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  1. a person born of unmarried parents; an illegitimate child.
  2. Slang.
    1. a vicious, despicable, or thoroughly disliked person: Some bastard slashed the tires on my car.
    2. a person, especially a man: The poor bastard broke his leg.
  3. something irregular, inferior, spurious, or unusual.
  4. bastard culverin.
  1. illegitimate in birth.
  2. spurious; not genuine; false: The architecture was bastard Gothic.
  3. of abnormal or irregular shape or size; of unusual make or proportions: bastard quartz; bastard mahogany.
  4. having the appearance of; resembling in some degree: a bastard Michelangelo; bastard emeralds.
  5. Printing. (of a character) not of the font in which it is used or found.

Origin of bastard

1250–1300; Middle English < Anglo-French bastard, Medieval Latin bastardus (from 11th century), perhaps < Germanic (Ingvaeonic) *bāst-, presumed variant of *bōst- marriage + Old French -ard -ard, taken as signifying the offspring of a polygynous marriage to a woman of lower status, a pagan tradition not sanctioned by the church; compare Old Frisian bost marriage < Germanic *bandstu-, a noun derivative of Indo-European *bhendh- bind; the traditional explanation of Old French bastard as derivative of fils de bast “child of a packsaddle” is doubtful on chronological and geographical grounds

Synonyms for bastard

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for bastard


  1. informal, offensive an obnoxious or despicable person
  2. informal, often jocular a person, esp a manlucky bastard
  3. informal something extremely difficult or unpleasantthat job is a real bastard
  4. old-fashioned, or offensive a person born of unmarried parents; an illegitimate baby, child, or adult
  5. something irregular, abnormal, or inferior
  6. a hybrid, esp an accidental or inferior one
adjective (prenominal)
  1. old-fashioned, or offensive illegitimate by birth
  2. irregular, abnormal, or inferior in shape, size, or appearance
  3. resembling a specified thing, but not actually being sucha bastard cedar
  4. counterfeit; spurious
Derived Formsbastardly, adjective

Word Origin for bastard

C13: from Old French bastart, perhaps from bast in the phrase fils de bast son of the packsaddle (that is, of an unlawful and not the marriage bed), from Medieval Latin bastum packsaddle, of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for bastard

"illegitimate child," early 13c., from Old French bastard (11c., Modern French bâtard), "acknowledged child of a nobleman by a woman other than his wife," probably from fils de bast "packsaddle son," meaning a child conceived on an improvised bed (saddles often doubled as beds while traveling), with pejorative ending -art (see -ard). Alternative possibly is that the word is from Proto-Germanic *banstiz "barn," equally suggestive of low origin.

Not always regarded as a stigma; the Conqueror is referred to in state documents as "William the Bastard." Figurative sense of "something not pure or genuine" is late 14c.; use as a vulgar term of abuse for a man is attested from 1830. As an adjective from late 14c. Among the "bastard" words in Halliwell-Phillipps' "Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words" are avetrol, chance-bairn, by-blow, harecoppe, horcop, and gimbo ("a bastard's bastard").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper