Dive bar

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This article is about the colloquial term for a bar. For the Lady Gaga tour, see Dive Bar Tour.
The outdoor signage of a dive bar in Los Osos, California—nicknamed “The Marriage Breaker” by local residents

Dive bar is a colloquial or informal American term for a disreputable bar or pub. Such bars may also be referred to as neighborhood bars, where local residents gather to drink and socialize.

Individual bars may be considered to be disreputable, sinister, of poor upkeep, or even a detriment to the community. This was especially true in the past:

A plot to entrap young women for the dives of Northern Wisconsin has been discovered.[1][2]

The dives themselves are nuisances, per se, and that is why they have to pay such high license prices.[3]

A 1961 dictionary defined a "dive" as "a disreputable resort for drinking or entertainment".[4]

In an article in its August 2010 issue, Playboy magazine described a dive bar as:

A church for down-and-outers and those who romanticize them, a rare place where high and low rub elbows—bums and poets, thieves and slumming celebrities. It’s a place that wears its history proudly.[5]

The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary indicates that in the United States in the 1880s the term referred to an illegal drinking den or other place of ill repute, especially one located in a basement. This usage later became obsolete.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Troy Daily Times. Troy, Michigan. 7 February 1888.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Odd Wisconsin Archive, third paragraph.
  3. ^ Chicago Tribune. 17 September 1948. p. 8/1.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language. Springfield, Massachusetts: G. & C. Merriam Co. 1961. p. 662. 
  5. ^ Wallace, Glenn (24 July 2010). "Jasper's makes list of top 'dive bars'". Lompoc Record.