For other uses, see Bachelor (disambiguation).

A bachelor is a man who is socially regarded as able to marry, but has not yet.[n 1]

It is also the title of anyone of any gender or marital status who holds a bachelor's degree.


The word is first attested as the 12th-century bacheler, a knight bachelor, a knight too young or poor to gather vassals under his own banner.[2] The Old French bacheler presumably derives from Provençal bacalar and Italian baccalare,[2] but the ultimate source of the word is uncertain.[3][2] The proposed Medieval Latin *baccalaris ("vassal", "field hand") is only attested late enough that it may have derived from the vernacular languages,[2] rather than from the southern French and northern Spanish Latin[3] baccalaria ("cattle ranch", from bacca, "cow").[4] Alternatively, it has been derived from Latin baculum ("a stick"), in reference to the wooden sticks used by knights in training.[n 2]

From the 14th century, the term was also used for a junior member of a guild (otherwise known as "yeomen") or university and then for low-level ecclesiastics, as young monks and recently appointed canons.[7] As an inferior grade of scholarship, it came to refer to one holding a "bachelor's degree". This sense of baccalarius or baccalaureus is first attested 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. There were two classes of baccalarii: the baccalarii cursores, theological candidates passed for admission to the divinity course, and the baccalarii dispositi, who had completed the course and were entitled to proceed to the higher degrees.

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 social 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 "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 favor of "single."[9]

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),[10] and a colloquial term "executive bachelor" is also used in rental and sharing accommodation advertisements to indicate availability to white-collar bachelors in particular.[11]


Bachelors have been subject to penal laws in many countries, most notably in Ancient Sparta and Rome.[3] At Sparta, men unmarried after a certain age were subject to various penalties (Greek: ἀτιμία, atimía): they were forbidden to watch women's gymnastics; during the winter, they were made to march naked through the agora singing a song about their dishonor;[3] and they were not provided with the traditional respect due to the elderly.[12] Some Athenian laws were similar.[13] Bachelors in Rome fell under the Lex Julia of 18 BC and the Lex Papia et Poppaea of AD 9: these lay heavy fines on unmarried or childless people while providing certain privileges to those with several children.[3] In Britain, taxes occasionally fell heavier on bachelors than other persons: examples include 6 & 7 Will. III, the 1785 Tax on Servants, and the 1798 Income Tax.[3] Over time, some punishments developed into no more than a teasing game. In some parts of Germany, for instance, men who were still unmarried by their 30th birthday were made to sweep the stairs of the town hall until kissed by a "virgin".

Men Who Never Married

Listed chronologically by date of birth.

    Ancient Period     Medieval Period, Renaissance, and Early Enlightenment Late Enlightenment, Modern, and Post-modern
Jeremiah[14] Aquinas Vivaldi
HeraclitusPetrarch[15] Handel[16]
Gorgias[17]da Vinci[18] Pope[19]
Democritus[20] Erasmus[21] Voltaire[22]
Plato[23] Copernicus[24] Bayes[25]
Epicurus[26] Raphael[27] Hume[28]
Horace[29] Gilbert[30] d'Alembert[31]
Jesus[32] Brahe[33] Smith[34]
Epictetus[35] Galileo[36] Kant[37]
Plotinus[38] Hobbes[39] Gibbon[40]
Augustine[41]  Descartes[42] Fourier[43]
  Pascal[44] Beethoven[45]
  Boyle[46] Lewis[47]
  Huygens[48] Schopenhauer[49]
  Locke[50] Buchanan [51]
  Spinoza[52] Schubert[53]
  Hooke[54] Chopin[55]
  Newton[56] Liszt[57]
  Leibniz[58] Kierkegaard[59]
    Bayle[60] Spencer[61]
    Van Gogh[67]

See also


  1. Bachelors are, in Pitt & al.'s phrasing, "men who live independently, outside of their parents' home and other institutional settings, who are neither married nor cohabitating".[1]
  2. For further etymological discussion, with sources, see Schmidt,[5] reprinted by Lang.[6]


  1. Pitt, Richard; et al. (2008), "Bachelorhood and Men's Attitudes about Gender Roles", The Journal of Men's Studies, Vol. 16, pp. 140–158.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Oxford English Dictionary, 1st ed. "[ bachelor, n.]" Oxford University Press (Oxford), 1885.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 EB (1878).
  4. 1 2 Du Cange, Charles du Fresne, sieur (1733), ?, pp. 906–912
  5. Schmidt, Uwe Friedrich, Praeromanica der Italoromania auf der Grundlage des LEI (A und B), Europäische Hochschulschriften; Vol. 49, No. 9. (German)
  6. Schmidt, Uwe Friedrich (2009), "Praeromanica der Italoromania auf der Grundlage des LEI (A und B)", Italienische Sprache und Literatur, Peter Lang, pp. 117–120. (German)
  7. Severtius,[8] cited in Du Cange.[4]
  8. Severtius, De Episcopis Lugdunensibus, p. 377
  9. "R.I.P Bachelors and Spinsters". BBC. 14 September 2005. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
  10. "Hundreds of 'bachelors' crammed in squalid and dilapidated buildings". 2009-05-03. Retrieved 2015-11-25.
  11. Plutarch, Lyc., 15.
  12. Schomann, Gr. Alterth., Vol. I, 548.
  13. Willis, Timothy M. Jeremiah – Lamentations (The College Press NIV Commentary) (College Press Publishing Co., 2002), 122.
  14. Targoff, Ramie. Posthumous Love: Eros and the Afterlife in Renaissance England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014), 59.
  15. Schoelcher, Victor. The Life of Handel, Vol. II (London: Robert Cocks & Co., 1857), 380.
  16. Guthrie, W. K. C. A History of Greek Philosophy, Vol. III (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), 36.
  17. Thomas, Joseph, M.D. Universal Pronouncing Dictionary of Biography and Mythology, Vol. II (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1908), 2396.
  18. Skinner, Hubert Marshall. The Schoolmaster in Comedy and Satire (New York: American Book Company, 1894), 129.
  19. Leigh, Aston. The Story of Philosophy (London: Trubner & Co., 1881), 31.
  20. Harris, Virgil McClure. Ancient, Curious and Famous Wills (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1911), 120.
  21. Davidson, Ian. Voltaire in Exile (London: Atlantic Books, 2004), 14.
  22. Cates, William Leist Readwin. A Dictionary of General Biography (London: Spottiswoode and Co., 1875), 890.
  23. Becker, Thomas W. Eight Against the World: Warriors of the Scientific Revolution (Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2007), 17.
  24. McElroy, Tucker, Ph.D. A to Z of Mathematicians (New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2005), 25.
  25. Frischer, Bernard. The Sculpted Word: Epicureanism and Philosophical Recruitment in Ancient Greece (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982), 63.
  26. Parry, Emma Louise. The Two Great Art Epochs (Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co., 1914), 210.
  27. Phillipson, Nicholas. David Hume: The Philosopher as Historian (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), 12.
  28. Hazel, John. Who's Who in the Roman World (London: Routledge, 2001), 140.
  29. Timmons, Todd. Makers of Western Science (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2012), 52.
  30. Anderson, John D. A History of Aerodynamics and Its Impact on Flying Machines (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 44.
  31. Rogers, Arthur Kenyon. The Life and Teachings of Jesus (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1894), 270.
  32. Becker, Thomas W. Eight Against the World: Warriors of the Scientific Revolution (Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2007), 17.
  33. Rae, John. Life of Adam Smith (London: Macmillan & Co., 1895), 213.
  34. Lucian, Demoxan, c. 55, torn, ii., Hemsterh (Editor), p. 393, as quoted in A Selection from the Discourses of Epictetus With the Encheiridion (2009), p. 6.
  35. Allan-Olney, Mary. The Private Life of Galileo (Boston: Nichols and Noyes, 1870), 75.
  36. Paulsen, Friedrich. Immanuel Kant, His Life and Doctrine (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1902), 26.
  37. Smith, William, D.C.L., LL.D. (Editor). A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines (London: John Murray, 1887), 485.
  38. Malcolm, Noel (Editor). The Correspondence of Thomas Hobbes, Vol. I (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 191.
  39. Hubbard, Elbert. Little Journeys to the Homes of Famous Women (New York: William H. Wise & Co., 1916), 165.
  40. Green, Bradley G. (Editor). Shapers of Christian Orthodoxy (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010), 236.
  41. Williams, Henry Smith. The Historians' History of the World, Vol. XI (London: Kooper and Jackson, Ltd., 1909), 638.
  42. Hawking, Stephen (Editor). God Created the Integers: The Mathematical Breakthroughs that Changed History (Philadelphia: Running Press Book Publishers, 2007), 526.
  43. Cook, Terrence E. The Great Alternatives of Social Thought: Aristocrat, Saint, Capitalist, Socialist (Savage, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1991), 97.
  44. Rudall, H.A. Beethoven (London: Sampson, Low, Marston and Company, 1903), 28.
  45. Owen, William (Editor). A New and General Biographical Dictionary, Volume II (London: W. Strahan, 1784), 371.
  46. Sterling, Keir B. Biographical Dictionary of American and Canadian Naturalists and Environmentalists (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997), 465.
  47. Bos, Henk J. M. Lectures in the History of Mathematics (American Mathematical Society, 1993), 63.
  48. Bebel, August. Woman in the Past, Present and Future (San Francisco: International Publishing Co., 1897), 58.
  49. Bancroft, George. History of the United States of America, Vol. I (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1916), 561.
  50. "James Buchanan". Retrieved 2015-11-25.
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  52. von Hellborn, Dr. Heinrich Kreissle. Franz Schubert: A Musical Biography [abridged], trans. by Edward Wilberforce (London: William H. Allen & Co., 1866), 64.
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  54. Szulc, Tad. Chopin in Paris: The Life and Times of the Romantic Composer (Da Capo Press, 2000), 61.
  55. Thomas, Joseph, M.D. Universal Pronouncing Dictionary of Biography and Mythology, Vol. II (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1908), 1814.
  56. Tibbetts, John C. Schumann – A Chorus of Voices (Amadeus Press, 2010), 146.
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  60. Hudson, William Henry. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Herbert Spencer (London: Watts & Co., 1904), 23.
  61. Mabie, Hamilton Wright. Noble Living and Grand Achievement: Giants of the Republic (Philadelphia: John C. Winston & Co., 1896), 665.
  62. Hubbard, William Lines (Editor), American History and Encyclopedia of Music, Musical Biographies, Vol. 1 (New York: Irving Squire, 1910), 97.
  63. Joesten, Castellion, and Hogg. The World of Chemistry: Essentials, 4th Ed. (Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole, 2007), 25.
  64. Growe, Bernd. Degas (Cologne: Taschen GmbH, 2001), 35.
  65. Crumbley, Paul. Student's Encyclopedia of Great American Writers, Vol. II, 1830–1900 (New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2010), 305.
  66. Heinich, Nathalie. The Glory of Van Gogh: An Anthropology of Admiration, trans. by Paul Leduc Brown (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), 85.
  67. Salter, William Mackintire. Nietzsche the Thinker: A Study (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1917), 7.
  68. Cheney, Margaret. Tesla: Master of Lightning (Metrobooks/Barnes & Noble, 1999), preface p. vi.
  69. Crouch, Tom D. The Bishop's Boys: A Life of Wilbur and Orville Wright (W. W. Norton & Company, 2003)
  70. Burt, Daniel S. 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.
  71. Danto, Arthur Coleman. Jean-Paul Sartre (Minneapolis: Viking Press, 1975), 166.
  72. Konieczny, Vladimir. Struggling for Perfection: The Story of Glenn Gould (Toronto: Napoleon Publishing, 2004), 46.

External links

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