How to Use the Word Bitch (13 Different Ways)

Bitch Please Thumbnail

The Popular “Bitch Please” Meme

Let’s forget about the formal applications of English for one day and take a walk on the wild side and talk about bad words.

Today we’re going to explore the word BITCH, which, without a doubt, is all over the place in the English language in all its elaborate uses. However, it’s not as simple as you might think. 

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BITCH. It’s a powerful word, it can be used as a noun, verb or adjective, and it’s almost universally misunderstood by non-native English speakers. It can be playful, sexual or violent.  It can be offensive, neutral, and even used to empower woman. But in 95% of the cases, “Bitch” does not translate to “Prostitute.” Wikipedia says:

The word “bitch“, literally meaning a female dog, is a common slang term in the English language, especially used as a denigrating term applied to a person, commonly a woman. It often refers to someone who is belligerent, unreasonable, rudely intrusive or aggressive. (see continuation of this on “History of Bitch” below)

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Let’s dive in. Here is how BITCH is used:

Bitch Almost Never Means “Prostitute”:

  • Contrary to what most people believe, the translation of “son of a bitch” does not represent how native speakers use the word bitch in other situations. Even in “son of a bitch,” the expression doesn’t make one think of mother or woman in the same way that it’s translated in Spanish and Portuguese (“hijo de puta/ filho de puta”).
  • The only exception to this is in American ganster rap music, which uses the word “bitch” in a much more derogative way (prostitute), often referring to women as “bitches and hoes” (hoe means prostitute). More on this below

Bitch Literally Means Female Dog. There’s nothing really to explain here. It’s quite literal and this is probably the only non-colloquial use of the word.

Calling a Woman a Bitch (3 different meanings):

  • An annoying/ unpleasant woman: It’s definitely not polite to call a woman a bitch, but in most cases, it’s not as bad as “whore.”  For example: (a) He didn’t leave a tip at the restaurant because he said that his waitress WAS A BITCH. (b) I don’t know what’s wrong with her. She’s BEING A BITCH.

Note: “She is a bitch” (permanent) is much more offensive than saying “she is being a bitch” (temporary state). All the same, to call a woman a bitch is never nice, so watch your mouth.

  • Unified BitchA Prostitute: Rap music seems to be the only context where “bitch” means “prostitute.”  Rap music’s use of “bitch” is a controversial, complicated issue which I’m not going to even try to explore right now.

In my opinion, rap music, in general, demonstrates totally inappropriate treatment of women that nobody should imitate.  At any rate, have a look at the “unified bitch theory “ mind map by famous rappers, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. 

  • An Empowered Woman: An emerging feminist definition that is becoming more common these days:  “In a feminist context, it can indicate a strong or assertive woman, one who might make men feel threatened.” Check out this popular Meredith Brooks Song, “bitch” which demonstrates exactly this.

Calling a Man a Bitch 

This is often playful, but can be mildly offensive. It means that the man is subservient, that he does everything for another person, and has compromised his dignity. You often use the possessive adjective. For example: I do everything for my boss. My friends at work tell me that I’M HIS BITCH. Sometimes people say “he’s being a little bitch” to communicate that he’s extremely unpleasant, not easy to deal with.

As an Adjective: Bitchy

You can call a man or a woman a bitch (with different meanings, as described in 3 and 4), but the word bitchy (applied to both men and women) has the sense of “annoying” or “unpleasant.” For example: You’re being really bitchy today. Why can’t you be nicer to me? This is still not very polite language and would probably be offensive.

quit your bitchinBitch as a Verb (Complain)

In this colloquial use of the word, “bitch” means “complain.”  It is often used together with “moan” (cry in a very lamenting way) to negatively portray someone (or yourself) who is complaining too much. This use is not really offensive (depending on the tone) and can be used informal situations. For example: I wish people would just stop BITCHING AND MOANING about corruption in politics and do something about it.

Bitch Someone Out

means to yell at someone in a really negative way for something they did. For example: My boss BITCHED ME OUT for being 10 minutes late. To use this expression is not offensive, but language is very colloquial.

Bitchin’ as an Adjective

This means that something is good, awesome, cool, etc. Don’t confuse this with bitchy (explained above).

For example: The Real Life English party was BITCHIN’! Following the rules of grammar would make this “bitching ” but we say “bitchin.” This is another colloquial expression that isn’t negative.

Life’s a Bitch

A common way to communicate that life is complicated, not easy, etc. The expression has this sense of confronting the difficulties, but also recognizing the unpleasant nature. Other examples of this use are: Calculus is a BITCH. Monday morning is a BITCH.

Bitch Please!

This expression (see picture below) communicates that you don’t believe what the person says. Urban Dictionary defines it as follows: Used when someone/tool makes a stupid comment, or just as a fun way of saying no. This is a common colloquial expression which originated in the ghettos and has reached mainstream middle class American society. People often use this colloquially in a playful way (the title of this article), but as Urban Dictionary points out because of the origin of “bitch please” amongst inner-city prostitution rings, it always carries a connotation of violence. 

Bitchslap

This is to “slap” somebody with the back of your hand in order to calm the person down and make them see things straight.  This is another use of “bitch” that originated in the ghettos and was popularized by rap music and black culture. People often use this term in a playful way.

To Ride Bitch in the Car

To ride in the middle of the back seat of the car.

Did Shakespeare Invent the Word BITCH?

A Brief History of the Word Bitch (from wikipedia)

  • Son of a bitch was first recorded in England in 1712, ‘bitch’ (Old English ‘bicce’) having meant female dog since before the 10th century, and an immoral woman since the 15th.
  • By the 1780s ‘son of a bitch’ was one of the most offensive and common American insults.
  • It’s been a “general term of abuse, dating from at least the time of Shakespeare. ‘son and heir of a mongrel bitch.’ King Lear, II, ii. 
  • Its original use as a vulgarism, documented to the fourteenth century, suggested high sexual desire in a woman, comparable to a dog in heat

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This is the first post in the The Art of Swearing in English series. It’s a delicate topic, but it needs to be addressed, and learners of English should be educated as to the proper use of these words (and the cultural context).

Just to be clear, we’re not promoting the irresponsible use of swear words. Much to the contrary, we think that if you are going to swear, you should have a high degree of awareness as to what you are communicating and the effect it has on people around you. Even if you have an intellectual understanding of how to swear, it doesn’t give you the deeply culturally conditioned reaction that natives have. They grew up in their families learning what was appropriate or not.

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31 Comments

  1. […]                                                          Read this article in English […]

  2. Husy CH on January 13, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    LOl

    • Brando on August 14, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      Why did I search this up?

  3. hesam on January 14, 2013 at 4:49 am

    tnx.it was awsome

  4. Yong R. De Asis on January 24, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Ow Bitches!

  5. nairafuzessy on March 10, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    bitch in the context of the song seems to me more as one more attribution for a woman showing that she can be different types of a woman at the same time, so all of these attributions, including being a bitch (acting like a prostitute privatly with the person she cares about) make her powerful, and not the word bitch itself.

    • Justin on March 11, 2013 at 10:39 am

      You’re absolutely right, Naira! That’s it!

  6. Amanda Kim on April 4, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    I'm learing about Bitch xP.

  7. Alicia Sosa de Sánchez on April 24, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    interesting

  8. Edson on June 28, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    That was a totally bitching explanation, now all this bitches can stop bitching everybody with this “bitch” word or i’ll bitchslap them all.

    Is it right?LOL

    • Justin on June 28, 2013 at 5:50 pm

      that was a totally bitchin’ (the slang doesn’t have g on it) application of the lesson! Good job, Edson! Now make English your bitch!

  9. Rameez Faisal on August 6, 2013 at 4:58 am

    helpful

  10. Marian Iserte on October 8, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Thank you!

  11. Jay Wen on October 9, 2013 at 9:13 am

    haha

  12. […] you one of the many English learners who mix up the pronunciation of the two words: BITCH and […]

  13. Ozie Khan on March 3, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    thanks…

  14. Maria Teresa Sivira on March 19, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    very interesting… ! bitch as a verb!

    • Justin on March 25, 2014 at 2:46 pm

      yeah, bitch is a fun and useful expression if we know how to use it. If not, it can “be a bitch” to understand!

  15. Jason Alan Glazier on April 8, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Bitch please!

  16. Nestor Gerardo Herrera Maza on June 8, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    With such a bitching explanation , We don't have any bitch . You have proved that Real Life English is not Bitch..! Thanks !

  17. mhaey m. on July 10, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Before I’m confused to that bitch term now some kindA clear thanks to the youtube video and article.it helps a lot.interesting.

  18. Bo Banks on July 17, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Nothing to bitch about here!

  19. David Orneallas on August 20, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Great article. I would add that “bitch please!” is also commonly used by the speaker to indicated that he or she believes that the person “bitch please” is directed at has made a claim or boast to which, in the speakers opinion, others, including perhaps the speaker, have a much greater claim. Someone might say, for example, that they were broke and had to settle for taco truck instead of sushi to which a speaker might reply, “Bitch, please, I ate ramen noodles 3 times a day the whole time I was in college.” A way, in other words, for a speaker to ridicule someone else’s claim as being beneath their threshold of respect.

  20. David Orneallas on August 20, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Great article. I would add that “bitch please!” is also commonly used by the speaker to indicated that he or she believes that the person “bitch please” is directed at has made a claim or boast to which, in the speakers opinion, others, including perhaps the speaker, have a much greater claim. Someone might say, for example, that they were broke and had to settle for taco truck instead of sushi to which a speaker might reply, “Bitch, please, I ate ramen noodles 3 times a day the whole time I was in college.” A way, in other words, for a speaker to ridicule someone else’s claim as being beneath their threshold of respect.

  21. Tim Papantony on October 12, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Hi Justin, great article for my private class. It was really bitchin'! I teach English in Brasilia at Casa Thomas Jefferson. 🙂

    • Justin on October 13, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      Hey Tim, That’s awesome to hear! Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  22. Stefano on January 9, 2015 at 4:44 am

    Magnets, bitch! haha

    This word got really popular again because of the Breaking Bad series…

  23. ??? ??????? on January 18, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    but as i think the source of this word is : when we speaking about a female dog we speaking about sex so the famale dog when she want do the sex do it with a defrent dogs and a lang number of dogs so this is a Common denominator betwen a femal dog and a women or a bitch..

  24. ?????? ?. on May 13, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    lol

  25. Brando on August 14, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    Why did I search this up?

  26. Defiant Fiandt on March 14, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    Have to disagree on the claim that the term son of a bitch does not call to mind a mother. You’ll find differently if you say it to the wrong person, to whom it has most certainly called to mind his mother. To some, those are fighting words. Also, to refer to a man as a bitch is generally far beyond mildly offensive. At least where I come from, the United States. Of course any offensive term might be acceptable among friends. In general usage, that is about as bad as it gets, calling a man a bitch.

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