a bog standard loft

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Senior Member
‘Only if you are into obsolete TV aerials and antique Christmas decorations.’ Max coughed. ‘A bog standard loft. Lots of tatty old lagging between the rafters and a couple of water tanks, and that’s it.’
Source: The Stolen Boys by Joy Ellis
Context: Police is searching a hostel. Max is a detective sergeant.

What does bog in a bog standard loft mean? crappy?

Thank you.
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    No, it's a bit of a mystery why we say that. 'Bog standard' just means very ordinary; it doesn't mean it's bad.

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    OED says:
    Etymology: Origin uncertain; perhaps an alteration of box-standard adj. (although this is first attested later), after bog n.4
    Differing theories of the origin of bog-standard have been proposed, but none proven. An immediate association with bog n.1 seems unlikely on semantic grounds. The most commonly held view is that the transition from box to bog resulted from a mishearing or misunderstanding of box-standard n.​

    The "box-standard" suggestion is plausible, (meaning as it comes, out of the box; what we might now call "vanilla"), except that I never remember having heard the term used and the earliest citation is 1983 (curiously, like the most common modern use of "vanilla", in association with computers). Bog-standard has a citation from 1962 whose usage (in a used car advert) suggests it was well known by then.

    "bog n.4" links to the definition of "bog" meaning lavatory.
    "bog n.1" is an area of permanently waterlogged ground


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I understand it but it's definitely a BE thing, I think.

    Here's a very interesting Google ngram comparison. It's definitely a BE thing but it only shows that phrase appearing measurably in 1975. What happened in 1975? It goes up like a rocket after that, especially after 1990.

    Google Ngram Viewer


    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    "Try to avoid the highly coloured ones and just go for the bog standard stuff" (note, "colour" = BE)
    From "How to catch a fish" Ross Waters 1965
    Not a fan of the "box-standrd" explanation :D I have vague memories of "bog standard" when I was at school early 60s and we called the loo the bog and I wondered why "bog" standard even then :)
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