Of bachelors, spinsters, and wasting time on ridiculous questions . . .

For some reason — and I have no idea what that reason is — my mind has been grappling this morning with a bemusing question.

WOMAN SILHOUETTE, PONYTAILThe dictionary definition of the word spinster is as follows: An unmarried woman of gentle family; a woman who has never married, especially one past the “usual” age of marrying.

MAN PROFILEThe dictionary definition of a bachelor is as follows: A man who has never been married; a man who is not married or cohabiting, but who lives independently.

So let me get this straight: A bachelor is a man who has never married, and by the use of the word “never” one understands that he is well along in years and has passed the “usual” time of marrying. A spinster is a woman who has done the same. Yet the term bachelor carries absolutely no negative connotations with it — and in fact, some people even consider it a mark of distinction. Yet the term spinster — at least here in the U.S. — carries a very decidedly negative connotation. In fact most dictionaries give the term “old maid” as a synonym for the word spinster.

Now for the question: WHY THE DIFFERENCE???

Anyway, while cogitating on this bemusing question, I also got to thinking about a poem that was written by a great friend of mine, Lila Colloton. Lila is now a perky little lady of 82, a widow, a mother, a grandmother, and still an active poet and reporter for a local newspaper. She wrote the following poem when she was 16. I’ve shared it once before on this site, but not for a very long time. Thought you might enjoy it today.


Being an old maid would be fun I guess:
No diapers to wash or children to dress;
You may go shopping whenever you can;
Don’t have to sit home and wait for your man.
Yes, being an old maid would be fun I suppose:
Just one person’s dishes and your very own clothes.

But just stop to think before you continue:
Don’t you feel sort of funny within you?
Kind of an empty feeling I bet.
Just suppose Mom and Dad hadn’t met.
Where would you be?
Nobody knows:
Probably just part of the breeze that blows.

So stop debating before it’s too late;
When he calls up, don’t break that date!

© Lila Colloton

(By the way, if anyone can answer my question, be sure to let me know.)



One thought on “Of bachelors, spinsters, and wasting time on ridiculous questions . . .

  1. I would say, discrimination is the reason, the male, since long long ago, before dictioneries, was respected no matter how old he was. Sad but true, that the mind has never lost the fact that Adam was possibly made before Eve and therefore gets preference over female!

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