surly bugger

hyacinthus

Member
Italian
Hello everybody!
I wonder if you may tell me the right meaning of the expression "surly bugger". In the dictionaries I consulted, I found that "bugger" is a very offensive word which was originally connected to heresy (heretics as buggers and sodomites), whereas "surly" is a formal term coming from an alteration of the obsolete form "sirly" (lordly, haughty) meaning bat-tempered or rude.
This expression is uttered by some people addressing a male person, a painter who is rude, violent and doesn't speak too much.
Yet, I still have some doubts about it:

- to what extent is this expression vulgar? is it a sort of taboo word?
- does "surly" indicate just a rude person or rather someone who behaves like a proud aristocrat with no respect for other people (and acting therefore as a rude person)?
- is my translation "fottuto zoticone" acceptable (fottuto = to maintain the vulgar connotation of “bugger”, zoticone = rude person)?
 
  • byrne

    Senior Member
    English - UK (Londoner)
    I wouldn't consider bugger particularly vulgar in BE, it is quite common... so I'd say fottuto is a bit strong..
    surly ususally means someone who is a bit gruff and not a great talker. I personally wouldn't use it to mean haughty...

    è una tizio scorbutico....
     

    Einstein

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    I agree; in spite of its origin "bugger" has lost this meaning and is only vaguely vulgar. For example "silly bugger" could be translated as "scemo", without needing to add anything vulgar.
     

    Curandera

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I wouldn't consider bugger particularly vulgar in BE, it is quite common... so I'd say fottuto is a bit strong..
    surly ususally means someone who is a bit gruff and not a great talker. I personally wouldn't use it to mean haughty...

    è un tizio/tipo scorbutico....
    If someone is saying that out loud would you just say:

    'è uno scorbutico'.
    'è uno zoticone'. ?
     

    hyacinthus

    Member
    Italian
    Ok, thank you very much for your suggestions!
    Do you think that "buzzurro" or "cafone" would work as well?
     
    Last edited:

    byrne

    Senior Member
    English - UK (Londoner)
    No, you can be a surly bugger without being cafone. it's more taciturno, scorbutico, burbero '
     
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