Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Bachelor (Fr. bachelier, probably from the Low-Lat. baccalarius, cowherd, bacca being the Low-Latin form of vacca, cow; but derived by some from a Keltic root meaning small or young), a term first used to denote a particular kind of inferior tenant of church lands; then applied to probationers for the monastic life; later on, to knights who had not yet been able to raise their banner in the field; and in the thirteenth century adopted in the University of Paris to denote candidates who had undergone their first university trials and were authorised to lecture, but were not yet full teachers. Later it was used in other universities, and written bacca laureus (as if it meant "crowned with laurel-berries"), whence the French baccalauriat - "bachelor's degree." It now generally denotes the first degree taken, the lowest degree which exempts its holder from strict university discipline. In practice the bachelor's degree in arts at Oxford and Cambridge is followed by the master's without further examination, while few London graduates proceed beyond it. Lastly, the term came to be applied to unmarried men, as probationers for matrimony.