I'm interested to see if, in fact, there are any new words in use from around the English-speaking world to replace the odious terms 'Spinster' and 'Old Maid'. I'm not referring to the term "unmarried woman" (which frequently has the age of the woman in question attached as an apparent matter of course).

I find it very curious that there is still such a stigma attached to a woman (in particular) choosing to remain unmarried! There are many people who just don't want to accrue a piece of paper and/or a partner who, statistically, at any rate, they are likely to end up having to go through the stress of divorcing at some point.

I live in a largely Agnostic country - so it's doubly strange to me. I feel that there should be a "positive" term for those who wish to live by themselves the majority of the time. At any rate, a word which celebrates individualistic, non-promiscuous types of either/any(?) gender who sometimes co-habits with a boyfriend/girlfriend/Lover is sadly lacking I believe! Any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

  • 1
    Short of an generally accepted term, you might describe such a woman or man as an "independent spirit" , or maybe "person who enjoys their social freedom" or ? "usually unentangled? " ; ) I'll keep brainstorming
    – Tom22
    Jan 9, 2017 at 2:11
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    There's "bachelorette". 🙃 On the other hand, I don't think people use "bachelor" that much any more either. I think we just say a person is "single". The few times I've heard "He's a confirmed bachelor", it has been used to imply that the man in question is homosexual. As in this cartoon from The New Yorker back before same-sex marriage was legalized by the US Supreme Court: condenaststore.com/-sp/…
    – verbose
    Jan 9, 2017 at 2:13
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    The problem is, any new coinage will seem fresh for a while, but will then undergo the relentless chain of euphemization. Recall that "toilet" used to refer to the act of dressing oneself, not something one defecates into.
    – Robusto
    Jan 9, 2017 at 3:09
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    Considering our willingness to refer to any such middleaged-or-above woman with one or more cats as a "cat lady", we really are in want of some better terms.
    – Phil Sweet
    Jan 9, 2017 at 3:55
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    I haven’t detected any stigma associated with women wishing to remain unmarried in many many years and that’s why there are no new words to replace spinster.
    – Jim
    Jan 9, 2017 at 5:30

1 Answer 1



[a person that is] Unmarried or not involved in a stable sexual relationship


  • Simplest is often best, as it is here. +1
    – ab2
    Jan 9, 2017 at 19:21
  • I agree that simplest is generally best - however it would be nice if there were an edgy neologism for spinster. I live in Australia and have an extended Catholic step-family, most of whom live in the country! Every time I have to catch up with them I'm forced to endure relentless questions in the vein of "So, any new fellas in your life that I should know about?" and looks ranging from pity to what I'm fairly sure are
    – Lida Hall
    Jan 10, 2017 at 4:27
  • Phil Sweet - I doubt I could agree more!
    – Lida Hall
    Jan 10, 2017 at 4:39
  • Jim, that could actually be (and I'm just guessing here) because you're a man...
    – Lida Hall
    Jan 10, 2017 at 4:42

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