In Reply to: Re: Confirmed bachelor posted by David FG on March 13, 2010 at 07:47:
: : : I have searched the site for the phrase "confirmed bachelor" and it only came up once, but in reference to the phrase "cloverboy." I would like to find out the history of the phrase "confirmed bachelor," particularly to discover when it first held the connotation of homosexuality.
: : I didn't know that the phrase ever held to connotation of homosexuality. Obviously a man without female companionship in his life can expect gossip, but I don't think it has always accompanied the status of "confirmed bachelor," nor do I think it does now.
: : We don't have a parallel phrase "confirmed spinster," or at least I haven't heard it. Still women living alone except for a female comapanion can expect comments. Rosa Bonheur, possibly the most famous painter of horses in the 19th century and undoubtedly the most famous woman painter of her time, got all kinds of gossip because she lived with a woman. Geez Louise, who care?
: I disagree slightly with SS. It certainly was one of those 'coded' phrases that everyone understood that used to appear in obituaries (especially). In the days when homosexuality was a crime, and even after that when attitudes were considerably less tolerant than they are (thankfully) now, it was not 'done' to state that a man was gay.
: Another classic phrase that was widely used was 'he didn't suffer fools gladly' - which was code for 'he was bloody rude'.
[DFG is in line with the most up-to-date presumptions, but that is not necessarily correct - "confirmed bachelor" (from, let's say, the mid-19th to the mid-20th century) could not have been obit-code for "gay" (or for "homosexual," either) because obit-writers were under no obligation to tell their readers, even by code, about their subject's sexual life, whether it was regular or irregular. The same phrase, "confirmed bachelor," would have appeared in the obits of men who had lived celibate lives; and if it had been "code for 'gay'," the writers would have had to explain that, in this case, they didn't mean it. Which would have made for interesting, but needlessly complicated, reading along with the morning tea and toast. - Baceseras.]