How to swear British-style


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This is a whole series. Now I know what I’m going to be watching for the rest of the day. I do wish, though, there had been a bit of etymological discussion for the origin of “sod” as a swear word. Give me a moment while I check the Oxford English Dictionary.

Oh, according to it the use of “sod” as a swear word derives from its use meaning “One who practises or commits sodomy”. That probably would have been a bit strong for this video. After all she doesn’t deal with “bugger”.

When Four Weddings & A Funeral was shown on regular network TV here in the US I tuned in to see how they’d deal with Hugh Grant’s repeated use of “Fuck!” They replaced it with “bugger”. We silly Americans!


This is a good start. Then go rent In the Loop. :smile:


That’s OK. It took me ages to work out what “melon farmer” meant. Two languages, 99% of words look the same, about 40% have similar meanings.


I prefer muddy funster.


I remember Michael Cane explaining the origin of the two-finger insult. When bowmen were captured, one of their fingers was cut off. At the beginning of battle, when the opposing armies faced each other, the bowmen would stand on the hill and raise their two fingers, showing that they were ready for battle.


But apparently it’s just a nice story, there’s no evidence for it.


The most British swearing known to man must be Brian Blessed repeatedly shouting ‘BOLLOCKS’ with his arm in ice-water, being watched by Stephen Fry:

The same BBC TV programme featured some great freestyle swearing from Mr Blessed as well:


Also, it would have been just the English bowmen. The longbow was the Panzerfaust of its day, capable of stopping the armoured cavalryman just as the Pzf could stop a tank. The Burgundians et al had no answer to it at first, hence the dramatic success of the Anglo-Normans.
On which note I mention a joke of that era; on one occasion the Burgundian watchword was “À Beaumont le vicomte”, but it was leaked to the opposition who amused themselves by shouting at the enemy “À beau con le vit mont” (Google is your friend here, NSFW). Sadly as apocryphal as the origin of the two finger gesture.



I also love the way Craig Ferguson does it.


Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

(I will watch anything that has both Brian blessed and stephen fry in it)


That’s been popping up on my netflix list for some time and it’s bloody time. To. See. It.


That etymology gets repeated a lot, despite it being obvious bollocks. The gesture goes back before the long bow, perhaps to Roman times, or even earlier. It seems to have a shared meaning/root with the raised middle finger and the obscene version of the “cornuto.”
It’s funny, the other folk etymology I hear a lot is “by our lady” for “bloody,” which I’ve read so much I thought it was true until now. I guess swear words/gestures end up with a lot of weird, incorrect attempts to explain them.


Yeah, it’s difficult to find the true origins of a lot of common phrases and gestures. They usually have vague or multiple origins, and the most colorful one usually gets picked up.


D I I I I I I I I I I I I V E !!!
: )


This particular conflation of England with Britain is particularly galling to this Scot.


I really feel like there is an important and frequently used British profanity that wasn’t covered here.