3

Today my laptop battery died while I was finishing off a sticky note and so naturally I just went 'Oh, bollocks!'. After all, it didn't warrant one of the "big six"; it was more a "damn" moment. So I opted for "bollocks". I didn't think it was rude; it was just fun to say.

I was around a colleague at the time and they gave me a bit of a look (and, frankly, an 'Excuse me?!'). They told me that it's just another way of saying "bullshit", yet based on their response, obviously not a euphemism. (I'm sceptical though. I know the dictionary says "balls", but it didn't say anything about "bullshit".) I've always thought that "bollocks" is just one of those great British words that are relatively harmless but fun to say, like "bugger" or "sugarbush".

So, is it actually rude? Or is it just rude to some people?

(If it's relevant, I live in Australia.)

6
  • Big six? one, two, three, four (no that doesn't fit), four,.. I can't think which ones you're thinking of. Which list are you using?
    – Mitch
    Jun 17 '16 at 15:54
  • @Mitch The S-, F-, B-, C-, T- & M- words. The ones I consider to be true swear words.
    – Dog Lover
    Jun 18 '16 at 11:45
  • 1
    There are people to whom saying "f*ck" every third word is not considered "rude".
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 18 '16 at 18:33
  • And of course there is 'the dogs bollocks' meaning very good or the best thing!
    – Nigtay
    Jul 20 '17 at 5:46
  • I think this is primarily opinion based, because it depends on how you and other people perceive curse-words, and depends heavily on what the context is. Jul 20 '17 at 6:48
1

British south-wester here. Honestly bugger is a mild word, bollocks would be considered stronger, yet still acceptable (as opposed to vulgar, depending on how you say it).

Also i have never once heard the word "sugarbush" not even in films.

2
  • Sugarbush sounds Aussie to me? Or South African? We say "sugartits" here in the US, when w're trying to be deliberately demeaning, or anyway want to be lynched. How does "bloody" rank as a swear in the UK? Mild, moderate, lynchable?
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 18 '16 at 0:52
  • @dan-bron In the UK bloody is far milder than bugger or bollocks; t's around the same level as damn. Inappropriate for a child to say but uncontroversial for an adult imo.
    – k1eran
    Aug 28 '16 at 17:03
4

The British courts are on your side; quoting Wikipedia ...

Perhaps the best-known use of the term is in the title of the 1977 punk rock album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols. Testimony in a resulting prosecution over the term demonstrated that in Old English, the word referred to a priest, and could also be used to mean "nonsense". Defence Barrister Join Mortimer QC and Virgin Records won the case: the court ruled that the word was not obscene. It just means "put aside all of that other rubbish and pay attention to this."

and the British House of Commons, quoting Hansard (ie. the minutes from UK parliament)

Michael Gove [...] Well, let’s listen to the words of the shadow International Trade Secretary, the hon. Member for Brent North (Barry Gardiner), when he was asked about those six tests. He summed them up pithily in a word which in Spanish translates as “cojones” and in English rhymes with “rollocks.” I know, Mr Speaker, that there are some distinguished citizens in this country who have put on their cars a poster or sticker saying “Bollocks to Brexit”, but we now know from Labour’s own Front Bench that its official Brexit position is “bollocks.” [Interruption.] I am quoting directly from the hon. Member for Brent North, and I am sorry that he is not in his usual position, because it is not the role of the Government to intervene in how the Opposition dispose of their positions but I have to say that the shadow International Trade Secretary is a jewel and an ornament to the Labour Front Bench: he speaks the truth with perfect clarity, and in his description of Labour’s own policy may I say that across the House we are grateful to him—grateful to the constant Gardiner for the way in which he has cast light on the testicular nature of Labour’s position?

Sir Edward Davey: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Have you made a new ruling on parliamentary language that I am not aware of?

Mr Speaker: I have made no new ruling on parliamentary language. I was listening, as colleagues would expect, with my customary rapt attention to the observations of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural ​Affairs. I richly enjoyed those observations and particularly his exceptionally eloquent delivery of them, which I feel sure he must have been practising in front of the mirror for some significant number of hours, but on the subject of that which is orderly—because a number of Members were chuntering from a sedentary position about whether the use of the word beginning with b and ending in s which the Secretary of State delighted in regaling the House with was orderly—the answer is that there was nothing disorderly about the use of the word; I think it is a matter of taste.

Michael Gove: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

0
2

If you speak 'British' and define "swear words" as vulgar slang, then yes. Otherwise this is all poppycock.

bollocks

bol·locks
/ˈbäləks/
British vulgar slang
noun
plural noun: bollocks; plural noun: ballocks; noun: bollix; plural noun: bollixes

  1. the testicles.
  2. used to express contempt, annoyance, or defiance.

Google

1

Yes it is. A bollock is a small ball, and I'll let you work out exactly what kind of ball it's talking about.

It's a relatively mild swearword but you shouldn't use it in polite company. You'll hear it on late night TV but not mainstream and definitely not kids shows.

9
  • Do Brits not curse all the time? I know we do around here. Though "around here" is, to be fair, NYC and Wall St. Maybe they don't curse in Kansas, either.
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 16 '16 at 3:09
  • 1
    @DanBron I think it's safe to say that people will swear no matter where they are.
    – Dog Lover
    Jun 16 '16 at 4:09
  • DJ, is it on the same level as "crap", or is it worse?
    – Dog Lover
    Jun 16 '16 at 4:11
  • +1 So far, this is the best input. Though I'd call it a rude word. To me, a swear word is a word that is definitely rude and offensive, and thus usually gets dubbed "the [X]-word", so really "shit", "fuck", the disgusting one, "twat", "bitch" and the other disgusting one.
    – Dog Lover
    Jun 16 '16 at 6:55
  • 1
    @DogLover It's impossible for a word to be "definitely" offensive, because what someone takes offence at is never definite; It depends on their mood, upbringing, and vocabulary. There are words I don't mind in a good mood that'll tick me off when I'm disgruntled, and my boundaries are different to those of my friends, and all of us are native AuE speakers who wouldn't recognise obscenities from an unfamiliar dialect... (Plus, if there was a word that offended everyone, always, no-one would ever want to say it.)
    – user867
    Jun 16 '16 at 7:14
1

Bollocks, while not "formal" language, and certainly not the kind of thing you say around Queeny and Prince Charles, is not considered a swear word (considered a bit vulgar) and, in fact, would generally be more acceptable than "bugger". It's very unlikely someone will call you out on that kind of language.

Note: This answer applies for British English and may not be the case for many other variants.

Source: British

4
  • Who is "considered a bit vulgar" please?
    – Kris
    Jun 17 '16 at 7:31
  • @Kris sorry, to clarify, the word is considered a bit vulgar, the brackets may have been a bit confusing. Jun 17 '16 at 8:30
  • The word is considered much more than "a bit" vulgar, and there are a lot of situations in which someone will "call you out" on it. Since all those situations would be one that operate a "no swearing please" policy, you would have to logically conclude that it is a swear word. Jun 17 '16 at 15:30
  • 1
    @MaxWilliams Simply stating your disagreement isn't going to change anybody's mind, if you want to debate the topic then at least tell us why you would know better or give me a bit of material evidence. Jun 17 '16 at 15:37

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.