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As of the early 21st century, the "stereotypical bimbo" appearance became that of an attractive person, often blonde and (in the case of women) with a curvaceous figure and large breasts, possibly wearing heavy makeup and revealing clothing. However, none of these traits are strictly needed for a person to be considered a bimbo. It is sometimes associated with men or women who dye their hair blonde indicating that physical attractiveness is more important to them than other, non-physical traits and as an extension to the "dumb blonde" stereotype.
The word bimbo derives itself from the Italian bimbo, a masculine-gender term that means "(male) baby" or "young (male) child" (the feminine form of the Italian word is bimba). Use of this term began in the United States as early as 1919, and was a slang word used to describe an unintelligent or brutish man.
It was not until the 1920s that the term bimbo first began to be associated with females. In 1920, Frank Crumit, Billy Jones, and Aileen Stanley all recorded versions of "My Little Bimbo Down on the Bamboo Isle", with words by Grant Clarke and music by Walter Donaldson, in which the term "bimbo" is used to describe an island girl of questionable virtue. The 1929 silent film Desert Nights describes a wealthy female crook as a bimbo and in The Broadway Melody, an angry Bessie Love calls a chorus girl a bimbo. The first use of its female meaning cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is dated 1929, from the scholarly journal American Speech, where the definition was given simply as "a woman".
In the 1940s, bimbo was still being used to refer to both men and women, as in, for example the comic novel Full Moon by P.G. Wodehouse who wrote of “bimbos who went about the place making passes at innocent girls after discarding their wives like old tubes of toothpaste”.
The term died out again for much of the 20th century until it became popular again in the 1980s, with political sex scandals. As bimbo began to be used increasingly for females, exclusively male variations of the word began to surface, like mimbo and himbo, a backformation of bimbo, which refers to an unintelligent but attractive man.
Usage in popular culture
- In 1953, Jim Reeves recorded the song "Bimbo".
- In 1997, the Danish band Aqua used the word bimbo in their major hit "Barbie Girl," using the dumb blonde archetype as well ("I'm a blonde bimbo girl."). It was noted by Mattel in the legal conflict against Aqua and their record company for the representation of the popular Barbie doll.
- In 2001, the Swedish pop rock band Lambretta released a song called "Bimbo".
- In 2012, Bridgit Mendler used the word bimbo in the song "Forgot to Laugh".
- In 2012, Every Time I Die released a song called "Underwater Bimbos from Outer Space".
- A beauty contest game called Miss Bimbo is an online game in which players attempt to use virtual characters to win contests, earn IQ points and impress virtual boys, through makeovers, clothing, exercise, and the purchase of operations such as facelifts and breast implants. Although the game itself does not promote such activities in real life and is often viewed as a parody, it has received condemnation in the media from parent groups, especially in Europe.
- The term "'mimbo", to mean a male bimbo, was first coined in the episode "The Stall" of American sitcom Seinfeld. in the context of Elaine Benes's boyfriend, Tony (Dan Cortese).
- In The Amazing World of Gumball's season 2 episode "The Storm", Gumball tells Carmen he isn't a "cheap, reliable bimbo". However, only in the United States dubbing was this word replaced with "coward" despite the closed captions exposing the word when on.
In American politics, the word was used in the 1990s during Bill Clinton's sexual misconduct allegations, leading to the invention of the term "Bimbo eruptions" to refer to political sex scandals. The expression was also used in a 2014 report  in which Colin Powell explained his reluctance to vote for Hillary Clinton in light of her husband's continued affairs with "bimbos".
After the first 2015 Republican Presidential Debate, Donald Trump re-tweeted a message calling debate moderator and Fox News host Megyn Kelly a "bimbo" via Twitter. This took place after Kelly asked Trump a question that referenced his television show The Apprentice[better source needed] from season 6 in 2005[better source needed] Shortly afterwards, Stephen Richter of The Globalist published an opinion piece in which he accused Trump of being a bimbo, noting the original definition of bimbo as 'an unintelligent or brutish male'.
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- A bimbo is a woman who is not pretty enough to be a model, not smart enough to be an actress, and not nice enough to be a poisonous snake.--P.J.O'Rourke
- · 2004: Fey [...] makes hay with the thought processes of a purebred bimbo — The New Yorker, 10 May 2004.
(stupid or foolish person):
- She is the first doll to prove that you can be sexual and beautiful but not a bimbo.
- · 1960, P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves in the Offing, chapter III:
And one had to remember that most of the bimbos to whom Roberta Wickham had been giving the bird through the years had been of the huntin', shootin' and fishin' type, fellows who had more or less shot their bolt after saying 'Eh, what?' and slapping their leg with a hunting crop.
- · 1960, P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves in the Offing, chapter XIII:
Isn't he the bimbo who took the bread out of the mouths of the Thursday Review people? Chuck the blighter out of the window and we want to see him bounce.
- Ah Lian
- Valley girl and Essex girl carry similar connotations to a young bimbo or "bimbette", but are non-synonymous.
- Kogal or, more correctly, kogyaru and ganguro carry similar connotations as a Japanese version of a "valley girl" or bimbo.
- Barbie is the equivalent word for Bimbo in many Hispanic countries.
|Look up bimbo in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Encyclopedia of Hair, pp. 149-151
- "Etymonline". Retrieved 1 November 2011.
- Oxford English Dictionary, 1919
- "Slang of 1920s". Retrieved 23 June 2010.
- Frank Crumit (20 October 2016). "My Little Bimbo Down on the Bamboo Isle" – via Internet Archive.
- Diarmaid Ó Muirithe, Words We Use: The Meaning of Words And Where They Come From, Gill & Macmillan Ltd, Oct 31, 2006
- Justin Cord, The Unexpected Evolution of Language: Discover the Surprising Etymology of Everyday Words Hayes Adams Media, Sep 18, 2012
- "Aqua Now Faces Lawsuit Over "Barbie Girl"". MTV News. 12 September 1997. Archived from the original on 24 February 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
- "Parents upset over online Miss Bimbo game for children". Taipei Times. 30 March 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2008.
- 20, willow; Reply, 2009 at 3:39 pm (2 November 2009). "mimbo".
- Grant Barrett, Hatchet Jobs and Hardball: The Oxford Dictionary of American Political Slang , Oxford University Press, Apr 21, 2006
- "Colin Powell wrote in an email that Bill Clinton was 'd---ing bimbos'". Business Insider. 14 September 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- "Donald Trump late-night angry-tweets Megyn Kelly, and it is epic".
- The Apprentice (U.S. TV series)
- The Apprentice (U.S. season 6)
- Stephen Richter, The Globalist, "Donald Trump Outs Himself as a Bimbo, April 4, 2016"
- Bogart, Anne (14 March 1990). "A Doll for the 90's: Beautiful but No Bimbo". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 22 October 2015.