old maid: a single woman regarded as too old for marriage. Source

spinster: a woman who is not ​married, ​especially a woman who is no ​longer ​young and ​seems ​unlikely ​ever to ​marry. Source

These 2 above words refer to female, but now I want to find the similar term for male.

You can say that we can use "unmarried man" which is similar to "unmarried woman"

However, unmarried woman is "a woman who is not married" Source and it does not have the connotation as of "old maid" or "spinster".

It is because that "unmarried woman" could be the sister in a church who just do not want to marry because her religion. On the contrary, "old maid" or "spinster" means she is not attractive enough to get a husband or noone wants to marry her.

  • Simply old bachelor. The lack of stigma attached to this word, and the difference in connotation with spinster, simply reflects an asymmetry in gender roles at he time the words were coined. It was ok for men to never marry. Women were expected to marry. Note: confirmed bachelor was a euphemism for a man who was never expected to marry, because he was gay (one did not talk about homosexuality directly in those days).
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 16:06
  • @Dan, there is no such word "old bachelor" in dictionary. Can you provide the resource?
    – Tom
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 16:09
  • old bachelor: a bachelor who is old. Again, there is a single word for an old unmarried woman because there was an asymmetry in expectations, and a woman's age was considered pertinent to her prospects for getting married. A man was not considered unmarriageble simply because he was old, nor was it such a big deal if a man never got married. The word hours looking for is bachelor, if you want to say (in addition) he is old, then you must (in addition) say that.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 16:28
  • What about elderly bachelor? theasylum.wordpress.com/2009/01/28/…
    – user66974
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 16:33
  • 3
    @Tom There is no fixed definition of old. A woman could have been labelled a spinster at 25, and when I was 7 years old, 30-year old mean seemed inconceivably old. It is you who want to label these men old bachelors, so it is you who has to decide which men to so label.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 16:37

3 Answers 3


Confirmed bachelor doesn't necessarily have the same connotation of "not being attractive enough," but it does indicate a sense of permanence. It sometimes is a euphemism for homosexuality, but more generally:

Any man uninterested in committed relationships. (Wiktionary)

A couple more:

  • the phrase “confirmed bachelor” describes a man who is having so much fun being single that he’ll probably never marry. (Vocabulary.com)
  • A confirmed bachelor is a man who shows little or no interest in women. It can be used to suggest that they're gay. (UsingEnglish.com)

As mentioned, homosexuality can be implied, but it is by no means the only way to understand this. For example, a Washington Post headline reads:

Confirmed bachelor and 2016 hopeful Lindsey Graham promises a ‘rotating first lady’

But Graham is not openly gay, and the Post is not insinuating that.

  • 4
    but "Confirmed bachelor" is more about a "gay man"
    – Tom
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 16:16
  • 3
    Can you find other term because other dictionary only has 1 meaning for "Confirmed bachelor" which is a gay man?
    – Tom
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 16:20
  • 1
    @Natheniel, but "confirmed bachelor" does not say that the man is so unattractive that no women want to marry him
    – Tom
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 16:52
  • 5
    "Confirmed bachelor" has been a well-known and commonly used term for 200 years, at least, and only in the past 20 or so has the connotation of being gay been (rather loosely) attached to it. (And, of course, a lot of "spinster aunts" of the past were gay, but that was largely ignored by society, while any hint of male homosexuality was grounds for social shunning.)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 17:24
  • 1
    In the usual nuanced difference in how the sexes are treated, one difference in the terms seems to be that a "confirmed bachelor" is assumed to be so by choice. That is not necessarily assumed for old maids or spinsters. In fact, often the opposite. Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 19:29

Lonely old man

Not a single word but this is a common phrase; if you do a Google search the top results are:

  • 10 ways to avoid becoming a lonely old man
  • The Myth of the Lonely Old Man
  • Tips To Avoid Becoming A Lonely Old Man

There is even the notion of lonely old man sitting in a park bench (references).

enter image description here

  • 4
    A lonely old man is far more likely to be a widower or divorced than a bachelor.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 6:18
  • 1
    @phoog - perhaps, but two things stand out: a) nothing in the phrase "a lonely old man" suggest anything about past marital status, b) more and more people are choosing to remain single for much of their lives and as such more and more men will end being that 'lonely old man' without even having married in the first place. Besides, this phrase perfectly captures the tacit social judgement against men of this condition than "confirmed bachelor" does. Commented Sep 27, 2015 at 23:23

I would say that on the shelf conveys both the same meaning and a very similar connotation.

According to the Cambridge dictionary:

If someone, usually a woman, is on the shelf, she is not ​married and is ​considered too ​old for anyone to ​want to ​marry her.

This phrase was initially coined in for women exclusively, but nowadays can be used for men too, although the phrase confirmed bachelor is used (as Nathaniel pointed out).

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