lad, chap, guy, bloke, lad, character

happyday

Senior Member
Russia
Hello,
Could you help me to feel the differences between these words? They mean nearly the same, but I would like to put them in order of politeness. If we start with 'gentleman', which one is the next? And which one is the last?
Thanks
 
  • tepatria

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    There really is no hierarchy for these terms. They are simply different words with the same meaning, although lad is used to describe a young boy rather than a man. I'm not sure character fits either as it is a more general description and fits females as well.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Be aware that "bloke" and "chap" are almost never used in American English, and "lad" is rare in American English. The use of "bloke" or "chap" would usually be a deliberate affectation to give a "British" air to what was being said.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The use of "bloke" or "chap" would usually be a deliberate affectation to give a "British" air to what was being said.
    Just to note for other readers, nobody really says "chap" anymore:) (though I can't speak for everyone, I've only heard it in old films / tv programs, from about 20-30 years ago, in normal spoken everyday English, it'd only be used deliberately to sound posh / old fashioned.

    I think the older generation would still use it, but I wouldn't expect it from someone under 40-50.

    Anyway, that's just my opinion. The impression I get from a lot of Americans is that British people speak with the most ridiculous posh accent from the 1950s, as nearly all portrayals of Brits on American TV use this, or a big over exaggerated Cockney accent.. :)
     
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    Nunty

    Modified
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Perhaps it's a generational thing? My good friend (in her sixties) from Rochdale uses "chap" not infrequently when referring to someone. She does not use it in direct speech.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Perhaps it's a generational thing? My good friend (in her sixties) from Rochdale uses "chap" not infrequently when referring to someone. She does not use it in direct speech.
    I think it is:) It took me a while to come up with a safe borderline of age to make a separation that I was comfortable with. I wouldn't be surprised if I heard someone in their 50s/60s using it, young people certainly wouldn't use it, and even the generation above, it had faded out for them, but the one higher, I think it was still fine to use when they were growing up and remained normal usage.
     

    ralife

    Senior Member
    Portuguese
    Hello all.

    I have always heard that the words "bloke" and "lad" are mostly used in the UK, meaning the same thing as dude in the US.

    Is that correct?

    Are these word currently in use?

    The reason of my question is that I fear to use old-fashioned expressions.
    thank you all!
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I still use "bloke" and "lad". I don't say "dude".
    "Bloke" and "lad" are not quite the same. "Bloke" means "man" but "lad means "boy", "youth", except where the word refers humorously/ironically to grown men.
     

    madsh33p

    Senior Member
    English - UK, German - Germany
    I still use "bloke" and "lad". I don't say "dude".
    "Bloke" and "lad" are not quite the same. "Bloke" means "man" but "lad means "boy", "youth", except where the word refers humorously/ironically to grown men.
    I don't fully agree with that. I agree that "bloke" can be used for any man, however, I don't think "lad" necessarily applies to boys or youths. It is quite common to call a group of men that is e.g. in a pub together "a bunch of lads". When a group of men (regardless of age) go out together, this is also often referred to as a "lad's night out" (though there could be an element of humour in this in some cases)
    I do agree, though, that it would be slightly odd to refer to an older man as a "lad", unless in a humorous manner. For example, I wouldn't call my grandad a lad, unless I was joking or winding him up.

    I would say that both "bloke" and "lad" are quite commonly used in the UK. I would not regard either as outdated or old-fashioned.
     

    ralife

    Senior Member
    Portuguese
    Hey,
    thank you VERY MUCH for all the information!
    You have helped me to keep my English updated.

    Cheers!
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Except that I don't remember anybody using "bloke" as a form of address as is disgustingly common in the U.S. with "dude."

    For example, I don't think anybody would address somebody with "Hey, bloke."

    No?
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    Hello all.

    I have always heard that the words "bloke" and "lad" are mostly used in the UK, meaning the same thing as dude in the US.

    Is that correct?

    Are these word currently in use?

    The reason of my question is that I fear to use old-fashioned expressions.
    thank you all!
    Please note that the use of dude in the US is generally limited to young men. See this article (Google Docs version of same article here). It thus differs from bloke and lad, which are, as far as I can tell, used by all ages and by both men and women in the UK.

    Addition: The article concerns the use of dude as a term of address, but it is also used, again mainly by young men, in the sense of "fellow." The American equivalent to bloke and lad in this sense would be guy.
     
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    Spira

    Banned
    UK English
    Please note that the use of dude in the US is generally limited to young men. See this article (Google Docs version of same article here). It thus differs from bloke and lad, which are, as far as I can tell, used by all ages and by both men and women in the UK.
    .
    This is a long article, and I haven't finished yet, but already several times I have come across the statement: The impression that dude is used by young men (under 30) is confirmed by the survey, but young women also used the term a significant amount, particularly when speaking to other women............
    So it's perhaps not just reserved to males.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    This is a long article, and I haven't finished yet, but already several times I have come across the statement: The impression that dude is used by young men (under 30) is confirmed by the survey, but young women also used the term a significant amount, particularly when speaking to other women............
    So it's perhaps not just reserved to males.
    That's why I used the words "generally limited."
     

    Spira

    Banned
    UK English
    OK, point taken, though the writer does employ the term "significant amount" for female usage. Anyway, I get the point that it's still basically a guy's term.
    Guys, by the way, is now used in UK, mainly by and about men, although in the US it's pretty well non-sex identifiable.
    I'm trying to rack my brain for the female aquivalent of bloke and lad in AE.
     

    Spira

    Banned
    UK English
    It pays to be careful in all things.
    There has been, however, a clear tendency in the US to blur the distinction of sex on the word "guy" in the last 20 years. Before, the men were guys, the girls were dolls (or something similar), as in the play. Now you frequently hear girls directly addressing their girl friends as guys, when in groups.
    This blurring has not really occurred in the UK, where Jimmy Saville's "hello there, guys and gals" would still seem correct, even if rather comic.

    PS to Alx. When I was a teenager in London 40 years ago the term "chap" was already considered by my age-group to be old-fashioned, or public-school posh. It all depends on region and social class, I suppose. So you'd have to be my parents' age (80+) to be saying it.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    PS to Alx. When I was a teenager in London 40 years ago the term "chap" was already considered by my age-group to be old-fashioned, or public-school posh. It all depends on region and social class, I suppose. So you'd have to be my parents' age (80+) to be saying it.
    Good heavens, my man! I am nowhere near 80:mad:, and I certainly use "chap":p:p:p.
     

    Disneyesque

    Senior Member
    Korean 
    I heard this on BBC. (Well, precisely it was from a random blog, I spotted the script when I was googling the meaning of 'nick' as a verb.)

    A: So, one of them lost a bike and the other one lost his chocolate biscuits.
    B: Unlucky chaps. Maybe the police can help them.

    How can I understand this line? All of these thread above says that the word is old-fasioned and posh, but it was in the student material from public broadcasting.. should I use the word or not, in this way? I use a 'lad' for boy and 'lass' for girl sometimes

    (They are not totally interchangeable to the word boy/girl as for me. Like, I usually describe my sister 'My sister is a sassy young lass dreaming of becoming an actress.' to people, or say 'Oh, he is such an arrogant lad in a bad manner', in a little lighthearted way.) I thought it could be an adult version of 'lad'...
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I might still use chap or its diminutive chappie - there's probably a lot of regional variation. Is B an older person, a posh person, or given to stylised speech?

    Lass for me feels very Scottish, although I think Americans might also use it.

    No easy answer - it depends very much on who​ you're talking to! ;)
     

    Kayta

    Member
    English - Australia
    lad, chap, guy, bloke, character
    In Australia, I've only heard lad as part of common sayings like "he's a likely lad."
    Chap would only be heard on old British sitcoms.
    Guy is fairly common, often used to refer to a man whose name you don't know. e.g. This guy at the shops told me.."
    Bloke is also common, used similarly to guy but in more informal contexts. e.g. There was this bloke at the pub who..."
    Character I've only heard used as part of a description like "he's a shady character", or "he was quite a character."
     

    Disneyesque

    Senior Member
    Korean 
    Well, I gave a background information in unneccesarily detailed way, so it became distracted and out-of-scope. Just say, A and B are having a very informal chat. A talked about the situations that some boys' belongings were nicked, and after listening to them B said 'Unlucky chaps.' Do you think I can use the word chap in a normal situation nowadays in a same way? Any ideas are welcomed.

    I am always ready to try new expressions, but never want to be a pretender as mentioned in some threads above.
     

    Disneyesque

    Senior Member
    Korean 
    We are crossed, Kayta :) Thank you for introducing another threads, and giving me your thoughts.

    If that's the case, I think the word Chap would make me funny in any way, because I found out when the foreigners learning my mother tongue use a way too local words, it is little odd to me and sometimes seems to be an intended manner.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Well, I gave a background information in unneccesarily detailed way, so it became distracted and out-of-scope. Just say, A and B are having a very informal chat. A talked about the situations that some boys' belongings were nicked, and after listening to them B said 'Unlucky chaps.'
    You can always give a link to the site, princess: click:). And it's an important piece of background that it's the BBC Learning English site - so the dialogue has been constructed with a particular purpose in mind (in this case to explain various meanings of the slang term "nick").

    As to whether you can use the word 'chap' yourself, well, it certainly wouldn't worry me if you did, because I use it. But other contributors have said it sounds rather old-fashioned to them, and you presumably wouldn't want to sound old-fashioned;).
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    I have two online friends in the UK, both men in their 20s, and they still use chaps - a lot, really. Maybe they're being deliberately old-fashioned - it's so hard to tell such things when one converses primarily through emails and PMs - but they really do use the word a LOT, almost as often as lads.
     

    djmc

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    In a mixed group one may get someone saying "Well, are you chaps and chapesses going to go out or shall I make another pot of tea".
     

    Kayta

    Member
    English - Australia
    Must be a regional difference cycloneviv. I'm still surprised when a Victorian friend refers to swimming cossies (swimsuit) which I've never heard locally.

    The only time I've heard chap, apart from old British sitcoms, is as part of a cliched saying, like "he's a lucky chap."
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The people who built the pharaohs' tombs in the Valley of the Kings were referred to as "chaps" by the presenter of a television programme on the subject that I saw yesterday. Five years on from the last post, "chap" remains alive!
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    BBC4. The presenter was Dan Cruickshank. "Guys" doesn't come easily to many BrE speakers of his age (or mine). He did occasionally refer to these very skilled builders as "fellows". "Blokes" would have been disrespectful to the dead, I think.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Thanks, I'll have a look at it. I agree about 'blokes' being socially inferior to 'chaps'. I don't use chap much at all and would never address a group as chaps. It's too jolly hockey for me. I use 'fellow' often, singular only, third party usage.
     
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