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Wednesday
Sep052012

Talking Bollocks

Bollocks is a swear word common in the UK and Ireland but seldom heard in the US. The word goes way back in history to at least the 14th Century, and like many swear words it is versatile and has different meanings depending on the context in which it is used.

The literal (And original.) meaning is “Testicles,” but it is uttered upon any kind of mishap or disappointment. This is the way it is used in the above Volkswagen commercial video. In a similar situation in the US a person would usually say “Shit.”

The word can also mean “Bull Shit.” “That’s all Bollocks” or “That’s a Load of Bollocks,” would be a common usage. Someone “Talking Bollocks,” is talking nonsense or is full of shit.

A politician giving a speech might be heckled by someone in the crowd who sings out, “What a Load of Bollocks,” in that same “Nah nah nah nah nah” way that children use.

Someone giving another a hard time or being overly critical might get a response of “Bollocks;” in other words “Fuck you.” A person might tell a coworker, “The boss wants you to do this.” The defiant answer might be, “Bollocks, I ain’t doing that.” Meaning, “Fuck it, I’m not doing that.”

Later in the day the same worker is seen doing the very thing the boss told him to do. He tells his coworker, “The boss called me in his office and gave me a right Bollicking.”

In America a “Bollocking” would mean “Getting your ass chewed out.” A guy might say to a friend, “I stayed out late last night and the wife gave me a bollocking, and told me to get home early tonight.”

Anything that is “The Dog’s Bollocks,” is cool, or Kool. “Come look at these custom wheels I’ve just put on my car.” “Oh yea… That’s the Dog’s Bollocks.” Or possibly, “Look at you all dressed up in your new suit, aren’t you the Dogs Bollocks.”

In the 1920s there was an upper class catch phrase, “The Cat’s Pajamas.” The Dogs Bollocks was probably a working class version of the Cat’s Pajamas. Sometimes “The Bollocks” is used in this context, as opposed to just plain Bollocks.

If you, “Drop a Bollock,” (Note the singular, one Bollock.) it means “You Screwed Up.” Someone might tell you, “You made a Right Bollocks of that job.” Or “You really Bollocksed that one up.” If something is broken, or no longer works, it is “Bollocksed.”

“Did you go to the game last night?” “Yea, they played Bollocks.” Or “They were Bollocks.” Meaning they were bad, played poorly, or generally sucked. “The highlight of the whole evening was when someone ran out on the field, Stark Bollock Naked.”

The term "A Kick in the Bollocks" (Not to be taken literally.) would be a severe setback in life. “His wife left him.” “Well that’s a Kick in the Bollocks.”

If someone "Has you by the Bollocks," you are in a difficult situation that will be hard to extricate yourself from.

In winter you might “Freeze your Bollocks off.” Or you can “Work your Bollocks off.” In the same way in America you can “Freeze or work your ass off.”

In 1977 the British Punk group The Sex Pistols, had an album titled “Never Mind the Bollocks, it’s the Sex Pistols.” They were subsequently taken to trial for obscenity. The group won, and the case was thrown out when the defense was able to argue that Bollocks was simply an old English word that had fallen out of general use.

This is by way of an education for any American vacationing in Britain or Ireland. Trying to explain America to the Brits or any European for that matter, is like trying to explain the desert to a squid.

It is best not to talk politics; you might be accused of “Talking Bollocks.” Someone might give you a "Bollocking," or if you find yourself in the wrong part of London or Glasgow, Scotland, you might get a "Swift Kick in the Bollocks." (Literally.)

Try not to “Drop a Bollock,” and you might just be considered “The Dog’s Bollocks.”

 

                       

Reader Comments (9)

You forgot "How about bollocks?" - used as a colourful refusal to do something. Eg: "would you wash my car?"
"how about bollocks:.

Great post as usual Dave.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJW

JW,
I have been away from the UK for 33 years and street language is constantly evolving and changing. I like "How about bollocks." A little more humorus and friendly than just "Bollocks," which is basically a "Fuck you."
Dave

September 5, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Dave,
Semantics but it's a Bollocking rather than Bollicking. I've seen your version but not often!

Of course, while you can indeed be had by the bollocks they may be more likely to have you by the short and curlies!

All in all a wonderful explantion of English as used by the English! You rope in Scots and Irish - I've not heard it from them to the same extent but they have their own rich variations.

Other profanity which is confusing to Americans are the words shit and crap which are common both here and there but are used differently.

September 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPBA

PBA,
"Bollicking" was a typo, I corrected it. I would differ on the American use of "Shit" and "Crap." It is used where you would say "Bollocks" in the UK; "Talking Shit" "That's a load of crap," for example. Something is Shit or Crap if it is bad. eg. "The movie was crap." "That team can't play for shit." another common saying, "Watch out when the shit hits the fan." meaning big trouble is brewing that will affect everyone.
Crap can be used on TV but not Shit. Old ladies say "Shoot" instead of "Shit" and "Fudge" instead of "Fuck," much in the same way "Blooming" and "Blinking" are used instead of "Bloody" in the UK.
Dave.

September 6, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Many New York riders heading up 9W stop at Bunbury's Cafe in Piermont for the house coffee: Dog's Bollix.

The motto? "Wake up and smell the dog."

September 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterleroy

Dave: This was actually riveting and very enlightening. Thank you!

Now, since you've brought up "bloody," could you explain that one for us Yanks? It appears to be even more commonly used than the various forms of bollocks, but it's never made much sense to me.

Thanks!

September 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris

I just got a packet of Diesel Only decals for my TDI in the mail from VW. I hear from the dealer that there has been a rash of people in the US putting the wrong fuel in their cars.

Even a small amount of petrol will bollocks your motor.

Clever ad.

September 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIl Bruce

That would get you by the short and curlies - another and perhas less painful version ...

September 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterr francis

Dogs Bolox was also the name given to an early Chas Roberts mountain bike.

March 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterYoav

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