Git (slang)

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Git /ˈɡɪt/ is a term of insult denoting an unpleasant, silly, incompetent, annoying, senile, elderly or childish person.[1] As a mild[2] oath it is roughly on a par with prat and marginally less pejorative than berk. Typically a good-natured admonition with a strong implication of familiarity, git is more severe than twit or idiot but less severe than wanker, arsehole or twat when offence is intended.[2][3][4]

The word git first appeared in print in 1946, but is undoubtedly older.[citation needed] It was popularly used by the British army in the First World War at Gallipoli, the Egyptian and Mesopotamian campaigns where the British would abuse their Turkish adversaries by shouting the vulgar, “siktir git!”; (f*ck you) the soldiery (mistakenly) believing that “git” was part of the offensive expression meaning “you” (but in a derogatory way). An alternative suggestion for the etymology is that it is an alteration of the word get, dating back to the 14th century.[5] A shortening of beget,[6] get insinuates that the recipient is someone's misbegotten offspring and therefore a bastard.[7] In parts of northern England, Northern Ireland and Scotland get is still used in preference to git.[8]

The word has been ruled by the Speaker of the House of Commons to be unparliamentary language.[9][10]

Notable usage[edit]

John Lennon calls Walter Raleigh "such a stupid get" in The Beatles song, "I'm So Tired".[11]

"Randy Scouse Git" is a song written by Micky Dolenz in 1967 and recorded by The Monkees. It was the first song written by Dolenz to be commercially released, and it became a number 2 hit in the UK where it was retitled "Alternate Title" after the record company (RCA) complained that the original title was actually somewhat "taboo to the British audience".

It was in self-mocking spirit that Linus Torvalds named his Git version control system.[12][13]


  1. ^ Ayto, John; Simpson, John (2005), The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0198610521
  2. ^ a b "TV's most offensive words". The Guardian. 21 November 2005.
  3. ^ Hughes, Geoffrey (2006), An encyclopedia of swearing: the social history of oaths, profanity, foul language, and ethnic slurs in the English-speaking world, p. 200, ISBN 9780765612311
  4. ^ McEnery, Tony (2006), Swearing in English: bad language, purity and power from 1586 to the present, Routledge, p. 30, ISBN 9780415258371
  5. ^ "git | Origin and meaning of git by Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  6. ^ Grose, Francis (1785), Classical dictionary of the vulgar tongue, S. Hooper
  7. ^ Harper, Douglas. "git". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  8. ^ "Dictionaries of the Scots Language:: SND :: get n".
  9. ^ Hughes, Geoffrey (2006), An encyclopedia of swearing: the social history of oaths, profanity, foul language, and ethnic slurs in the English-speaking world, p. 477, ISBN 9780765612311
  10. ^ Hunt, M; Maloney, Alison (1999), Joy of Swearing, Michael O'Mara Books, ISBN 9781843171621
  11. ^ "I'm So Tired". The Beatles.
  12. ^ "GitFaq: Why the 'git' name?". Git SCM Wiki.
  13. ^ McMillan, Robert (19 April 2005), "After controversy, Torvalds begins work on git", InfoWorld, ISSN 0199-6649