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My girlfriend and I were having an argument over something that her female friend had said about me, which I found rude and displeasing. My girlfriend responded to my complaint by saying "What do you want to do, bash her up?" She thinks this phrase is normal, but for me, there's something inherently wrong about it, especially given that the implied meaning is a guy (me) beating up a girl, and even if it was meant to be an ironic statement. Am I getting too sensitive over what is perhaps just a harmless idiom, or should I stick to my gut feeling?

I picked up my English in North America, whereas my girlfriend did in Malaysia/Singapore, and so there's a good chance that it might just be a cultural difference, but for me that doesn't change my feeling that it's offensive.

  • I would interpret "bash her up" in the above to mean "have sex with her" (a slightly less extreme sense than "knock her up"), absent contextual clues to the contrary. But it could mean other things, such as "ruin her reputation". Unlikely to imply inflicting physical injury. – Hot Licks Apr 5 at 17:39
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    @HotLicks In British English "bash up" is definitely to inflict physical injury on someone. It sounds slightly dated to me (I don't think I have heard it since I was at school). – user323578 Apr 5 at 18:19
  • @ Hot Licks, in this case she meant 'physically injure': there's absolutely no ambiguity about the sense in which the phrase was used. The issue is about whether it's an appropriate phrase to use even as irony. – oritatami Apr 5 at 19:23
  • I will note that "bash" is commonly used to mean "impugn ones character" in the US. US politicians are constantly bashing each other, and no one gets arrested for assault. – Hot Licks Apr 5 at 22:07
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"Bash her up" alone is offensive or not depending on how it's used.

For example,

  • if you complaints were so strong that your girlfriend interpreted your displeasure might result in physical harm to someone else her question might be valid.
  • If your complaints were reasonable/rational and your girlfriend was being hyperbolic her question is over the top generating a "Why would you ever think I would harm someone?" kind of response - offensive.

Other examples:

  • If I read a story about someone who hurt someone else I might say "That was terrible, he really bashed him/her up" and it would just be a description of what happened.
  • I might crash my car and say "I bashed her up"

It's all about the context of the statement.

  • Thanks for the response. Do you mind telling me what your cultural background this? Because it seems relevant in this case. NA, UK, and Singaporean people all seem to have different takes on this. – oritatami Apr 5 at 20:35
  • I live in NA. People from different countries have a different take on whether context matters? People from different countries have different takes on whether "bash her up" is offensive in all contexts? – David D Apr 5 at 23:44
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to bash up is the idiom TFD and is neutral in it's use.

to strike and dent or damage something

"What do you want to do, bash her up?" would imply you wish to visit physical harm upon her. Offensive remarks are in the ear of the receiver. Each person will weigh what you've said against their own sense of what's tolerable.

  • Yeah, but not when followed by the word girlfriend....It is the same as beat her up. The OP's context seems to be contextually sarcastic.... – Lambie Apr 6 at 21:51

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