07 April 2008

Bastard: An Etymology

My brother's hilarious etymological analysis of the controversial word "bastard":

"1223, "illegitimate child," from O.Fr., "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. Alternate possibly is that the word is from P.Gmc. *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 is from 1552; use as a vulgar term of abuse for a man is attested from 1830. Bastardize "debase" is from 1587.Who wants to be considered low?"

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