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9 Comments

  • Just an observation from an American: people often rearrange “ass backwards” to say “bass ackwards.”

    I think it’s only partially due to a halfhearted attempt to avoid swearing, but more along the lines of expressing the screwed-upness of the situation.

  • Another note from an American, this time one living in Germany.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this list of terms, many of them new to me, some long-known (e.g. bedroom community) or completely logical (e.g. backgrounder) to me.
    The term “bodge” (UK) reminds me very much, in sound and in meaning, of “botch” — is there really a difference, or is this just a form of the old word “botch”?
    And is “braw” related at all to “brawny”? A brawny fellow, depending on the circumstances, can be “very good, pleasant or attractive” 🙂 !

  • ass backwards is surely the american version of head over heels which can also be expressed arse over tit which means exactly the same thing.

    Perhaps it would be interesting to see how and where these expresions arose and see if the army and navies of the relevent countries imported the phrase or if they are independent.

  • In fact “braw” isn’t British but Scots (the dialect of lowland Scotland, whose most famous exponent is Robert Burns): see e.g. http://www.scots-online.org
    It features in the semi-joking phrase “It’s a braw bricht moonlicht nicht the nicht”.
    No connection with “brawny”, Rebecca: it’s a variant of “brave” in its original meaning of good or fine (as in a “brave new world”).

  • UK for ‘bedroom community’ = ‘dormitory town’.
    UK for ‘big tent’ = ‘broad church’.

  • I’d have said that in BrE “botch” means “to perform an action or task wrongly”, as opposed to “bodge” being something like “do a bad or incomplete, but not necessarily entirely ineffective, task”.