Bugger me!

Discussion in 'English Only' started by sallyjoe, Oct 17, 2005.

  1. sallyjoe Member

    UK English
    How many meanings does the word 'buggar' have and where does it originate from?
  2. whatonearth Senior Member

    UK, English
    I think it's actually spelt "bugger" and it's a BE colloquial term expressing suprise.
    "I just saw a flying pig"
    "Bugger me!"
    The term "bugger" also has a very vulgar meaning in BE (which I won't go into) but I'm not sure where it originated from...
  3. Aupick

    Aupick Senior Member

    Strasbourg, France
    UK, English
    Yikes! :eek: I was about to say that bugger (note the spelling ;) ) originally meant someone who engages in sodomy (ie anal sex), although the word has more or less lost that meaning and has become a fairly harmless insult. 'Bugger me!' is something that my granddad might say (without feeling the need to apologise for it). 'Bugger-all' means 'nothing at all', but is a lot milder than 'sod all' :warn: or... well, you know the other one . (I've just realised what the origin of the verb 'sod' is :idea: . What a great day!) Bugger can be used to describe an unpleasant ('you dirty bugger'), stupid ('you silly bugger') or lucky ('you jammy bugger') person. 'Bugger off!' is a milder form of 'piss off!' :warn: , or the other one that everyone knows.

    But then I looked the word up in the OED (as one should always do before talking about 'original meaning'), and discovered that the word originally meant a heretic. Apparently it derives from 'Bulgarian' because of a sect of Bulgarians who started spreading heresy in the 11th century, and entered French as 'bougre', hence the English 'bugger'. It then came to be applied generally to heretics of any kind. And if you wanted to accuse a sect of heresy in the middle ages, you generally accused them of engaging in sodomy. This is how Philip IV of France put an end to the Order of the Knights Templar in 1307 and took all their riches.

    So! What a great day! I've learnt two fantastic etymologies. Can't wait for the next dinner party I get invited to. :cool: It may be my last...
  4. Jenny* Member

    England - English
    "bugger me!" would be a less polite way of saying "well I never!"

    "bugger off!" means "go away" and is probably less rude than "f*** off"

    "a bugger" is vulgar slang for a sodomite.

    It is also used as a verb when talking about sodomy

    It is often used for someone who you don't like eg. "the stupid bugger" or something that annoys you eg. "the little bugger got away" if you were trying to swat a fly.

    It can be used in a joking, affectionate way eg. "you old bugger"

    "Bugger all" means "nothing"

    It is also used as an exclamation when something's annoyed you, similar to "Shit!" or "Crap!"
  5. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Hi SallyJoe,

    Then there is the eternal AE/BE thing:


    And....my AE unabridged says bugger also means: "a fellow; a lad or child, often used affectionately: a cute little bugger"

    This isn't just an arcane dictionary definition. The word is used that way to describe both children and small animals.
  6. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I can't believe that I am doing this, but in the interest of international understanding....

    Wiki says:
    My own experience confirms that a bogey is indeed the direct equivalent of a booger.
    By my definition (confirmed by WMPG) snot is considerably more liquid than a bogey. A bogey is dried snot. Wiki is wrong (again).
  7. MrPedantic Senior Member

    UK, English
    'Snot quite like that round my way. Here, a "bogey" can be freshly picked.

    I'd say that any bogey consists of snot (dried or otherwise), but not all snot can be called a bogey.

    Streaming mucus can be snot; but there has to be an element of countability, before we can apply "bogey".

  8. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    What's the American equivalent of snot then??
  9. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Going ever farther afield...

    Americans do not have an equivalent of snot. We have snot.

    Note, however, that in addition to mucus, snot is also used to describe a pretentious person.
  10. GenJen54

    GenJen54 Senior Member

    Downright Pleasant, USA
    USA - English
    Yes, as those pretentious snots in grade school used to claim: "You think you're hot snot on a silver platter, when you're really just a cold booger on a paper plate!"

    Sorry, just had to go there.
  11. Jonegy Senior Member

    UK - English
    One of those useless bits of information that seem to imprint themselves on me mind.

    Several years ago, a book I was reading had a chapte on--regarding grafitti.

    The spelling is probably wrong, but apparently the following is carved into the stone of a church/cathedral/whatever somewhere in Italy and is supposedly of circa 1100

    "Il Papa buggari il cardenale
    Il cardenale buggari il biscopi
    il biscopi buggari.........et al"

    I thought it quite funny at the time - hence it stayed in that library of useless information I like to call a brain. (Others have had different descriptions)
  12. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    I apologise for raising so old a thread again, but I have a question regarding the use of "bugger". I first heard it in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, where Jack Sparrow repeats "Oh bugger!" several times. I assumed that it must express a high degree of surprise, despair and all that, but when I looked for this word in my dictionary, I was, well, shocked. Pirates of the Caribbean are generally considered one of those films you can watch with your kids, and I wouldn't expect to hear a slang word in it.:eek:
    So, what about "Oh buger"? Is it more or less 'neutral' expression, like, say, "bugger me"?
  13. MrPedantic Senior Member

    UK, English
    Hello Etcetera

    Expressions such as "silly bugger", "bugger me", "bugger up", and "oh bugger" are now quite mild, in British English; they probably have the same impact as expressions with "damn".

    They also seem to have a slightly jocular or parodic air; they were once much favoured in British public schools, military circles, etc.

    "Buggery" is still mostly used in its literal sense; but I suspect that "bugger" very rarely often evokes its literal meaning in general usage.

    All the best,

  14. . 1 Banned

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    Well bugger me or I'll be buggered are quite common exclamations of surprise down my way. What they really mean to Aussies is that I couldn't be more surprised if I was sodomised.

  15. Kelly B

    Kelly B Senior Member

    USA English
    The movie was made by Americans, as far as I know, most of whom don't know what bugger means in British English and OzE. Even those of us who've heard that association still use it as if it referred to insects.
  16. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Thank you all. :)
    Well, the main characters in the movie are British or at least of British origin, and Captain Sparrow himself is said to be born in India and having served in Royal Navy or something like that, so I wouldn't be surprised at all if the expression "Oh bugger" was used in the film in its British meaning. :)
  17. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Like Mr P, I think bugger is really very mild, especially when bugger is isolated or related to me or it.
    ... bugger ...
    ... bugger it ...
    ... bugger me ...
    ... bugger him ...
    ... bugger you ...

    There you are. One person's classified list of bugger expressions placed in ascending order of risk of causing offence. Note that I don't say in order of offensiveness, because even something like "Oh bugger you, ..." in the right circumstances is no more than an expression of mild irritation amongst friends.

    If you were to search these forums you would, I am sure, find a number of posts including expressions like, "Oh buggrit". This form in particular is one of the characteristic expressions of Foul Ol' Ron, one of the heroes of the Terry Pratchett Discworld books.
  18. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Thanks Panjandrum. :)

    Yes, when I searched the English Only Forum for "bugger", I found a lot of threads where this word occurs. Frankly speaking, I didn't think it is so popular.:)
  19. marvintpa Member

    United Kingdom
    I had some idea that "bugger me" derived from the Russian "Божа мой" - "my God".
  20. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    "Little bugger" in AE is an innocent term, akin to "rascal", and it's absolved of its association with buggery for 99.99% of users.

    Booger is the once-viscous clinker of snot you pick from your nose.

    Boogie is the free-form dancelike activity you pre-disco hippie-dips did (or still do) on the dancefloor or danceground-- sometimes "till you drop."

    Boogey is a derogatory word for a black person. The /oo/ in the dance word is pronounced like the same phoneme in "cook," and in the racial epithet like "kook." The word is derived from jigaboo, I think.

    Bogey is a word for a bad score in golf, or a nickname for Humphrey Bogart. The /o/ is pronounced as in the word "go."

    A bogeyman is a bugbear or imaginary monster invoked to scare small children or coax them into going to be quietly, and though this critter is faintly associated with old-timey Negroes, it is pronounced with the same /o/ as in "book," more like the dance-word than the racial epithet.

    Well, it's time for me to boogie on out of this thread while the gettin's good. Same pronunciation as the dance, but it means "dance" on out of here, or skedaddle.

    I hope all this helps Mike Kellogg sort out his pronunuciation guide. It's a much-needed service we should all try to contribute to.
  21. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    Bugger and buggery come from Old French bougre, from the Medieval Latin Bulgarus = Bulgarian.

    Originally the word meant "heretic", and later acquired the sexual meaning.

    Bougre and bigre are also used in French as an expression of anger or annoyance.

    There are other expressions of surprise where the person is in effect calling down evil on himself.
    Well, I'll be f**ked!
    F**k me!
    Blimey comes from Gorblimey = God blind me!
  22. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Боже мой, actually.;) But that doesn't sound that similar to my ear...
  23. susanna76 Senior Member

    What about "buggeration"?!!!! Is this a new invention? Here's from Milly Johnson, Here Come the Girls.
    Three women wait for a fourth common friend to arrive back on the cruise ship.
    'Has anyone rung her mobile?'
    'Tried it and it's switched off,' said Ven.
    'Oh buggeration. What do we do?'

    Is this a play on some other word ending in 'ation?

  24. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Not a very recent invention. Modeled on "damnation", I guess, with much the same meaning. British jocular.
  25. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    It's definitely not new to me either, Susanna:)

    Somewhat confusingly The Cassell Dictionary of Slang dates it '20th C' and refers the reader to the far milder botheration! ('euph. for buggeration') ... which it dates to 'mid-19th C>'. Work that out.
  26. Sparky Malarky

    Sparky Malarky Moderator

    English - US
    And because I haven't seen it here yet, and to make sure we leave no stone unturned:

    The expressions oh bugger, bugger me, bugger! (for surprise) and such are not used in American English, though we are used to hearing British English speakers use them.

    The term bugger meaning sodomy is in use, but, well, it just doesn't really come up that often in conversation, you know?

    Calling someone a cute little bugger or a mean little bugger, these are in use in American English. At least I don't think they're all that uncommon, because I've used these terms myself. ;)
  27. susanna76 Senior Member

    Thank you Keith B, ewie, and Sparky Malarky. ewie: Yes, that is funny :).
  28. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    Robert the Bugger, eh? :D

    The OED goes on:
  29. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    I was without a computer for a couple of weeks, because the power switch was buggered*. (I did so miss you lot at WR). It's not that vulgar, but talking this way in front of teachers/parents/bosses/etc is not recommended.

    * = "broken", if you haven't already gathered that.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2012
  30. Enquiring Mind

    Enquiring Mind Senior Member

    UK/Česká republika
    English - the Queen's
    There's also "(Oh) botheration!", which sounds a little old-fashioned and quite polite - Dickens used it. It's certainly much milder than "buggeration".
  31. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    "Buggeration" sounds pretty mild to me:)
  32. Enquiring Mind

    Enquiring Mind Senior Member

    UK/Česká republika
    English - the Queen's
    I'm thinking that Miss Jean Brodie's ever-so-well brought up young gels could quite happily say "botheration", but the other one would have had Miss Brodie reaching for the smelling salts...

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