in the era before the sexual revolution of the 1960s, when many of their fans had no idea what homosexuality was and needed a palatable explanation for why their hero was unmarried.
"Most eligible bachelor" is a generic term for a published listing of bachelors considered to be desirable marriage candidates. Usually "most eligible bachelor" lists are published on an annual basis and present listed men in a ranked order.
Etymology and historical meanings
The word is from Old French bachelier, "knight bachelor", a young squire in training, ultimately from Latin baccalaris, a very low ranking vassal . 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 (Severtius, de episcopis Lugdunen-sibus, p. 377, in du Cange).
"Bachelor" can also refer to those holding a "bachelor's degree" from a university (or a four-year college, in the American system of higher education). 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. The term baccalaureus is a pun combining the prosaic baccalarius with bacca lauri' "laurel berry"—according to the American Heritage Dictionary, "bacca" is the Old Irish word for "farmer" + laureus, "laurel berry," the idea being that a "baccalaureate" had farmed (cultivated) his mind.
The sense of "unmarried man" dates to 1385. The feminine bachelorette is from 1935, replacing earlier bachelor-girl. In 19th century American slang to bach was used as a verb meaning "to live as an unmarried man".
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) , and a colloquial term "executive bachelor" is also used in rental and sharing accommodation advertisements to indicate availability to white-collar bachelors in particular .
A number of men are notable for being famous bachelors. They include:
Benigno Aquino III, George Clooney, David Dreier, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cliff Richard, Anderson Cooper, Morrissey, Ralph Nader, Quentin Tarantino, Lindsey Graham, Anthony Michael Hall, Luther Vandross, Evo Morales, Jarosław Kaczyński, former Supreme Court Justice David Souter, Christopher Eccleston, Anthony Kiedis, Bill Maher, and Ed Koch, Indian Industrialist Ratan Tata, Former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Former Indian President and rocket scientist A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, former Prime Ministers of Canada William Lyon Mackenzie King and Richard Bedford Bennett.
Famous, lifelong bachelors from history include:
Vincent Van Gogh, King Ludwig II, James Buchanan, Thomas Aquinas, Roman Dmowski, Antonio Vivaldi, George Frideric Handel, Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms, Benny Hill, Maurice Ravel, Frederic Chopin, George Gershwin, Ludwig van Beethoven, Nicolaus Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, Christopher Hewett, Henry David Thoreau, Nikola Tesla and Leonardo Da Vinci.
- ^ Cole, David. "Note on Analyticity and the Definability of 'Bachelor'." Philosophy Department of the University of Minnesota Duluth. 1 February 1999. Accessed 14 February 2008.
- ^ Pitt, Richard and Elizabeth Borland. 2008. "Bachelorhood and Men's Attitudes about Gender Roles" The Journal of Men's Studies 16:140–158
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