In reference to this question: Polite alternative to the term "bitch" when referring to a female dog

I'm curious to know why it was closed. The question boils down to "What is a polite term for a female dog, in leiu of the fact that word 'bitch' may cause offense?"

The answer I accepted boiled down to "either use female dog, or bitch as there is no alternative", and there were similar answers that focused on breeding as well, which where all correct in the context of the question.

While the suggestion "why not use a different animal, if you don't want to use 'bitch'" was helpful, I chose not to accept that answer as it didn't answer the question that was asked.

So what exactly about the question is unclear?

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    I have to run right now, but as the person who shut down your question I owe you at least this short comment. What's unclear about the question is best demonstrated by the kind of answers it invited. When a question reads, "what is a better term for a female dog?", and the answers read "goose", "cow", and "adding to the excellent suggestions so far, how about horse?", and these answers have sixty upvotes between them, then frankly, putting it on hold doesn't seem like too drastic a measure.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 23:53
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    So, while it's easy to declare that page nice and tidy now that it has been tidied up, the full picture is that the question generated no less than six answers that had to be pruned, and while the question itself might be nice and tidy, the comments — your comments — that invited the now-deleted answers are anything but. When there's little hope for a question to go anywhere short of purging half of the content on the page, it may, and will, be put on hold pending clarification of where it is we are actually going with it.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 23:55
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    So what's the best course of action here? It's a reasonable, on-topic question that's clearly interesting to ELU users. What should change about it to take it off hold? Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 0:23
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    I'm not sure, but I'd like it if Michaels answer were reinstated, (or at least one, why not use a different animal answer). While invalid it helps highlight when a lateral approach to answering a question is needed.
    – user53089
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 0:24
  • I did update my answer after I had asked you whether other animals might be appropriate. In addition to dam and sire, I added suggestions based on horses and pigs. Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 0:31
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    @RegDwighт: Reading the question carefully, it seems that proposing another animal altogether is a very reasonable answer. Please undelet Michael's answer -and- reopen the question.
    – Mitch
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 2:10
  • @Mitch I can see where Reg is coming from with trying to sort the cruft, and I'm glad at least Bradd's question that incldued a "what about other animals" section survived. I didn't think such a simple question would cause some much interest!
    – user53089
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 2:14
  • I know, especially when there are ellipses to be managed.
    – Mitch
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 2:18
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    Since the question clearly stated that it was a matter of a logical construction, any answers which helped that are relevant. Rather than deleting them, the question should have been edited to accommodate them better. It's Eric S. Raymond's Describe the goal for English rather than computer software.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 7:10
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    @Mitch: reopening the question after it has been cleaned up and the dust has settled is perfectly fine with me. However, it is not fine with me to undelete an answer even the OP agrees is invalid. More to the point, if we undelete one such answer, we must undelete all such answers. And these answers will then invite more answers of that kind. And we will have no way to stop that from happening, we will have to continue to allow them all. So at the end of the day, you get an endless list of various animals. That is not helping anyone at all.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 8:50
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    It should be noted, and I am glad Lego Stormtroopr did, that Bradd's answer survived. That's because it managed what other answers did not: while it did answer the underlying question, it also made sure to try and answer the actual question at hand.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 8:58
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    @Andrew I'd submit that we have sister sites that are better suited for matters of a logical construction. As far as the English language is concerned, the answer to "I need to differentiate between an adult female dog, an adult male dog and a puppy and am searching for polite terms" is not "goose, gander and gosling". It simply isn't.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 9:01
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    "... in light of the fact ..." Not the correct usage or spelling of "in lieu".
    – hunter2
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 6:13

1 Answer 1


Having given a sort of drive-by, "Huh?" to the question yesterday, I wanted to support and elaborate on RegDwight's comment:

As far as the English language is concerned, the answer to "I need to differentiate between an adult female dog, an adult male dog and a puppy and am searching for polite terms" is not "goose, gander and gosling". It simply isn't.

I agree that it seems like the question and its answers were fundamentally out of sync.

Possibility 1: The OP is really interested in dogs, specifically. The question is clear and seems to be on-topic to me, but the answers regarding other animals are completely missing the mark and should be deleted or something.

Possibility 2: The OP is looking for an example of some animal that has distinct terms for male/female/young. If that's the case, then the question needs serious revision. Even when revised... I'm not convinced that enumerating animals that fit this paradigm is a particularly interesting question for this site, but I guess I can't pinpoint any legitimate reason to close it.

Either way, something was amiss and putting the question on hold seems to me like a reasonable course of action.

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    I agree overall - but specifically in respect of "Possibility 2", I don't see why it shouldn't be On Topic to ask which "animal triplet" (excluding dog/bitch/puppy) is most familiar to Anglophones. Both boar/sow/piglet and stallion/mare/foal are more commonly understood than, say, cob/pen/cygnet. Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 14:57
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    @FumbleFingers - Yes, if you word it that way I think that makes it more interesting than the more basic 'What animal triplets are there'.
    – Lynn
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 1:47
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    Yes, and it also makes it possible to find a single “best” answer in line with the SE format. Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 7:01

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