A person is called single if he or she is not married, not in a civil union, and not in a sexual or romantic relationship. In a more general sense, the word also means that person currently has no exclusive partner, like a boyfriend or girlfriend. Such people can be classified into different types:
- People who choose to live alone. This includes hermits and shamans. The Catholic Church does not want that their priests marry. There are also some restrictions in the Orthodox church. Nuns and monks are also not allowed to marry. Such singles are often part of a religious order or community.
- People who live alone because of social norms. This was especially true for children who were born outside a marriage, in the Middle Ages.
- People who have not yet found their partner. Some people actively search for a mate, others simply wait until the right person comes along.
- People whose partner died, or who are divorced.
In English, male singles used to be called bachelors, female singles used to be called spinsters (or bachelorettes, more recently). In general, the word single is used more often now, because it also does not make a difference between the two sexes.