Bollocks vs bollocking

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Grammarist

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.

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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