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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
R.I.P Bachelors and Spinsters
Marriage registration form
Happier times
BACHELORS, the party is over.

Unmarried men will no longer be officially labelled with this old-fashioned term after the Registrar General of England and Wales decreed it belongs to a bygone era.

In a similar spirit, Spinsters are being consigned firmly to the shelf.

From December, first-time brides and grooms completing their wedding register form will no longer declare their previous unwedded status as "bachelor" or "spinster".

As part of the Civil Partnership Act, these somewhat quaint terms will make way for a new catch-all description for unmarried men and women: "single".

The impetus for the change was to bring consistency to the registration process between marriages and civil partnerships - so-called "gay marriages".

But long before this official change, the terms had fallen out of public favour. Dating back to 1362 - when it first came into the printed language - "spinster" has latterly failed to conjure up the image of an unmarried woman as a glamorous, independently-minded gal-about-town.

Cat ladies

Instead it came to be associated with a woman old before her time, surrounded only by her cats.

Single men have been similarly unenthusiastic about being labelled a bachelor in recent times, although the term took a more graceful fall down the etymology glamour league.

Initially coined as a word to depict a young knight, Chaucer is credited with first using it to describe an unmarried man.

Latterly though "bachelor" became more closely association with Britain's foremost Knight Bachelor, Sir Cliff Richard, who famously sang "You'll be a bachelor boy until your dying day".

In the end though, Sir Cliff has outlived the term itself.

Naturally, bachelors and spinsters are not survived by anyone as they of course remained unmarried.

No flowers.

Your tributes:

Ben Paddon, Luton, England

Singularly disappointing
Elisabeth, UK

Hatched, unmatched, dispatched.
Simon Robinson, Birmingham, UK

Any chance the Registrar General can abolish Sir Cliff also?
Andrew Percy, Yorkshire, England

Will be miss-ed.
Chris Field, US

On the shelf no longer....
P.A.Daly, UK

No wallflowers.
Candy Spillard, UK


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