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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Bachelorette is an informal, chiefly American term for a woman who is above the age of majority but is not married. It is derived from the word bachelor, and is often used by journalists, editors of popular magazines, and some individuals. "Bachelorette" was famously the term used to refer to female contestants on the old Dating Game TV show.

In Canada, the term bachelorette also refers to a small bachelor apartment. The term bachelor apartment, used in Canada and South Africa, refers to an apartment with only one large room serving as a bedroom and living room plus a separate bathroom (see studio apartment).


The more proper neologism would be bacheloress, since the -ess suffix is the standard English suffix denoting a female subject, while -ette is a French-origin diminutive suffix, indicating that the subject is smaller and is of feminine gender. However, in American English the -ess suffix is only marginally morphologically productive, and the -ette suffix can indicate a feminine version of a noun without a change in size (though many such words in -ette were intended to be jocular when they were first coined).

Reasons for use

The traditional English term for a woman who has never married is a spinster, while a woman who is divorced is a divorcée, and a woman whose spouse has died is a widow. All three of these terms have carried negative cultural connotations at one time or another. Spinster often implied that the woman was older than the age when most women traditionally marry and that she would probably never marry; more extremely this was defined as an 'old maid'. Failing to marry was often looked down upon in many cultures. The term widow may be associated with an older woman (although a woman can be a widow at any age). Divorcée and widow are also indicative that the woman no longer has her virginity. In some cultures, men would/will not marry a woman who was not a virgin.

The more popularly used term for the legal status of a young person (male or female) who has never been married is "single" or "never married".

Feminists object to the use of bachelorette because of its implication women are in some way lesser than the male counterpart.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Bachelorette" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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