Bitch is a term for the female of a canine species in general. It is also frequently used as a term for a malicious, spiteful, domineering, intrusive, or unpleasant person, especially a woman. This second meaning has been in use since around 1400. When used to describe a male, it may also confer the meaning of "subordinate", especially to another male, as in prison. Generally, this term is used to indicate that the person is acting outside the confines of their gender roles, such as when women are assertive or aggressive, or when men are passive or servile. More recent variants of bitch are bitchy, ill-tempered (1925), and to bitch, to complain (1930).
Since the 1980s, the term "bitch" became more and more accepted and less offensive. After the word was widely used between rivals Krystle and Alexis on the drama Dynasty, it gained usage, in malicious contexts or otherwise, and is now very rarely censored on television broadcasts. Prior to the term's general acceptance, euphemism terms were often substituted, such as "gun" in the phrase "son of a gun" as opposed to "son of a bitch". More generally the term has also acquired the meaning of something unpleasant or irksome, as in the expression "Life's a Bitch".