Definition of bastard in English:



  • 1derogatory, archaic A person born of parents not married to each other.

    • ‘Besides, my marriage means my son is a legitimate child, not a bastard as these rumor mongers would have you believe.’
    • ‘I am merely a bastard, born to one of his secondary wives.’
    • ‘To his warped mind it appeared that his natural father had robbed him of his rightful inheritance by having him born a bastard, and this whole affair was no more than the result of his terrible revenge!’
    • ‘He talked to him and convinced him that this wedding should take place as soon as possible because his bride does not want their son to be born a bastard.’
    • ‘For one, a bastard is a child conceived out of wedlock, which you weren't, and for second, I'm sure your parents had every intention of conceiving you.’
    illegitimate child, child born out of wedlock
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  • 2informal An unpleasant or despicable person.

    ‘he lied to me, the bastard!’
    • ‘So we like to judge our actions as those of good people dealing with ‘the real world’, instead of as natural bastards doing what bastards do naturally.’
    • ‘He's a bastard, a brute, an offense to human decency.’
    • ‘I'd be willing to bet that he's been planning this for years… what a lowlife bastard.’
    • ‘All these years I comforted myself by telling myself that I was too good for the irresponsible man, and that I didn't need the good-for-nothing bastard.’
    • ‘Even if you were a reporter like those irritating bastards who hound me every second of every day, you wouldn't know!’
    • ‘She fell out with the ungrateful bastards of that particular branch of my mother's extended family, and we didn't visit that bunch this year.’
    • ‘But although her father hadn't been bad to her, he'd been a complete bastard to her mother, and she hated him for that.’
    • ‘I am a bastard, incorrigible, ungentlemanly and a beast.’
    • ‘To me they were all dogs, scum, idiots, bastards… well, you get the point.’
    • ‘The bastards won't change their behaviour until their business goes under because all the good workers have gone to good employers.’
    • ‘I hate being helpless when those rich powerful bastards beat mother.’
    • ‘Those little bastards who criticise me don't understand.’
    • ‘Names have been changed to protect the bastard.’
    • ‘Had he refused to cooperate, she would have labelled him ‘a bastard, a fascist, an idiot,’ as was her wont.’
    • ‘As last time, we were all a little fatter, balder and/or greyer, apart from the bastards who hadn't changed at all.’
    • ‘Those wretched bastards must be pleased with their work.’
    • ‘Mostly, though, they're bastards but one of them is your bastard.’
    • ‘Soon I'll be allowed to dislike art without old bastards nodding wisely.’
    • ‘I need to stop trying to change people who like being rat bastards.’
    • ‘Okay that was the dumbest speculation I've ever had and you bastards let me say it like some sort of idiot.’
    scoundrel, villain, rogue, rascal, brute, animal, weasel, snake, monster, ogre, wretch, devil, good-for-nothing, reprobate, wrongdoer, evil-doer
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    1. 2.1British [with adjective]A person of a specified kind.
      ‘he was a lucky bastard’
      • ‘Then Stan sent me this, probably the most unfortunate of all, poor bastard!’
      • ‘But, in the end, he settled for the position of Admiral, and watched every other lucky bastard as they boarded, what should have been, his ship.’
      • ‘And in lots of ways I've been a lucky, jammy bastard.’
      • ‘If that's all you have to worry about, Tom, then you are one lucky bastard.’
      • ‘I'm just one of the lucky bastards who got funding.’
      • ‘Even Leo's not half bad in it despite the fact the poor squeaky bastard never has a chance against DDL.’
      • ‘It's not going to be my fault when some poor, watermarked bastard gets dragged off to Guantanamo Bay.’
      • ‘I'm sorry, man, you must be a lonely poor bastard.’
      • ‘He glanced back one more time to his friends in time to catch Alan mouth the words, ‘Lucky bastard.’’
      • ‘He laid down his card and agreed, ‘Lucky bastard.’’
      • ‘I'm desperate to see whether Yoichi finally gets a lucky break - poor little bastard.’
      • ‘The poor little bastard's still out there somewhere.’
      • ‘And I thought, I don't want to bother this poor bastard, but I have to get in to save me boy!’
      • ‘Some people get to go home today - lucky bastards.’
      • ‘You know Kashiro, unlike you I am a poor weak bastard.’
      • ‘I was only trying to be friendly, the poor little bastards must've been starving if nobody was feeding them.’
    2. 2.2British A difficult or awkward undertaking, situation, or device.
      ‘it's been a bastard of a week’
      • ‘And for three skinny fellows, they make an absolute bastard of a guitar racket.’
      • ‘A shorter trip than usual this week - it's hard to travel with a bastard of a headcold.’
      • ‘It's a bastard of a fine line to walk with Wainwright being more self aware than your average flamboyant drama queen opera fan.’
      • ‘But hey, don't give up on me, Jo. It's nearly Christmas, it's been a bastard of a year, and I'd love to talk to you.’
      • ‘Avant garde/underground short films are an absolute bastard to get hold of.’
      • ‘I've read about 100 pages these last two days and gotten a bastard of a headache for my troubles.’
      • ‘If you want my opinion, it's a bastard of a game - swift, bold and beautiful.’
      • ‘Golf is a bastard of a game.’
      • ‘Of course, next time I post I'll probably be sitting here nursing a bastard of a hangover and a misanthropic grudge against the universe as per usual, so make the most of it.’
      • ‘Though, when I do want to make an effort, I face an absolute bastard of a hurdle: my hair.’
      • ‘It was a difficult bastard to empty and move, as it's a ‘waveless’ type and the waddy stuff inside retains heaps of water and makes it heavy.’
      • ‘I've just come down with a bastard of a cold, got me thinking along these lines.’
      • ‘This was an absolute bastard (the descent was also a bit hairy due to a strong sidewind).’
      • ‘After all my rabbiting on about the foolishness of those plebs who choose to spurn the way of the Proper Bow Tie, I've had a bastard of a time for the last couple of days figuring out how the heck you actually tie one.’
      • ‘After taking ages to get ready, and a bastard of a commute, we were running late.’
      • ‘The filling is a bastard of a mix of crunchy water chestnuts, baby corn, cilantro and ground peanuts.’


  • 1derogatory, archaic Born of parents not married to each other; illegitimate.

    ‘a bastard child’
    • ‘An insolent stranger makes an unexpected appearance in Tara's house claiming to be her illegitimate nephew (the bastard son of Padma).’
    • ‘The closest thing to nobility found in our ranks is the bastard son of a petty knight (the captain).’
    • ‘Albert plays Jack, a man who must face up to the fact that he is the bastard child of a rock star.’
    • ‘While the first movie does have more of an adult theme to it (uh, she birthed a bastard child from a married family man), the last two lend themselves to more of a family audience.’
    • ‘After all, it would be disastrous if the people ever found out that she had a bastard child born out of wedlock.’
    illegitimate, born out of wedlock
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  • 2(of a thing) no longer in its pure or original form; debased.

    ‘a bastard Darwinism’
    • ‘English is a bastard language borne out primarily of the mixture of languages of people who successfully invaded the The British Isles (of whom there were several prior to 1066).’
    • ‘Along the way, however, the reader gets a crash course in early comic strips, and it is within the literary tradition of this bastard medium that he defiantly sets his work.’
    • ‘And even though English is the ultimate in bastard languages already, we don't like it so much when cultural globalization works in the opposite direction.’
    • ‘And speaking of which, after a fashion, experiments with new routes into work took me past Chariots, which looks from the outside like the bastard lovechild of a Greek restaurant and an auto repair shop.’
    • ‘Kudos to them as this cd has an appeal many don't but lets face it, they're still rubbing along in a bastard genre, they're just a bit better than most at it.’
    • ‘‘People don't see comedy as an art form, they see it as the bastard son of storytelling,’ he says after we've reached the cafe and ordered the coffee.’
    • ‘I'm guessing that the bug I swallowed this morning was a hybrid of sorts, a bastard child conceived of a drunken cricket and a desperate ladybug.’
    hybrid, alloyed
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    1. 2.1(of a handwriting script or typeface) showing a mixture of different styles.
      • ‘A typeface named Bastard is typical of his often irreverent attitude to the industry of advertising and design.’
      • ‘It’s a bastard typeface, each character stands alone as an independent angular structure.’
      • ‘The Bastard Secretary Hand represents a variation of the Bastard hand, a reform of the court hand, developed in the early 14th century in an attempt to reform the by-now deteriorated standard court hand.’
      • ‘Text occupies a single column in a bastard typeface, while the title-page uses a mixture of bastard and roman type (the latter for Latin text), and of black and red lettering.’
      • ‘The brand new Bastard-family is a modern caps-only display typeface with OpenType features.’


In the past the word bastard was the standard term in both legal and non-legal use for ‘an illegitimate child’. Today, however, it has little importance as a legal term and is retained in this older sense only as a term of abuse


  • (as) happy (or lucky, miserable, etc.) as a bastard on father's day

    • informal Very unhappy (or unlucky, miserable, etc.)

      ‘he looked as happy as a bastard on Father's Day’
      • ‘There I was, 'on my tod', and lonelier than a bastard on Father's Day!’
      • ‘I saw him standing all dressed up with nowhere to go looking as happy as a bastard on Father's Day.’
      • ‘Old Charlie was as confused as a bastard on Father's Day.’
      • ‘The once-proud structure became as unstable as a bastard on Father's Day.’
      • ‘You'd find yourself as lonely as a bastard on Father's Day.’
      • ‘"About as witty as a bastard on Father's Day," Oscar said with fierce humor.’
      • ‘You might say he was as puzzled as a bastard on Father's Day.’
      • ‘I'm already as miserable as a bastard on Father's Day.’
      • ‘"I've got about as much luck as a bastard on Father's Day", laments a punter.’
      • ‘If you and I stay right here we'll be happy as a bastard on Father's Day, mate.’
  • keep the bastards honest

    • Ensure that politicians behave fairly and openly.

      ‘we're going to need someone to keep the bastards honest’
      • ‘He has tried to paint himself as the party that keeps the bastards honest.’
      • ‘The candidates will be viewed as 'the infighting bastards', rather than candidates that can 'keep the bastards honest'.’
      • ‘The best parliaments happen when independents are keeping the bastards honest.’
      • ‘We keep the bastards honest and we have the mechanisms to keep ourselves honest too.’
      • ‘He warned politicians on Wednesday, "I'm not here to keep the bastards honest; I'm here to get rid of the bastards."’


Middle English: via Old French from medieval Latin bastardus, probably from bastum packsaddle; compare with Old French fils de bast, packsaddle son (i.e. the son of a mule driver who uses a packsaddle for a pillow and is gone by morning).