bastard /ˈbɑːstəd, ˈbastəd/


I. noun

‹derogatory› a person born of parents not married to each other.
‹informal› an unpleasant or despicable person.

he lied to me, the bastard!
3. [with adj.]
(Brit.) a person of a specified kind

he was a lucky bastard.
(Brit.) a difficult or awkward undertaking, situation, or device

it’s been a bastard of a week.
II. adjective [ attrib.]

‹derogatory› born of parents not married to each other; illegitimate.

a bastard child.
2. (of a thing) no longer in its pure or original form; debased

a bastard Darwinism.
3. (of a handwriting script or typeface) showing a mixture of different styles.
III. phrases

1. (as) happy (or lucky, miserable, etc.) as a bastard on Father’s Day

‹informal› very unhappy (or unlucky, miserable, etc.)

he looked as happy as a bastard on Father’s Day.
2. keep the bastards honest

(Austral.) ensure that politicians behave fairly and openly

we’re going to need someone to keep the bastards honest.
[1980s: from a slogan of the Australian Democrats, formulated by its founder Don Chipp (1925–2006), alluding to the party’s role in holding the balance of power in the Senate.]
IV. derivatives

bastardy /ˈbɑːstədi /

bastard (sense 1 of the noun)
– origin Middle English: via Old French from medieval Latin bastardus, probably from bastum ‘packsaddle’; compare with Old French fils de bast, ‘packsaddle son’ (i.e. the son of a mule driver who uses a packsaddle for a pillow and is gone by morning). / usage: In the past the word bastard was the standard term in both legal and non-legal use for ‘an illegitimate child’. Today, however, it has little importance as a legal term and is retained in this older sense only as a term of abuse.

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