It’s the original insult. It needs no introduction, no following; it works as a standalone slur for just about any scenario. Whether someone jostles you on the subway, beats you at poker, or breaks your heart, all you need is one word: bitch.
Or at least that’s how it used to be. Calling someone a bitch used to be pretty straightforward, but today—after many adaptations, reinventions, and attempts to reclaim the word—it’s not totally clear what “bitch” really means anymore. There are bad bitches and basic bitches; rich bitches and ratchet bitches; even perfect bitches, as Kanye West once famously described Kim Kardashian. You can bitch-slap someone, wear a resting bitch face, or just tag the word onto the end of a sentence, as in, “I’m in Miami, bitch!” When the word “bitching” is used as a verb, it means to complain; when it’s used as an adjective, it means to be cool. To be “someone’s bitch” can mean either to be owned by that person or to be his or her BFF—unless you’re someone’s “prison bitch,” which always means the former.