Confirmed Bachelor

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Jun 24 09:33:26 UTC 2001

At 4:08 PM -0400 6/24/01, Alice Faber wrote:
>Beverly Flanigan said:
>>Neither have I.  Is this British, but not American, code?
>>At 12:46 PM 6/22/01 -0700, James Smith wrote:
>>>Maybe I'm just naive, but I've never associated
>>>"bachelor" or "confirned bachelor" with homosexual.
>>>--- Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM wrote:
>>>  > What is the history and geography of "bachelor" or
>>>  > "confirmed bachelor" as
>>>  > a euphemism for "male homosexual"?
>I think I've heard the expression used in contexts where it clearly
>referred to "male homosexual", but I don't think it's conventionalized in
>ways that expressions like "not the marrying kind" are.
For me the two are similar; both CAN be used to signal that the
referent is gay, but neither is ONLY used in this sense.  Evidence
from the web suggests that the man who is "not the marrying kind" is
more, rather than less, likely to be straight (but unwilling to
commit) than one who is a confirmed bachelor.  (We're not speaking of
the ordinary bachelor who has not yet undergone confirmation, of
course.)  Query:  Would the pope count as a confirmed bachelor, not
the marrying kind, both, or neither?

Alongside 'enry 'iggins, the self-confessed "confirmed old bachelor
and likely to remain so" (in "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face"),
there's also an Elvis song "Not the Marrying Kind"--

Show me a girl with a dimple on her cheek
Butter melts in her mouth
When she opens it to speak
Show me a girl who is acting so refined
And I'll show you a girl with one thing on her mind

So I say "You know what?" She says "What?"
I say "What? Oh I'm not the marrying kind
For you've got what it takes
And it takes what you've got
But I'm not the marrying kind
Don't kiss me, don't claw me
Don't pet me, don't paw me
And I won't leave my freedom behind"

--and a story about a study 'that finds Americans are still the
marrying kind', which evidently doesn't refer to a persistent
preponderance of heterosexuals in the society.

There's also an article from our local free weekly, the New Haven
Advocate, about gay marriage between men who are, as it turns out,
"the marrying kind", but that's clearly a pun in the context.  Time
Magazine has two on-line articles with the headline "The Marrying
Kind, one involving a heterosexual couple, recruits at West Point
who, well, it's an interesting story...
  JUNE 1, 1998 VOL. 151 NO. 21
The Marrying Kind
West Point forbids cadets to wed, but two are getting away with matrimony

Standing tall in full-dress gray among his 900 fellow West Point graduates this
Saturday will be a freshly minted U.S. Army officer, proudly ready to wear
the "butter bars" of a 2nd lieutenant. But he is unique among his classmates
in at least one respect: he is graduating only because he and another West
Point cadet have figured out how to get away with marriage. Against
U.S. Military
Academy regulation they married; then they had a child, unmarried in order to
graduate from the academy and, with commencement in sight, are apparently
prepared to remarry and regain custody of the baby...
the other, three years later, describing Vermont's civil unions and
their positive effect on the gay and lesbian tourism business in the

Now of course it COULD be the case that "the marrying kind" and "not
the marrying kind" differ in that the latter much more clearly refers
to sexual orientation rather than connubiality, but I don't see any
strong evidence for this.  I maintain that either CAN be used as a
code term or somewhat playful euphemism, but needn't be.


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