I. noun 1.
‹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.] 1.
‹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 / noun
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.