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Bugger

Posted: Tue Aug 11, 2020 3:14 pm
by Stevenloan
Hi everybody! In several British films, some people say "bugger off!". According to an online dictionary, it is a rude way of telling someone to go away. Is it also used by native speakers in The US and Canada?

Your answers will be greatly appreciated.

StevenLoan

Re: Bugger

Posted: Tue Aug 11, 2020 3:51 pm
by Erik_Kowal
First, a caveat: it's always dangerous to generalize in response to questions like this.

Having lived many years both in the US and my native England, I would say that many Americans understand the expression, but only a small minority actually use it.

I have no information about how the term is understood or used in Canada.

Re: Bugger

Posted: Tue Aug 11, 2020 5:00 pm
by trolley
The term "bugger" is pretty common in Canada (but it seems you're more likely to hear it from someone who is over fifty years of age). It is often used as a mild "swear word". If something is broken it is "buggered" or "buggered up". It can be used in reference to something that you are not going to do or something that will be disregarded.
"You'll need a permit to have a fire on the beach"
"Bugger that"
It can also be used to describe someone who is foolish or annoying (oddly, often in an affectionate way)
"My Dad was a crazy old bugger"
"Those kids are little buggers"
Most (if not all) of these examples seem to have nothing to do with the literal meaning of the word. They may be connected to the word "bug" which can mean bother or annoy....one who bugs is a bugger.

Re: Bugger

Posted: Wed Aug 12, 2020 11:03 am
by Phil White
As a native British speaker, I fully concur with what trolley says. In particular, when he says that the term "bugger", when applied to a person, is often quite affectionate. My grandmother was from the North West of England and spoke with a beautiful Lancashire accent. I spent a lot of time with her when I was a toddler, and I grew up thinking my name was "thee daft bugger". (I do hope that was affectionately meant!)

A phrase that you rarely hear nowadays that is a pretty direct reference to the original meaning is "bugger handles" to refer to long, bushy sideburns (think Noddy Holder of the 70a band Slade): https://www.shropshirestar.com/resizer/ ... GWVXYE.jpg

I assume that the phrase has disappeared largely because nobody wears side-whiskers like that nowadays!

Re: Bugger

Posted: Wed Aug 12, 2020 1:24 pm
by Erik_Kowal
Phil White wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 11:03 amA phrase that you rarely hear nowadays that is a pretty direct reference to the original meaning is "bugger handles" to refer to long, bushy sideburns
In the part of southern England where I attended secondary school in the 1970s, those were called "bugger's grips".

Sideburns were also regularly called "sideboards", despite their indisputable lack of storage capacity. It reminds me of the differing meanings of "thong" in Australia and the USA.

Re: Bugger

Posted: Wed Aug 12, 2020 1:56 pm
by Phil White
Erik_Kowal wrote: Wed Aug 12, 2020 1:24 pm In the part of southern England where I attended secondary school in the 1970s, those were called "bugger's grips".
On reflection, I may be misremembering the phrase. "Bugger's grips" rings bells.

Re: Bugger

Posted: Wed Aug 12, 2020 11:20 pm
by Bobinwales
I have not come across "bugger's grips" before, and I am sorry if I am stating the obvious, but surely "bugger" in that sense refers to origin of the word rather than the slang.

Re: Bugger

Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2020 12:22 am
by Phil White
Quite so. That's what I said...

Re: Bugger

Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2020 3:21 am
by BonnieL
Those of us who are Terry Pratchett fans got quite an education in the use of "bugger." I don't use the word, but an aunt named her funny little dog Bugger. For her, it was a term of endearment.

Re: Bugger

Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2020 4:35 am
by Erik_Kowal
BonnieL wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 3:21 am Those of us who are Terry Pratchett fans got quite an education in the use of "bugger." I don't use the word, but an aunt named her funny little dog Bugger. For her, it was a term of endearment.
I can't help thinking that your aunt and Phil's grandmother would have made a fearsome pair if they had ever met.

Re: Bugger

Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2020 3:55 pm
by Stevenloan
Erik, trolley, Phil White, Bob and BonnieL : Thank you all so much for your answers. They are helpful and fascinating.

StevenLoan