Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bastard n.

1. (also barsterd) a contemptible, objectionable person.

[UK]Character of a Town-Gallant in C. Hindley Old Bk Collector’s Misc. 6: Cursing his Doctor for a Quacking Bastard, that understands a Gentleman’s Disease no more than a Farrier.
[UK]Motteux (trans.) Gargantua and Pantagruel (1927) II Bk V 496: As for you, little envious prigs, snarling bastards [...] you will soon have railed your last: go hang yourselves.
[UK]T. Brown Amusements Serious and Comical in Works (1744) III 33: The first word that came from him was Master, I am your very humble servant; and the next Hey, you bastard you, on account of my putting a civil question, relating to two young ladies.
[UK]Cibber Life of Colley Cibber 28: I was so jeer’d, laugh’d at, and hated as a pragmatical Bastard (School-boys Language) who had betray’d the whole Form.
[UK]Foote Orators in Works (1799) I 216: I know the little bastard as well as myself.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Handley Cross (1854) 153: Only that bit bastard wad set up his gob, and say ar was to be in onder him.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor (1968) I 16: Now, you b---, I’ve got you at last.
[Aus]M. Clarke Term of His Natural Life (1897) 31: The skipper, and the parson, and that — Frere.
[UK]M. Roberts Western Avernus (1924) 186: I wish I’d killed the bastard.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 13 Jan. 5/6: What did you run away for then, you bastard, and give me all this trouble to catch you?
[Aus]Truth (Brisbane) 29 Mar. 5/7: ‘I’ll be even with you, you foreign b—d’.
[US]E. O’Neill Abortion in Ten ‘Lost’ Plays (1995) 180: I’m goin’ to the p’lice station! D’yuh hear, yuh dirty ba---rd!
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 86: I won’t have her bastard of a nephew ruin my son. A counterjumper’s son. Selling tapes in my cousin, Peter Paul M’Swiney’s.
[US]Dos Passos Manhattan Transfer 367: The feller vas a hardlookin bastard.
[UK]D. Ahearn How to Commit a Murder 73: If he is a Jew, you call him an Irish son of a bitch; and if he is an Irishman, you call him a Jew bastard.
[US]E. Anderson Thieves Like Us (1999) 60: Hell no, you black bastard.
[UK]D. Bolster Roll On My Twelve 10: Why can’t you barsterds put up some sugar.
[UK]A. Petry Narrows 258: Black bastard. White bitch.
[UK]J. Osborne Look Back in Anger Act I: You heard every damned thing those bastards did, all day and night.
[US]C. Himes Rage in Harlem (1969) 59: I’ll be able to get the bastards that much money just to keep from having to kill him.
[UK]P. Theroux Family Arsenal 70: He was a real bastard – he nearly killed me once.
[UK]A. Burgess 1985 (1980) 181: Sod off [...] Shove your gun in your fetid left armpit and pull the trigger.
[UK]T. Wilkinson Down and Out 60: Shut your fucking mooth, ya black bastard.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skin Tight 104: The bastard just blew up my Jag.
[UK]D. Jarman diary 8 Nov. Smiling in Slow Motion (2000) 253: Then she’s swearing: ‘Fucking bastards. Fucking bastards. You’re fucking bastards [...] I’m a prisoner ’ere.’.
[UK]Observer Rev. 9 Jan. 11: The bastards; why did they shoot me?
[UK]V. McDermid Insidious Intent (2018) 89: The bastards had backed off double fast.

2. (orig. Aus.) a general term for a man, a person or any form of creature or thing; not esp. derog.; e.g. lucky bastard.

[UK]Hall & Niles One Man’s War (1929) 290: The poor bastards have no place to go.
[UK](con. 1916) F. Manning Her Privates We (1986) 21: ‘Has anyone seen anything of Redmain?’ ‘Yes, sir [...] the poor bastard’s dead, sir.’.
[US](con. 1900s–10s) Dos Passos 42nd Parallel in USA (1966) 107: Hey, get a file; the bastard’s locked himself to the post.
[Aus]T. Wood Cobbers 42: I get in a good pozzy, and if one of the bastards [bullocks] jibs I touch him up with a tickler.
[UK]J. Curtis There Ain’t No Justice 41: ‘Got a fag?’ ‘No, I ain’t got a bastard.’.
[Aus]J. Binning Target Area 33: ‘Bastard’ used in the kind Australian way, the way that means: ‘You old son of a gun’.
[UK]J. Maclaren-Ross Of Love And Hunger 33: Ain’t had a bastard smoke all day. Not a bastard.
[US](con. 1944) N. Mailer Naked and Dead 157: [of a deer] What a big ole bastard.
[Aus]‘Neville Shute’ Town Like Alice 78: What can we do to fix this bastard [i.e. a place] so as we stay here tonight?
[UK]A. Sillitoe Sat. Night and Sun. Morning 22: [of spots] An air in which pimples grew and prospered on your face and shoulders [...] if you did not spend half an hour over the scullery sink every night getting rid of the biggest bastards.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 26 May in Proud Highway (1997) 339: A bug twice the size of that beetle. Had to kill the bastard.
[Aus]J. Wynnum I’m a Jack, All Right 8: No bastard has Buckley’s chance of changing his mind.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 15: The pimp is the loneliest bastard on Earth.
[US]P. Conroy Great Santini (1977) 421: If one of those big bastards [i.e. a bull] gets near me I’m gonna make about ten thousand cheeseburgers out of him.
[US](con. 1960s) D. Goines Black Gangster (1991) 61: You tell them three big bastards.
Edwards & Reed Bullsh n.p.: ‘The old bloke [...] said, ‘You’re just the bastard I wanted to see’’.
[Aus]P. Barton Bastards I Have Known 30: Spasser’s father wasn’t a bad bastard but he gave a pretty good beating.
[Aus]C. Bowles G’DAY 58: Doan go crook at mel You cook the bastards! [i.e. sausages].
[NZ]B. Stewart Broken Arse II v: Dirty-rotten-fuckin’-screw-bastards!
[UK]Indep. Rev. 20 July 13: I used to be a right flash bastard.
[UK]Indep. Traveller 15 Jan. 3: Cane toads play a part here, too. You squash the bastards.
D. Shaw ‘Dead Beard’ at www.asstr.org [Internet] While I was with him a hillman hunter stitched him up and Lingers used an Elsie Tanner on his Niagara falls. The poor bastard’ll never have another woman in his life.
[US]J.B. Myers [bk title] One Lucky Bastard.
[Aus] A. Nette ‘Chasing Atlantis’ in Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] Chance [...] wondered how the old bastard had scored a catch like her.
[Aus]N. Cummins Tales of the Honey Badger [ebook] [of a woman] I requested the maid ‘start with the bathroom first’ And in she went — poor bastard.

3. (orig. Aus.) a term of man-to-man affection; often as old bastard

[Aus](con. WWI) A.G. Pretty Gloss. of Sl. [...] in the A.I.F. 1921–1924 (rev. t/s) n.p.: Bastard A term of endearment.
[US]J. Thompson Texas by the Tail (1994) 33: Mitch, you sweet bastard!
[Aus] ‘Whisper All Aussie Dict.’ in Kings Cross Whisper (Sydney) xxxii 6/1: bastard: Said nicely, means friend.
[Aus]R. Beckett Dinkum Aussie Dict. 7: Bastard: [...] a term of affection as in ‘good old bastard.’.
[Aus]B. Moore Lex. of Cadet Lang. 25: bastard2 a term of camaraderie; of affection; often admirative.
[US]T. Udo Vatican Bloodbath 16: You away in there an’ try tae calm the big daft bastard doon a bit.
[UK]John & Blake [bk title] Are You a Miserable Old Bastard?

4. an admirable person, creature or object.

[UK]R. Carr Rampant Age 113: Jeesy, country, don’t pass up our Yeast High School special ham sandwich. That sandwich is a bastard – don’t miss it.
[UK]J. Franklyn Cockney 279: Between these two extremes is the expression of praise, or admiration: ‘That dog’s a bastard for rats – wipes ’em off in no time’; or ‘If he’s on the job we’re all right – proper bastard he is’.

5. (orig. Aus.) a situation, a circumstance, usu. a problematic one.

[UK]R. Westerby Wide Boys Never Work (1938) 46: Caw! Life was a proper bastard, wasn’t it? [Ibid.] 163: That was a bastard of a price to pay for reading.
[US]H. Miller Roofs of Paris (1983) 77: This business gives me a bastard of a dong.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Man From Clinkapella 5: ‘War’s a bastard,’ was all I could say.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ They’re a Weird Mob (1958) 77: ‘To-morrow we make the concrete.’ ‘Yeah. She’s a bastard.’.
[Aus]D. Martin Hero of Too 324: Life’s a bastard, and we’re all bastards together.
[Aus](con. 1930s) F. Huelin ‘Keep Moving’ 29: I’m shootin’ through to New South. Vic. is a bastard of a State.
[Aus]B. Humphries Traveller’s Tool 127: She says it’s a pleasure opening the envelope with her teeth, but it’s a bastard having to tackle a rubber reef knot.
[UK]R. Barnard A Fatal Attachment (1993) 200: Life has been a bastard to him.
[UK]A. Sillitoe Birthday 181: It’s a bastard, isn’t it?

6. an object.

[UK]J. Curtis They Drive by Night 52: Give us a hand to sling this bastard up on top there.
[UK]G. Kersh Fowlers End (2001) 256: Hm, the bastard sunk up to the hilt, didn’t ’e? Pretty wizened, this ’ere soil.
[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 9: Yank the bastards, Doc [...] Those snags have whipped me for a lot of action.
[UK]Sun. Times Mag. 12 Oct. 25: I stuffed a whole handful of the little plastic bastards in one packet.
[UK]P. Barker Union Street 80: Worst one-armed bandit I ever saw [...] Bastard never pays out.
[Aus]T. Winton Turning (2005) 143: She tried to light a little joint she’d been saving but the bastard of a thing was too damp.
[US] M. McBride Frank Sinatra in a Blender [ebook] [I] carried both sixers over the the mini [i.e. fridge] and loaded that bastard up.

In derivatives

bastarding (adj.)

a general intensifer, a modified version of fucking adj. (1)

Aistrop & Moore Bugle Blast II 76: Busty yelled, asked him if he thought his bloody hut looked like a post-office, or if he, Busty, looked like a bastarding postman.
[UK]B. Kiely Honey Seems Bitter 161: You bastardin’ liar. I’ll kill you for that.
[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Borstal Boy 40: Why did I keep those bastarding Capstans?
[UK]L. Dunne Goodbye to The Hill (1966) 27: ‘Bastardin’ robbers,’ he snorted.
[Ire]C. Brown Down All the Days 83: I will [...] if I can find the bloody bastarding bottle!
[UK](con. WWII) B. Aldiss Soldier Erect 77: Another bastarding night march tonight.
[Ire](con. 1970) G. Moxley Danti-Dan in McGuinness Dazzling Dark (1996) II i: I’m not having some bastering Yank telling me what to do.
[UK]I. Welsh Filth 30: If Carole hadn’t made us fuck off to go to Australia for six bastarding years.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 3 May 11: I thought we’d be better off under Labour but fuck it’s bastardin’ worse.
[Ire]P. Howard PS, I Scored the Bridesmaids 113: The go-getter generation is being hounded by [...] the bastarding police.
[US]T. Black Ringer [ebook] n.p.: There won’t be a next time for the stupid wee cunt. Bastarding sure there won’t!

In compounds

bastard-faced (adj.)

a general term of abuse.

[UK]A. Sillitoe ‘Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner’ Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (1960) 11: It’s a good life [...] if you don’t give in to coppers and Borstal-bosses and the rest of them bastard-faced In-laws.
‘Apocalypse D’ Brace for Impact 122: The dog’s a bastard faced bastard, but Ernie and his wife aren't too bad.
bastard-well (adv.)

a general intensifier, completely, extremely, very much.

[UK]‘J.H. Ross’ Mint (1955) 55: Cunt shouldn’t bastard-well drink if he can’t carry it.
[UK]P. Larkin letter 16 Sept. in Thwaite Sel. Letters (1992) 21: A bastard who can bastard well write bastard shit like that bastard well ought to be bastard well stuffed with broken glass, the bastard.
[US]R. Leveridge Walk on the Water 11: It’s a bastard day; I’m bastard well fed-up, and if I weren’t a bastard I don’t know how the bastard hell I could bastard well take it.
[UK]J. Franklyn Cockney 280: Who says I can’t? I’ll bastardwell show the bastard what I can do! He’ll bastardwell see for himself!

In phrases

as a bastard (adv.) (also as a beast, as a cunt) [SE beast/cunt n. (4)]

a general intensifier, usu. with adj.

[US]J. Langone Life at the Bottom 33: The temperature where he lives is always around 80 degrees and it’s rainy as a bastard.
[UK]N. Griffiths Grits 121: Ah’m in no bleedin time at all stoned as a fuckin bastard. [Ibid.] 135: Ah’m fucked. Drunk an stoned as a cunt.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Nov. 1: as a beast – to a great degree: It’s cold as a beast today.
go like a bastard (v.)

(Aus.) to commit oneself unrestrainedly.

[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 194: going at it hammer and tongs is to attack a task enthusiastically. going fit to bust, going like a bastard, going gangbusters and going like billyo have much the same meaning.
it’s a bastard

(orig. Aus.) a phr. for anything considered unpleasant, excessively challenging etc.

[Aus]L. Glassop We Were the Rats ix: The infantry will win the war in the end despite all their tanks and fancy planes; but it’s a bastard.
[UK]A. Sillitoe Sat. Night and Sun. Morning 116: It’s a bastard, though, having to go back to the Army every year.
like a bastard (adv.)

(orig. US) a general intensifier; often with lie or work.

[US]J.D. Salinger Catcher in the Rye (1958) 116: I started wondering like a bastard what the one sitting next to me, that taught English, thought about, being a nun and all, when she read certain books.
[UK]G.W. Target Teachers (1962) 141: He and Dusty laughed like bastards, and she shrugged.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 26 May in Proud Highway (1997) 338: I have been swilling beer like a bastard.
[US]G.V. Higgins Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) 7: Hurts like a bastard. [Ibid.] 15: I was thinking more [...] of you having the prosecutor tell the judge how I’ve been helping my uncle like a bastard.
[US]G.V. Higgins Digger’s Game (1981) 15: I worked like a bastard.
[US]R. Price Blood Brothers 2: If he gave Tommy any bullshit he would get a flick behind the ear that would sting like a bastard.
[Aus]M. Bail Homesickness (1999) 302: I was coughing like a bastard.
[UK]Guardian Guide 12–18 June 30: Pissin’ it down ‘like a bastard’ as some cockney sparra’ in the queue said.
[US]T. Dorsey Florida Roadkill 96: He screamed and ran naked like a bastard through the house.
[UK]N. Barlay Hooky Gear 5: I’m grinnin like a bastard too with the sheer buzz of bein hunted.
[Aus]T. Winton ‘Abbreviation’ Turning (2005) 29: ‘Hurt?’ ‘Like a total bastard,’ she said.
old bastard (n.)

a man, often used as a term of affectionate address.

[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Judgement Day in Studs Lonigan (1936) 832: I’m just a poor old bastard.
[Aus]L. Glassop We Were the Rats 168: ‘G’day, ya old bastard,’ said Jim, and I was amused again at the thought that the Tommies could never get used to our main term of endearment.
[Aus]D. Niland Shiralee 82: You old bastard! Where did you spring—.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ Gone Fishin’ 10: Real old bastard, he is. Good bloke, though.
[US]A. Maupin Tales of the City (1984) 35: Edgar, you old bastard, why aren’t you home pruning the rosebuds?
[Aus]R. Beckett Dinkum Aussie Dict. 7: Bastard: [...] a term of affection as in ‘good old bastard.’.
R. Lemm Milton Acorn 74: We tell each other about our wives His dead, mine lost, his lost before her death: And I say, ‘Bull, you old bastard!’ And he says, ‘Milt, you old bastard!’.
R. Robertson Heroes 132: Poor old bastard, Bayle thought. How can he write a game report without any quotes from the players? Poor old bastard.
S.A. Garcia Cupid Knows Best 93: First off, the old bastard is hale and hearty.