General English

  • noun a person whose parents are not married
  • noun a nasty person or nasty thing



  • noun the standard term for an illegitimate person has been used as a term of abuse, disapproval, pity or even affection (particularly in British and Australian usage) since the early years of the 20th century

Origin & History of “bastard”

The idea underlying the word bastard appears to be that of a child born of an impromptu sexual encounter on an improvised bed, for it seems to echo Old French fils de bast, literally ‘packsaddle son’, that is, one conceived on a packsaddle pillow. If this is the case, the word goes back to medieval Latin bastum ‘packsaddle’, whose ultimate source was Greek bastázein ‘carry’; this passed via Old French bast, later bat, into late middle English as bat, which now survives only in batman (18th c.). The derived form is first found in medieval Latin as bastardus, and this reached English via Old French bastard. Its modern usage as a general term of abuse dates from the early 19th century.