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The term is used in the vernacular British English, Australian English, Canadian English, New Zealand English, South African English, Indian English, Pakistani English, Caribbean English, Malaysian English and in Sri Lankan English.
It is derived from Anglo-Norman bougre, which has also given the term buggery.
Bugger—also bowgard, bouguer (ancient French – bougre): from Latin – Bulgarus, a name given to a sect of heretics who were thought to have come from Bulgaria in the 11th century, afterwards to other "heretics" to whom abominable practices were imputed in an abusively disparaging manner.
The slander is thought to have started around the early 13th century, after Pope Innocent III and the northern French kingdom went on the Albigensian crusade, which led to the slaughter of about 20,000 men, women and children, Cathar and Catholic alike and brought the region[clarification needed] firmly under the control of the King of France. The brutal crusade was directed not only against heretical Christians, but also against the nobility of Toulouse and vassals of the Crown of Aragon. The populace of Provence and Northern Italy sympathized with the victims of the crusade because of their moral purity. It was then that the Catholic clergy launched a vilifying campaign against them, associating them with unorthodox sexual practices and sodomy.
The word may be used amongst friends in an affectionate way and is used as a vernacular noun to imply that one is very fond of something (I'm a bugger for Welsh cakes). It can also imply a negative tendency (He's a silly bugger for losing his keys) [i.e., He's a fool for often losing his keys].
In some English speaking communities the word has been in use traditionally without any profane connotations. For instance, within the Anglo-Indian community in India the word bugger has been in use, in an affectionate manner, to address or refer to a close friend or fellow schoolmate. In the United States it can be a rough synonym to whippersnapper as in calling a young boy a "little bugger".
As a verb, the word is (potentially accidentally[clarification needed]) used by the British to denote sodomy. In the UK, the phrase "Bugger me sideways" (or a variation of this) can be used as an expression of surprise. It can be used as a synonym for "broken", as in "This PC's buggered"; "Oh no! I've buggered it up"; or "It's gone to buggery". In Anglophone Southern Africa, also in Australia and the UK, "buggered" is colloquially used to describe something, usually a machine or vehicle, as broken.
The phrase "bugger off" (bug off in American English) means to go, or run, away; when used as a command it means "go away" ("get lost" or "leave me alone") and is also used in much the same type of relatively softly 'offensive' manner.
"I'm buggered" or "I'll be buggered" is used colloquially in the UK (and often in New Zealand and Australia as well) to denote or feign surprise at an unexpected (or possibly unwanted) occurrence. "I'm buggered" can also be used to indicate a state of fatigue. In this latter form it found fame in New Zealand in 1956 through rugby player Peter Jones, who—in a live post-match radio interview - declared himself "absolutely buggered", a turn of phrase considered shocking at the time.
It is famously alleged that the last words of King George V were "Bugger Bognor", in response to a suggestion that he might recover from his illness and visit Bognor Regis. Variations on the phrase "bugger it" are commonly used to imply frustration, admission of defeat or the sense that something is not worth doing, as in "bugger this for a lark" or "bugger this for a game of soldiers".
As an interjection, "bugger" is sometimes used as a single-word expletive. "Buggeration" is an interchangeable derivation occasionally found in British English.
As with most other expletives, its continued use has reduced its shock value and offensiveness: thus the Toyota car company in Australia and New Zealand ran a popular series of advertisements where "Bugger!" was the only spoken word (with exception of an utterance of "bugger me!") (frequently repeated); they then ran a "censored" version of the ad in which "Bugger!" was bleeped out, as a joke against those who spoke out against the ad, claiming it was offensive. The term is generally not used in the United States, but it is recognised, although inoffensive there. It is also used in Canada more frequently than in the United States but with less stigma than in other parts of the world. In the pre-watershed television version of Four Weddings and a Funeral the opening sequence is modified from repeated exclamations of "Fuck!" by Hugh Grant and Charlotte Coleman when they are late for the first wedding to repeated exclamations of "Bugger!".
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"Bagarap" (from "buggered up") is a common word in Pacific pidgins such as Tok Pisin of Papua New Guinea, Brokan (Torres Strait Creole) of Australia and Papua and others, meaning "broken", "hurt", "ruined", "destroyed", "tired", and so on, as in Tok Pisin "kanu i bagarap", Brokan "kenu i bagarap", "the canoe is broken" or Tok Pisin/Brokan "kaikai i bagarap", "the food is spoiled." Tok Pisisn "mi bagarap pinis" ("me bugger-up finish") means, "I am very tired," or "I am very ill", while the Brokan equivalent, "ai pinis bagarap" is more "I'm done in", "I'm finished/I've had it". The term was put to use in the album Bagarap Empires by Fred Smith, which was made to capture the peace process in Bougainville, an island province of Papua New Guinea; in a number of the songs he uses Melanesian pidgin, the language used in Bougainville and elsewhere.
Children, a term so inoffensive in the United Kingdom that there is a series of professional teaching manuals with titles that start "Getting the little buggers to ..."
To mess around, to do something ineffectively.
|Look up bugger all in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
The phrase "bugger me" is a slang term used for a situation that has yielded an unexpected or undesirable result.
Common usage includes "bugger me dead" and "bugger me blind".
Colloquial military term for a disorderly group—either assembled without formation or in a formation that does not meet the standards of the commentator: "just form a bugger's muddle", "there's a bugger's muddle of civvies hanging around the gate", "Get that bugger's muddle of yours fallen in properly".
|Look up bugger off in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
The phrase "bugger off" is a slang or dismissive term meaning "leave". See also "fuck off."
|Look up buggery in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
The word buggery today also serves as a general expletive (mild, moderate or severe depending on the context and company), and can be used to replace the word bugger as a simple expletive or as a simile in phrases which do not actually refer literally in any sense to buggery itself, but just use the word for its informal strength of impact, e.g., Run like buggery, which is equivalent to Run like hell but would be regarded by most listeners as more obscene.
- Partridge, Eric (1966) . Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English. p. 66.
- Cheney, Christopher R. (1976). Innocent III and England. Stuttgart: Anton Hiersemann.
- Bogomilism Study.
- For an example of this inoffensive usage, see "A Partially True Autobiography" by Bruce Lansky
- Rohrer, Finlo (12 May 2004). "Are judges politically correct?". BBC News. "The well-known judge was once reprimanded by the lord chancellor for calling the Sexual Offences Act 1967 a "buggers' charter"."
- Norquay, Kevin (November 11, 2006). "For more than a century it has been a Garden of Eden ablaze with sporting colour..". Eden Park Residents Association.
- "If you wish upon a star, make sure you are awake". The Southland Times. 11 September 2008. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
- Bagarap in The Jacaranda dictionary and grammar of Melanesian pidgin by F. Mihalic (1971). Retrieved on 2009-01-21.
- Quinion, Michael. "Embuggerance". World Wide Words. Retrieved 2009-02-23.
- "Aussie Sayings". McGuinnessOnline.