Definition of bovver in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈbɒvə/


[mass noun, usually as modifier] British informal
Hooliganism or violent disorder, especially as caused by gangs of skinheads: a bovver boy
More example sentences
  • This rough assumption brings other troubling implications in its wake, like cultural bovver boys.
  • He was no bovver boy and could have passed for a city gent: clean cut, camel coat, a product of his times.
  • Thanks to a mindless nucleus of bovver boys, they are loathed the length and breadth of Europe, and often beyond.


1960s: representing a cockney pronunciation of bother.

  • bother from late 17th century:

    The origins of bother are in Ireland. It is probably related to Irish bodhaire ‘deafness’ and bodhraim ‘to deafen, annoy’. It is first recorded meaning ‘noise, chatter’. In the 18th century emphasis moves to worry, annoyance, and trouble. The word quickly spread out of its Anglo-Irish confines, and in the 19th century appears as a common mild oath in the works of Dickens and Thackeray. The late 1960s gave us bovver, ‘deliberate troublemaking’, which represents a cockney pronunciation of the word. The bovver boy (a hooligan or skinhead) wore bovver boots, heavy boots with a toe cap and laces. The Catherine Tate Show, introduced and popularized the catchphrase ‘Am I bovvered?’ in 2004.

Words that rhyme with bovver


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: bov¦ver

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Related Words