surly bugger

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by hyacinthus, Jan 7, 2010.

  1. hyacinthus Member

    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)?
  2. 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....
  3. Einstein

    Einstein Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    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.
  4. You little ripper! Senior Member

    Australian English
    Here is a summary of how the word is used. If you do a search you'll find many threads on the subject. :)
  5. Curandera Senior Member

    If someone is saying that out loud would you just say:

    'è uno scorbutico'.
    'è uno zoticone'. ?
  6. hyacinthus Member

    Ok, thank you very much for your suggestions!
    Do you think that "buzzurro" or "cafone" would work as well?
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2010
  7. byrne Senior Member

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

    Ok, it's clearer now, thank you very much for your help!

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