GEN-MEDIEVAL-L ArchivesArchiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2001-08 > 0997029906
From: "John Steele Gordon" <>
Subject: Bastards (present company excepted)
Date: Sun, 05 Aug 2001 16:45:06 GMT
References: <3B6869B2.email@example.com>, <3B6CA75A.F1A94C33@no.spam.interfold.com>, <3B6D6F0F.9B2E7998@cwcom.net>
"Renia" <> wrote in message
> There has been more than one definition of bastard, though I don't know
> whether it has any bearing on the discussion.
> Lloyds dict 1893:
> In historical usage, it can mean the name given to certain bandits, who
> in the fourteenth century rose in Guienne, and joining with the English,
> set fire to various towns. So called, because they were headed by the
> illegitimate sons of noblemen, who, on account of being basards, were
> incapable of inheriting property.
> It has also meant anything curious, counterfeit or false.
Robert Battle wrote:
> Sure he wasn't just a jerk who lived in Exeter? ;-)
The use of the word as an epithet, divorced from the meaning of
illegitimacy, started about 1600, according to the Random House Dict. of
Amer. Slang. The oldest quote, 1598, is from Ben Jonson.
I don't know if it is more than coincidence, but suspect it is, that it was
also about this time that being a bastard in the original sense began to be
socially stigmatized much more severely.