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tosser

/ (ˈtɒsə) /
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noun

British slang a stupid or despicable person

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Word Origin for tosser

C20: probably from toss off (to masturbate)
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

ABOUT THIS WORD

What does tosser mean?

Tosser is a British English slang expression for an obnoxious jerk.

Content warning: this article contains references to sexual content.

How is tosser pronounced?

[ taws-er ]

Where does tosser come from?

The slang word tosser is recorded in the U.K. in the 1970s. It likely derives from the older slang toss off, an expression for masturbation which dates back to the 1700s.

A tosser, then, is someone who masturbates a lot—and so is considered a contemptible person more generally for their self-absorption. This literal sense of tosser may explain the obscene hand gesture that sometimes accompanies use of the term tosser.

While tosser was initially associated with masturbation and sometimes still is, it has spread as a general term for “jerk,” i.e., an obnoxious person. A similar word, though slightly older than tosser, is wanker.

How is tosser used in real life?

The expression tosser is especially associated with the slang of British English, as well as the varieties of English it’s influenced around the world, including Irish and Australian English. It’s especially used as an insult for men. Among familiars, tosser can also be used in a self-deprecating or friendly way.

And of course, tosser can still literally refer to someone who tosses things, like in factories or sports—although its slang sense has likely diminished that use of the term.

More examples of tosser:

“My ex had a huge collection of carnivorous plants, they are amazing. Unlike him, who is a tosser.”
—@merkinabout, December 2018

“Yes, CNBC published a prime example of one of the internet’s most assured paths to hate clicks, a money diary from a rich tosser.”
—Libby Watson, Splinter, December 2018

Note

This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

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