Definition of bastard in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbɑːstəd/


1 archaic or derogatory A person born of parents not married to each other.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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!
illegitimate child, child born out of wedlock
dated love child, by-blow
archaic natural child/son/daughter
2 informal An unpleasant or despicable person: he lied to me, the bastard!
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • The bastards won't change their behaviour until their business goes under because all the good workers have gone to good employers.
  • As last time, we were all a little fatter, balder and/or greyer, apart from the bastards who hadn't changed at all.
scoundrel, villain, rogue, rascal, brute, animal, weasel, snake, monster, ogre, wretch, devil, good-for-nothing, reprobate, wrongdoer, evil-doer;
Spanish picaro
informal scumbag, pig, swine, louse, hound, cur, rat, beast, son of a bitch, s.o.b., low life, skunk, nasty piece of work, ratbag, wrong 'un
British informal git, toerag, scrote
Irish informal spalpeen, sleeveen
North American informal fink, rat fink
West Indian informal scamp
Australian/New Zealand informal dingo
informal, dated cad, heel, rotter, bounder, bad egg, bad lot, dastard, knave, stinker, blighter
archaic blackguard, miscreant, varlet, vagabond, rapscallion, whoreson
vulgar slang sod, bugger, shit, fucker
North American vulgar slang fuck, motherfucker, mofo, mother
2.1 [with adjective] British A person of a specified kind: he was a lucky bastard
More example sentences
  • I'm desperate to see whether Yoichi finally gets a lucky break - poor little bastard.
  • Then Stan sent me this, probably the most unfortunate of all, poor bastard!
  • If that's all you have to worry about, Tom, then you are one lucky bastard.
2.2British A difficult or awkward undertaking, situation, or device: it’s been a bastard of a week
More example sentences
  • I've read about 100 pages these last two days and gotten a bastard of a headache for my troubles.
  • 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.
  • 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.


1 archaic or derogatory Born of parents not married to each other; illegitimate: a bastard child
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • An insolent stranger makes an unexpected appearance in Tara's house claiming to be her illegitimate nephew (the bastard son of Padma).
  • 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
archaic natural
2(Of a thing) no longer in its pure or original form; debased: a bastard Darwinism
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
hybrid, alloyed;
adulterated, impure, inferior
2.1(Of a handwriting script or typeface) showing a mixture of different styles.
Example sentences
  • It’s a bastard typeface, each character stands alone as an independent angular structure.
  • 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 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.


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

Australian informal Very unhappy (or unlucky, miserable, etc.): he looked as happy as a bastard on Father’s Day
More example sentences
  • 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 might say he was as puzzled as a bastard on Father's Day.

keep the bastards honest

Australian Ensure that politicians behave fairly and openly: we’re going to need someone to keep the bastards honest
1980s: from a slogan of the Australian Democrats, formulated by its founder Don Chipp (1925–2006), alluding to the party's role in holding the balance of power in the Senate
More example sentences
  • He warned politicians on Wednesday, "I'm not here to keep the bastards honest; I'm here to get rid of the bastards."
  • We keep the bastards honest and we have the mechanisms to keep ourselves honest too.
  • He has tried to paint himself as the party that keeps the bastards honest.



Pronunciation: /ˈbɑːstədi/
sense 1 of the noun.
Example sentences
  • No word yet if they'll marry to save the child from bastardy.
  • Yes, it is a small organization intent on removing the stigma of bastardy from illegitimate children.
  • Local communities, however, punished ordinary persons convicted of bastardy severely, out of fear that bastards might become a financial burden on the parish.


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).

  • Bastard probably derives from medieval Latin bastum ‘packsaddle’ (a horse's saddle which was adapted for supporting loads); the French equivalent was fils de bast or ‘packsaddle son’. The reference was to a loose-living mule driver who used a packsaddle for a pillow and the next morning was off to the next town. See also bat

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: bas|tard

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