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What Does Biddie Mean, Anyway?

We’ve heard it a million times. Maybe we’ve even said it ourselves. Or worse: maybe we’ve been deemed a biddie.

This term has gained a place in our everyday vocabulary – yet we don’t often stop to think about the meaning or history of this word.

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Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com

Interestingly, the meaning of the word has evolved over time. The Word Detective explains the timeline of the term biddie. The first meaning of biddie is chicken, and it first emerged in the early 17th century. Most likely, the term came from the nonsense syllables used to call chickens – something like “here biddybiddybiddy.”

By the late 18th century, the term became somewhat of a derogatory slang nickname for women. The term may have disappeared all together if it were not for the arrival of Irish immigrants into the US in the early 19th century. American families often paid for Irish women to travel to America, and then in return the Irish women became servants for the families. This occurred so often that these women became referred to as “biddies,” a shortening of the common Irish women’s name, Bridget.

Currently, biddie is more of a racialized and misogynistic term, often used to as a derogatory way to describe a college aged, easy, white female. Urban Dictionary explains that a biddie’s priorities often include drinking Mike’s Hard Lemonade, going out at night looking for parties, and thinking that being dumb is the cool thing to do.

Urban Dictionary provides another rather insightful definition of the word biddie:

A biddie, while difficult to define accurately while avoiding confusion, is a college age female who falls under some, most, or all of these descriptions:

  • Often short/petite
  • Gullible, easily tricked
  • Wears spandex pants, a miniskirt, or anything from American Apparel
  • Footwear consists of Uggs, boots with fur on them, heels, or some combination of the three
  • Enjoys Biddie Songs
  • At least 80% of their facebook pictures would render them unemployable if leaked
  • Does not remember the last weekend that did not involve a hangover
  • Dreams of being a woman from Desperate Housewives
  • Smirnoff Ice = ideal pregame
  • Wakes up in weird places
  • The purpose of the bathroom/kitchen sink is obviously as a courtesy for you when you get sick
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Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com

Now, a term synonymous with biddie that we often hear on college campuses is basic. Basic seems to be less of an insult than biddie, yet it is still insulting. This definition for basic on Urban Dictionary says it well:

“Used to describe someone devoid of defining characteristics that might make a person interesting, extraordinary, or just simply worth devoting time or attention to.”

The term basic seems to have derived to describe any college-aged white female. Seen carrying a Starbucks cup? You’re basic. Wearing Hunter rain boots because it is raining? You’re basic.  Didn’t want to do your hair so you put it in a messy bun or pony tail? You’re basic. Is it freezing cold outside and you want to wear a warm jacket, a north face jacket maybe? You’re basic. Do you like to wear a striped chevron pattern? You’re basic. Women are being labeled for simply living their lives – and this label is often placed on women immediately.

It seems that being basic is hard to avoid as a white college female. In a culture where women feel consistent pressure to perfect their appearance, the fear of being labeled as basic amplifies these concerns. This fear provides women with another reason to doubt themselves and to feel insecure, another reason for women feel pressure to spend money on the newest and least basic fashion trends, and another reason to compare themselves to others. This type of culture promotes the inequality that exists in our society by giving women another reason to focus on their appearance rather than their innate self-worth.

If you would like to know if you fall into the category of basic, College Humor has created this satirical clip to describe more about this serious condition, check it out here!

2 Responses to “What Does Biddie Mean, Anyway?”

  1. mustbeamermaid

    Great post! I had no idea that the word “Biddie” had such an impressive longevity! I agree with what you were saying at the end of the piece, that woman are labeled almost instantly, and that almost any college girl has some “basic” qualities. I mean, I’m wearing Hunter rain boots right now, not to fit into a stereotype, but because there’s snow on the ground! You may be interested in a post that I wrote last semester, exploring the same basic stereotype… Is it such a bad thing? https://shoutoutjmu.com/2014/10/12/is-being-basic-a-bad-thing/

    Reply
  2. lumpyspaceproblems

    “Women are being labeled for simply living their lives – and this label is often placed on women immediately.” -so true! Labels like this are so frustrating, and basically mean nothing when they apply to every single girl in college. Seems like a wide-ranging case of misogyny to me! And nobody’s safe from it. ):

    Reply

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