confirmed bachelor

[kuh n-furmd bach-ler]

What does confirmed bachelor mean?

RELATED WORDS

He never intends to put a ring on anything. Ever. A confirmed bachelor is a "man who never intends to marry." It has also been used as an offensive euphemism for a gay man.

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Examples of confirmed bachelor

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Examples of confirmed bachelor

Confirmed bachelor George Clooney: Has he met his match?

Alan Duke, CNN (headline), April 2014  
Doctor Who, the worlds oldest 'confirmed bachelor' has regenerated into a trans woman. Amazing & about time.
@stereogamous, July 2017
Vic Lee / Pardon My Planet

Where does confirmed bachelor come from?

WOVOW

A bachelor is an unmarried man. A confirmed bachelor is one who intends to remain that way forever—he’s settled on it, he’s resolute, he’s confirmed.

The phrase confirmed bachelor became popular during the Victorian era, when it was used primarily to describe men who disliked or avoided women. The Christian Examiner, for instance, used the phrase in 1843 for a “solitary, melancholic, and monkish man.”

Another early use of the phrase was in an 1863 court trial where a man was accused of pursuing another man’s fiancée. The defendant styled himself a confirmed bachelor, claiming he had no interest in women, and that his “wife” was the armchair in the men’s club he was a member of.

By the end of the 19th century, a confirmed bachelor began to refer to men who didn’t want to be “trapped” by marriage to a woman. An 1892 article in the British magazine Pick-Me-Up humorously noted that a confirmed bachelor‘s “idea of ever getting married is quite too absurd for anything.”

By the mid-20th century, confirmed bachelor was being used as a euphemism for “gay man.” American and British newspaper obituaries at this time—when men largely remained closeted due to stigmas against homosexuality–used language like never married or confirmed bachelor instead of terms such as “homosexual.”

This euphemism persisted into the late 20th-century, early 21st centuries even with the greater visibility and acceptance of LGBTQ people and social issues. Writing for The Independent in 1994, Helen Fielding lamented the use of the word bachelor, both as a euphemism for homosexuality and for shaming people’s decision not to marry.

In a 2011 article for the magazine Out, editor Aaron Hicklin explained that terms like confirmed bachelor imply that homosexuality is shameful—why else conceal it?

The phrase confirmed bachelor was notably used in the 2017 film The Phantom Thread, where famed dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) describes himself as a confirmed bachelor, married only to his art (though also complicating his sexuality).

Who uses confirmed bachelor?

In the 21st century, confirmed bachelor has widely returned to its early meaning of a heterosexual man who, for whatever reason, will likely never marry. It’s popularly used of older, attractive men seen as marriage material but who remain single.

Some instances of confirmed bachelor embrace the status as a choice.

Others take a more self-deprecating tone, as if the man has resigned himself to being perennially single.

This is not to say  that confirmed bachelor has shed its baggage.

Many instances of confirmed bachelor are knowing or ironic, calling up the hurtful, “say without saying” history of the term.

 

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