bugger all


[buhg-er, boog-]
Bugger is a vulgar word used in vernacular British English, Irish English, Australian English, New Zealand English, South African English, Indian English, and occasionally also in Malaysian English and American English. Today, the term is a general-purpose expletive, used to imply dissatisfaction ("bugger, I've missed the bus"), or used to describe someone or something whose behaviour is in some way displeasing ("the bugger's given me the wrong change"/"my computer's being a bit of a bugger").


Etymologically, a "Bugger" was a "Bulgre" (French Bougre). Originally, it was derived from the French word "Bougge­rie" ("of Bulgaria"), meaning the medieval Bulgarian clerical sect of the Bogomils, which facing severe persecution in Bulgaria spread into Western Europe and was branded by the established church as particularly devoted to the practice of sodomy.

The word is also used amongst friends in an affectionate way (you old bugger) and is used as a noun in Welsh English vernacular to imply that one is very fond of something (I'm a bugger for Welsh cakes). It can also imply a negative tendency (He's a silly bugger for losing his keys) [i.e He's a fool for losing his keys often].

A colloquial phrase in England (and often in New Zealand and Australia as well) to denote or feint surprise at an unexpected (or possibly unwanted) occurrence is "Bugger me, here's my bus" or "Well, I'm buggered!". It can also be used to indicate a state of fatigue, such as "I'm buggered."


The word 'buggery' serves a similar purpose as a mild expletive and can be used to replace the word 'bugger' as a simple expletive or as a simile as in the phrase It hurts like buggery or in apparently meaningless phrases such as Run like buggery. The past tense is also used as a synonym for 'broken', as in "Damn, this PC's buggered," "Oh no! I've buggered it up," or "it's gone to buggery." Also a term used by the British to denote sodomy or a sodomite, as in "he likes to bugger little boys."

The phrase bugger off (bug off in American English) means to run away [Let's bugger off out of here]; when used as a command it means "go away" ["piss off", "get lost" or "leave me alone"], which is generally considered one of the more offensive usage contexts. Bugger all means "Nothing" [I got bugger all for it]. The Bugger Factor is another phrase to describe the phenomenon of Sod's Law or Murphy's Law. In the UK, the phrase Bugger me sideways (or a variation thereupon) is sometimes used as an expression of surprise.

It is famously alleged that the last words of King George V were "Bugger Bognor", in response to a suggestion that he might recover from his illness and visit Bognor Regis. Variations on the phrase bugger it are commonly used to imply frustration, admission of defeat or the sense that something is not worth doing, as in bugger this for a lark or bugger this for a game of soldiers.

As with most other expletives its continued use has reduced its shock value and offensiveness, to the extent the Toyota car company in Australia and New Zealand ran a popular series of advertisements where "Bugger!" was the only spoken word. The term is generally not used in the United States, but it is recognised, although inoffensive there. It is also used in Canada more frequently than in the United States but with less stigma than in other parts of the world. In the pre-watershed Television version of Four Weddings and a Funeral the opening sequence is modified from repeated exclamations of "Fuck!" by Hugh Grant and Charlotte Coleman when they are late for the first wedding to repeated exclamations of "Bugger!".

There are yet other English speaking communities where the word has been in use traditionally without any profane connotations whatsoever; for instance, within the Anglo-Indian community in India the word "bugger" has been in use, in an affectionate manner, to address or refer to a close friend or fellow schoolmate.

"Bagarap" (from "buggered up") is a common word in the Tok Pisin language of Papua New Guinea, meaning "broken," "hurt" or "tired", as in "kanu i bagarap", "the canoe is broken" or "kaikai i bagarap", "the food is spoiled." "mi bagarap pinis" ("me buggered up finish") means, "I am very tired," or "I am very ill." The 'a' is pronounced long, like the a in 'father'. The term was put to use in the album "Bagarap Empires" by Fred Smith, which was made to capture the peace process in Bougainville, an island province of Papa New Guinea; in a number of the songs he uses Melanesian pidgin, the language used in Bougainville and elsewhere.

Buggers' charter

In 1978 Judge Aubrey Melford Steed Stevenson famously called the British Sexual Offences Act 1967 a "buggers' charter".


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