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I understand that calling a woman a bitch is a very strong language. However, is the word vulgar per se? Specifically, when used as a verb to bitch in the meaning of to complain (see What's the meaning of "bitching"?), is it also so strong? Could you use it in front of your grandmother? :)

ADDED: Is it acceptable to use it towards kids?

As a parent:

Stop bitching about the food.

As a teacher:

If you keep bitching about the homework, I'll give you even more.

As a bonus, could you place here some examples of to bitch in the above mentioned meaning so the wider context (such as prepositions which may follow etc.) is made apparent?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

It is somewhat vulgar and I wouldn't use it in front of my grandmother.

Anything you can follow 'talk' with, you can follow 'bitch' (in the verb sense) with:

That guy is always bitching about his job

Don't come bitching to me about your job

And so on...

In reference to your edit:

A teacher certainly wouldn't use it, and neither would a responsible parent (of younger children - teenagers perhaps). While it's relatively mild, it is still something of an expletive.

In short, you wouldn't use it in any polite conversation. You would only use it a situation where you would otherwise be comfortable cursing/swearing.

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"somewhat vulgar" - so is it (much) less vulgar than a bitch about a woman? –  Honza Zidek Jul 11 '14 at 11:03
Well, yes, mainly because it's not pejorative - it's not a direct insult. –  ElendilTheTall Jul 11 '14 at 11:17
Is it not pejorative??? I have understood that using to bitch about someone complaining is always pejorative! By saying that about someone I express my disgust from his behaviour. –  Honza Zidek Jul 11 '14 at 11:20
Well, maybe a little, but not as pejorative as actually calling someone a bitch. –  ElendilTheTall Jul 11 '14 at 11:39
I would change the last part to "comfortable with mild cursing/swearing." I definitely know a lot of people (including myself) who would, in certain contexts, use bitching but would balk at stronger curses such as fuck, shit, or cunt. To put it another way, saying someone is "bitching" would be used in the same contexts where you might also use the word bitch as a noun. (The exception being that the noun is sometimes seen as misogynistic.) –  trlkly Jul 17 '14 at 23:45

Neither of my grandmothers would have used the word "bitch" except in relation to dog breeding, and perhaps not even there. That said, I know many grandmothers who regularly use the word, and who do not object when the word is used in their presence, that it's safe to say that the status of the word is in transition, and it is considerably less vulgar than it once was. It is frequently used as an alternative for "complain", and takes pretty much the same prepositions and other usage as that word. Further complicating usage is that in some subcultures, "bitchin" is used as an adjective that I understand has favorable characteristics.

That said, I generally refrain from using the word, because over use of the word is obscuring its meaning and impact.

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