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Bollocks vs bollocking

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  • Bollocks or ballocks is a British English term that is from the old German word for ball. The term is vulgar and is considered a swear word. It can be an interjection that describes something as nonsense or garbage, rubbish. However, the term can also mean a male’s testicles.

    This term is always used in the plural form.

    Bollock or ballock is a verb. It is also British English slang and is extremely informal. It means to scold someone or to harshly criticize a person.

    Bollocking or ballocking is a noun for the actual criticism or scolding that was given.

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    An additional phrase is to bollocks up something is to screw it up or ruin it.

    The spelling alternatives stem from the original German, which was spelled with an a. However, the spelling is much more popular.

    But again, the term is seen as a swearword. To what degree is different from country to country and region to region. Used as a verb seems to be more acceptable to a wider audience. However, if there is any chance of offence, it is best to avoid it altogether.

    Examples

    Everyone who knows what it is like to be treated differently – for being a woman, for being black or Asian or lesbian – knows the argument is bollocks. [Brisbane Times]

    My dad had one of those big wooden HMV record players and if you touched it without his permission, you’d get bollocked. [The Guardian]

    This is the man who spent 40 years on live television, on occasions when the entire nation had tuned in, easily balancing the complicated task of listening to a producer in one ear while Dunphy and Giles – but usually Dunphy, in fairness – gave him a bollocking in the other. [Irish Indepedent]

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    Comments

    1. Bollock is not always a verb. You can refer to your left bollock as in “I would give my left bollock to stick one in that Kate Upton” or it can be used as part of the phrase “to drop a bollock” meaning “to make a mistake”. This is sometimes extend with “shat the bed” to intensify the phrase, for example, “I’ve dropped a bollock and shat the bed here, I’ve left my passport at home and check in closes in 5 minutes!”.

    2. Really?

      And what about the Mother of all these terms, “bollox”? its the noun and verb form all in one. Declines (or mutates, you choose) rather nicely to “bolloxed” past tense, and “bolloxing” in the gerund cycle. Kind of has the Anglo-Saxon swing, too. We like our ‘x’s, when the Francophiles might prefer ‘cks’ in the plural.

      As to ballock being a German word, this seems mighty strange, considering there’s the other word: ‘bullock“ which refers to the male beast entire. Since the genuinely quixotic orthography of English is pretty good at conceding homophonic equivalence to ”bullock ≡ ballock ≡ bôllock“ … I rather think the language itself has bolloxed up the whole darn rational etymological history.

      Or, as my great-great grandpappy provided to a very young wheatseed (me), ”Bullocks have Bôllocks, lad, and don’t you ever bollux them words up“. He was from Pennsylvania where the Dutch (Deutsche) have quite a presence.

      Just saying…

      GoatGuy

      • Banjopicker says:

        Confusingly, a slang term more common in the 1990s in the UK, “the dog’s bollocks”, is used to mean “magnificent”, or “impressive”. Eg. “I’ve just finished building a wall, and the brickwork looks the dog’s bollocks”. This is nowadays commonly shortened to “the bollocks”. Hence we have “that’s bollocks”, meaning “that is rubbish”, and conversely, “that’s THE bollocks”, meaning almost exactly the opposite.

        • Even more irritating, I recently was pointed to a reference that exposed my own historical ignorance of “bullock”, which is a castrated bull. Odd how bôllock ≡ ballock ← bullock ≡ ball-less male bovid … came about.

      • Bollocks!

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