Origins of Common Words - Bastard

About the history, origins, and definitions of the common word bastard.

UNCOMMON STORIES BEHIND COMMON WORDS

Bastard - Of disputed origin, the term is probably a combination of the Old French bast, "packsaddle," and the pejorative ending ard. His packsaddle was a muleteer's pillow, not infrequently shared, while on the road. Like terms include the French coitrart, or "quilt-child"; the German Bankling, or "bench-child"; the low German Mantelkind, or "cloak-child"; and the Old Norse hrisungr, or "brushwood-child." The later "love child" was simply a Victorian euphemism. In legal terminology, bastard was the word applied to the illegitimate but acknowledged son of a prince or nobleman; William the Bastard was a common epithet, no insult intended, for William the Conqueror.

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