See more synonyms for bitch on
  1. a female dog: The bitch won first place in the sporting dogs category.
  2. a female of canines generally.
  3. Slang.
    1. a malicious, unpleasant, selfish person, especially a woman.
    2. a lewd woman.
    3. Disparaging and Offensive.any woman.
  4. Slang. a person who is submissive or subservient to someone, usually in a humiliating way: Tom is so her bitch—he never questions what she decides.
  5. Slang.
    1. a man who willingly or unwillingly submits to the will and control of a dominant partner in a sexual relationship, especially with another man, as in prison bitch: Watch out, or your cellmate will make you his prison bitch.
    2. a gay man who assumes the passive or female role in a sexual relationship.
  6. Slang.
    1. a complaint.See also bitch session.
    2. anything difficult or unpleasant: That test was a real bitch.
    3. anything memorable, especially something exceptionally good: You threw one bitch of a party last night.
verb (used without object)
  1. Slang. to complain; gripe: They bitched about the service, then about the bill.
verb (used with object)
  1. Slang. to spoil; bungle (sometimes followed by up): He bitched the job completely. You really bitched up this math problem.
  1. sit/ride bitch, to sit uncomfortably between two others in the middle of the front or back seat of a car, particularly one with a raised section in the middle resulting in being forced to bring one's knees up in a bent position: When I was young, I was the smallest, so I was always stuck sitting bitch. Please don't make me ride bitch again!

Origin of bitch

before 1000; Middle English bicche, Old English bicce; cognate with Old Norse bikkja
Related formssu·per·bitch, noun

Word story

How shocked and offended will people be if you use this word? Well, that all depends on how you are using it and what you are referring to. Originally, bitch simply meant a female dog, and it still does. But around the year 1400, it gained currency as a disparaging term for a woman, originally specifically “a lewd or sensual woman,” and then more generally “a malicious or unpleasant woman.” The word is first found used this way in the Chester Plays of the 1400's, which has the line “Who callest thou queine, skabde bitch?,” translated by one writer into modern English as “Who are you calling a whore, you miserable bitch?” By the 1800's, bitch was considered “the most offensive appellation that can be given to an English woman,” to the point where people started using euphemisms for the literal sense, such as lady dog and she dog.
But language keeps evolving, and bitch can now also be applied to a man, to a complaint, and to any difficult or unpleasant thing or situation. Used as a verb, we can talk about complaining (“bitching and moaning”), or bungling things (“bitching something up”), or riding in an uncomfortable position in a car (“sitting bitch”). When used in any of these ways, it's more slang than vulgarity, more colorful interjection than cause for offense. In fact, bitch has been reclaimed by some women as a self-referential term of empowerment. Nevertheless, care must be taken—there is a big difference between bitching about a woman and calling her a bitch! (Though it's O.K. to call her female dog that.)

Popular references

The BITCH Manifesto: Classic feminist article (1970) written by Jo Freeman under the pen name Joreen. It reclaimed the word “bitch” as a term of empowerment rather than one of abuse.
Bitch: A feminist magazine commenting on popular culture and media, founded in 1996.
—Bitch: The stage name of a politically outspoken female rock vocalist/violinist and actress.
Skinny Bitch: A diet book (2005) written by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin.
No One's the Bitch: A book (2009), website, and forum that supports mother and stepmother relationships. Started by Jennifer Newcomb Marine and Carol Marine.
—Stitch 'n Bitch: A network of groups of people who knit and crochet.
Related Quotations
  • "The rogues slighted me into the river with as little remorse as they would have drowned a bitch's blind puppies."
    -Falstaff William Shakespeare Merry Wives of Windsor, act III, scene V (1602)
  • "We're all nervous as a wolf bitch in heat."
    -Paul Engle ed. H. J. Duteil The Last Whiskey Cup The Great American Parade (1935)
  • "He's my bitch, and when he says my name, we just sell that many more records."
    -David Lee Roth, talking about Sammy Hagar Ian Christe Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga (2007)
  • "I liked the idea of having me a kept senator. You might say he's my bitch."
    -Stanford Diehl Angel in the Front Room, Devil Out Back (2001)
  • "Sometimes you just have to stop and bitch about the roses."
    -Man to woman, in a cartoon by Christopher Weyant The New Yorker (December 20, 2004) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bitch

Contemporary Examples of bitch

Historical Examples of bitch

  • The Wolf stay'd till he had almost loaded again, but the Bitch making a great Noise, at last left us and went aside.

  • Bitch, ram, buck and sow went the same way, and there was a day when even mare was prohibited.

    The American Language

    Henry L. Mencken

British Dictionary definitions for bitch


  1. a female dog or other female canine animal, such as a wolf
  2. offensive, slang a malicious, spiteful, or coarse woman
  3. slang a complaint
  4. slang a difficult situation or problem
  5. slang a person who acts as a subordinate or slave to another person
verb informal
  1. (intr) to complain; grumble
  2. to behave (towards) in a spiteful or malicious manner
  3. (tr, often foll by up) to botch; bungle

Word Origin for bitch

Old English bicce
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for bitch

Old English bicce "female dog," probably from Old Norse bikkjuna "female of the dog" (also fox, wolf, and occasionally other beasts), of unknown origin. Grimm derives the Old Norse word from Lapp pittja, but OED notes that "the converse is equally possible." As a term of contempt applied to women, it dates from c.1400; of a man, c.1500, playfully, in the sense of "dog." Used among male homosexuals from 1930s. In modern (1990s, originally black English) slang, its use with reference to a man is sexually contemptuous, from the "woman" insult.

BITCH. A she dog, or doggess; the most offensive appellation that can be given to an English woman, even more provoking than that of whore. ["Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1811]

Bitch goddess coined 1906 by William James; the original one was success.


"to complain," attested at least from 1930, perhaps from the sense in bitchy, perhaps influenced by the verb meaning "to bungle, spoil," which is recorded from 1823. But bitched in this sense seems to echo Middle English bicched "cursed, bad," a general term of opprobrium (e.g. Chaucer's bicched bones "unlucky dice"), which despite the hesitation of OED, seems to be a derivative of bitch (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper