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Judge uses semantic argument to quash domestic abuse

Meaning of word "bitch" key argument in overturning of year-long jail sentence

The Murcia Provincial Court has reversed a sentence against a man who called his wife a "bitch" and told their son that he would "see to it that she ended up in a pine box."

The accused, who had been sentenced to a year in jail, will now only have to spend eight days reporting to the police on a charge of light threats. During his original trial, he admitted having insulted his wife but argued that he used the word "zorra" (which literally means "female fox") in allusion to the "attitude of an animal that must behave with a lot of caution."

When he stood trial, the man already had a prior conviction for domestic abuse within the family.

The judge overseeing the appeal, Juan del Olmo, wrote in the sentence that the word "bitch" did not always convey "disdain or contempt for a women," given that it has other meanings.

The judge went on to write that the word, used in a conversation between adults, is not always considered offensive if it is used "to emphasize the cunning of the person."

According to the official Spanish dictionary, zorra has five definitions, including female fox, prostitute and "astute and underhand person."