Bastard used to be a not nice thing you called a child whose parents weren’t married. But now it’s a more general insult hurled toward a jerk or bad person. Bastard can also simply mean “fraudulent.”

This is a great example of how words change in meaning over time. Today, if you were called a bastard, it probably has nothing to do with whether or not your parents are married: it just means someone doesn’t like you (unless they call you a magnificent bastard, which is a compliment). Bastard can also mean phony or fake, like a bastard version of French that is not correct. When you think bastard, think illegitimate.

Definitions of bastard
  1. noun

    the illegitimate offspring of unmarried parents

    by-blow, illegitimate, illegitimate child, love child, whoreson
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    type of:

    issue, offspring, progeny

    the immediate descendants of a person

  2. noun

    derogatory term for a variation that is not genuine; something irregular or inferior or of dubious origin

    “the architecture was a kind of
    bastard suggesting Gothic but not true Gothic”
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    type of:


    an artifact that deviates from a norm or standard

  3. noun

    insulting terms of address for people who are stupid or irritating or ridiculous

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    type of:

    disagreeable person, unpleasant person

    a person who is not pleasant or agreeable

  4. adjective

    fraudulent; having a misleading appearance

    bogus, fake, phoney, phony

    counterfeit, imitative

    not genuine; imitating something superior

Word Family