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Old 03-29-2006, 09:15 AM
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Is "bloody" still regarded as a profanity in the UK?

Twenty-some years ago, I was in the UK and was told that "bloody" was the equivalent of "fuck," and would never be used in polite company. These days it seems much more commonplace - has it been drained of its offensiveness for most Brits? Under what circumstances would it still be unacceptable?
Old 03-29-2006, 10:07 AM
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It's not as offensive as most other swear words, but you wouldn't use it in polite company.
Old 03-29-2006, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Dominic Mulligan
It's not as offensive as most other swear words, but you wouldn't use it in polite company.

What exactly doe it mean?

And are there dual uses for the word? For instance, if you cut yourself would it be acceptable to say your hand was bloody from a cut?
Old 03-29-2006, 10:15 AM
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It's an adjective, so not really the equivalent of "fuck" - closer in usage to "fucking" but nowhere near as offensive.

"Bloody Americans and their misuse of our profanities!"

One wouldn't exclaim "Bloody!" but may have an outburst of "Bloody hell!". As Dominic Mulligan said, it's not polite, but is a rather tame swear word. It's a bit too tame for me - I tend to avoid it .
Old 03-29-2006, 10:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pkbites
What exactly doe it mean?

And are there dual uses for the word? For instance, if you cut yourself would it be acceptable to say your hand was bloody from a cut?
I never associate a specific meaning with it when used as a profanity. It's just used to demonstrate your disatisfaction with something.

"The bloody car's packed up again!" doesn't literally mean that your broken car has blood on it, just like "Fucking traffic!" doesn't mean you believe the cars in the queue are copulating.

It can be used to describe something that has blood on it, as you suggest, but normally one would say "my hand has blood on it" rather than "my hand is bloody" because of the confusion you may cause. "Bloody what? Bloody sore?"
Old 03-29-2006, 10:23 AM
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IThis point actually just came up in the UK. An Australian ad campaign with the tag line "So where the bloody hell are you?" just caused a stir in the UK and a lot of confusion in Oz.

http://dailytelegraph.news.com.au/st...001022,00.html
Old 03-29-2006, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pkbites
What exactly doe it mean?

And are there dual uses for the word? For instance, if you cut yourself would it be acceptable to say your hand was bloody from a cut?
It's perfectly alright to say your hand is bloodied / bloody when cut.

It's used in mostly the same contexts as where "fucking" and "pissing" would be used.

i.e.

Jesus BLOODY Christ, my foot, you moron!
Jesus FUCKING Christ, my foot, you moron!
Jesus PISSING Christ, my foot, you moron!
Old 03-29-2006, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by SuperTramp
Right, you’re bloody well right
You know you got a right to say
Ha-ha you’re bloody well right
You know you’re right to say
Old 03-29-2006, 10:42 AM
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Americans hear that Brits find it offensive and wonder what's the fuss. Everyone gets a little bloody while shaving, what's the big deal?

It's a vestige of Christian faith: Originally it was an invocation of the Passion, Scourging, Crown of Thorns, and Crucifixion of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ the Onlybegotten Son of God (as filmed most bloodily by Mel Gibson). That's what's the big deal.

The faith itself may be gathering dust on the metaphorical closet shelves of Britain, but the emotional charge it attached to the word survives long after its relevance is forgotten.
Old 03-29-2006, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir
Under what circumstances would it still be unacceptable?
You won't hear it on kids' shows*. You won't hear a politician use it (unless they're quoting Shakespeare).

It's something my mum** might use when miffed, I can't imagine she has ever used the f-word.


* Tho' you might hear flippin' 'eck

** Think Margo from The Good Life.
Old 03-29-2006, 10:43 AM
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The religion got dropped from English ejaculations of similar origin, for example "Gazdooks!" (< God's hooks, i.e. the nails of the Crucifixion).
Old 03-29-2006, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johanna
Americans hear that Brits find it offensive and wonder what's the fuss. Everyone gets a little bloody while shaving, what's the big deal?

It's a vestige of Christian faith: Originally it was an invocation of the Passion, Scourging, Crown of Thorns, and Crucifixion of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ the Onlybegotten Son of God (as filmed most bloodily by Mel Gibson). That's what's the big deal.

The faith itself may be gathering dust on the metaphorical closet shelves of Britain, but the emotional charge it attached to the word survives long after its relevance is forgotten.
I read once it was a contraction of "By our Lady", ie: Mary (Virgin, Monther of Christ, etc.). I can see it, especially given the Gadzooks: "By our Lady", "B'Lady", "Bloody".

Still Christian, of course.

So: Cite?
Old 03-29-2006, 11:35 AM
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So do Brits find it disturbing that the phrase is commonly used in the Harry Potter movies? These are clearly aimed at children, even if they have grown darker.
Old 03-29-2006, 11:45 AM
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Quote:
It's a vestige of Christian faith: Originally it was an invocation of the Passion, Scourging, Crown of Thorns, and Crucifixion of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ the Onlybegotten Son of God (as filmed most bloodily by Mel Gibson). That's what's the big deal.

My understanding is that the origin of "bloddy" as an emphatic word are by no means clear and settled. I once read a boomk (by, I think, Ashley Montague) that listed something like 14 suggested origins for the word, including the two given above. Some seemed more likely than others, but none was entirely convincing.
Old 03-29-2006, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by zoid
So do Brits find it disturbing that the phrase is commonly used in the Harry Potter movies? These are clearly aimed at children, even if they have grown darker.
Not really. I think I read a Roald Dahl book when I was small which had a character describe another as a "pissworm". It's hardly something that's worth getting worked up over.
Old 03-29-2006, 12:28 PM
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Learn something everyday.

I always took "bloody" to be more or less like saying "damned".

I stand corrrected.
Old 03-29-2006, 01:43 PM
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There has been a cultural change in the UK over the last fifty to seventy years.

Before the war, bloody would not have been said in front of 'respectable' women or children, but was common among working class men. The F and C words were more rarely used still. Bloody was rarely heard on radio/TV until the early seventies, and despite the fuss caused by rock groups and dramatists in the sixties and seventies, the F word was rarely heard on TV or printed in newspapers until the late eighties. The C word is still largely unacceptable on TV, but becoming less so and is now often spelled out in full in newspapers.

Bloody has become largely inoffensive to all but a few (usually elderly) people.
Old 03-29-2006, 04:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pjen
There has been a cultural change in the UK over the last fifty to seventy years.
Bloody has become largely inoffensive to all but a few (usually elderly) people.
A friend in the UK told me that while "bloody" is largely inoffensive, "bleeding" can still raise eyebrows. True?
Old 03-29-2006, 04:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pjen
...The C word is still largely unacceptable on TV, but becoming less so and is now often spelled out in full in newspapers....
Would that be "Christ"? "Cunt"? "Cocksucker"? "Constable"? "Conservative"?
Old 03-29-2006, 04:34 PM
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Cthulhu?
Old 03-29-2006, 04:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Labdad
A friend in the UK told me that while "bloody" is largely inoffensive, "bleeding" can still raise eyebrows. True?
No. Although it may be a generational thing.
Old 03-29-2006, 04:48 PM
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There's a pretty good article explaining the current state of the term and if I could figure out how to include a link here, I could send you there and you could read it. Let's see now....http://boston.com/news/globe/ide...s_to_swear_by/

did that do it?
Old 03-29-2006, 04:53 PM
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Standards have changed even in my lifetime. I got sent out of class in the 1980s for using the word "hell" during a lesson. "Bloody" was similarly problematic. But now, it's commonplace, and while not necessarily used on children's shows, is not the sort of thing that's reserved for the "watershed" (the 9pm deadline on terrestrial TV before which "fuck" can't be used, or tits-n-asses be shown).

Which is why I was so surprised about the whole kerfuffle regardin the Australian ad campaign. I liked the ad, though. Or rather, the chick in the bikini who says it.
Old 03-29-2006, 04:54 PM
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Here's the ad. Great URL, too!
Old 03-29-2006, 04:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CC
There's a pretty good article explaining the current state of the term and if I could figure out how to include a link here, I could send you there and you could read it. Let's see now....http://boston.com/news/globe/ide...s_to_swear_by/

did that do it?
Yep - although the disclaimer at the end of the article, that the adverts would end up being run after all, has come to pass
Old 03-29-2006, 07:04 PM
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Correct me if I've got the story wrong....but "Pygmalion" included the word (Eliza Doolittle says "not bloody likely") which caused quite a stir -- given that it's still controversial, I can imagine that it was even more so, 100 years ago.

The film version of My Fair Lady doesn't use the line, but strives for the same effect by having Eliza cheer her horse on with "move your bloomin' arse".
Old 03-29-2006, 07:09 PM
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A common Shakespearean curse is s'blood, which is a contraction of By His Blood (He being Christ). I always considered 'bloody' to be derivative of that.
Old 03-30-2006, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yojimbo
IThis point actually just came up in the UK. An Australian ad campaign with the tag line "So where the bloody hell are you?" just caused a stir in the UK and a lot of confusion in Oz.

http://dailytelegraph.news.com.au/st...001022,00.html
Now upsetting family groups in the US, too.

Bloody stupid.
Old 03-30-2006, 08:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by First Amongst Daves

Your link is broken, but I'll take your word for it and add my two cents that this is the stupidest thing I've heard in a long time. I don't know anyone who's an American by birth that says "bloody" as the Brits do.
Old 03-30-2006, 01:16 PM
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And another one: now the Canadians competing in the idiocy stakes. Not for the word "bloody" but for the reference to beer. Mooseheads.
Old 03-30-2006, 06:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cluricaun
Your link is broken, but I'll take your word for it and add my two cents that this is the stupidest thing I've heard in a long time. I don't know anyone who's an American by birth that says "bloody" as the Brits do.
Likely it's the "hell" part they're upset about. I was talking yesterday to an adult woman who actually said, "h-e-double hockey sticks" rather than utter the H-word.
Old 03-30-2006, 09:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cluricaun
Your link is broken, but I'll take your word for it and add my two cents that this is the stupidest thing I've heard in a long time. I don't know anyone who's an American by birth that says "bloody" as the Brits do.
I don't know where I picked it up from - either from watching the BBC on PBS, or comics and other books, but I've used it ever since I found out its connotation as a teenager. It was a 'safe' way to swear in public.

I never had a complaint til my first year at college after high school, early '90's. My algebra teacher was Indian via Britain. I made a comment on a paper, about what I can no longer remember, but used the word. He wrote a short note back for me to mind my language. Oops. No damage done really. I sensed he was more surprised to just see it (a good 3000 miles from the British Isles), then offended.
Old 03-31-2006, 01:19 AM
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are you kidding of course its acceptable in Britain

Ere now mind you dont tread on the bloody slaughterhouse floor
Where should I put this bloody murder weapon
How do you like your steak sir Bloody
Old 03-31-2006, 07:17 AM
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This segues naturally into the story about the bishop who goes to a steakhouse and orders a rare steak. He is appalled to hear the waiter yell "One bloody steak!" in the direction of the kitchen, but he calms down when he hears that this is how rare steak is referred to in the trade.

So when he comes back a few days later with the curate, and is served by the same waiter, he roguishly orders "Two bloody steaks". And as the waiter is writing it down, the curate adds "And get us some fucking chips as well!".

The Pygmalion reference is right. And talking of "damn", there was a mild kerfuffle when HMS Pinafore was first staged, because the plot hinges on Captain Corcoran saying "Damme!" at one point. The Revd Dodgson was quite upset, and produced a little monograph on the subject.

Royal use of "the B-vord" is nothing new. Princess Anne, who was quite the pottymouth in her youth, was famously quoted as saying it upwards of thirty years ago.
Old 03-31-2006, 07:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cluricaun
Your link is broken, but I'll take your word for it and add my two cents that this is the stupidest thing I've heard in a long time. I don't know anyone who's an American by birth that says "bloody" as the Brits do.
http://smh.com.au/news/national/...083882873.html

Here is a live link. Its the word "bloody" which is causing offence, not "hell".
Old 03-31-2006, 08:44 AM
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During the eighties, I worked with a young woman who had been raised in Hong Kong, mid-to-late twenties in age, I'd say. We got a new manager (American), and I remember her saying that she thought he was OK, but (in a very lowered voice just to me) "why does he keep using that awful word?" I can't remember if I needed clarification or not, but the word she was objecting to was "bloody." He'd picked if up from working with some British guys intensely earlier in his career. I had to explain to her that in the US, it wasn't considered a swear word at all, but rather an innocuous substitute for one, like Darn or Drat. I disliked that manager intensely, but didn't think it was fair to condemn him for that one.

I suppose it's quite possible that Hong Kong is more straight-laced in that respect than Great Britain itself. I don't know about Hong Kong per se, but the Asian societies I've been exposed to have been more community- and less individual-oriented than western societies, and thus more inclined to follow rules in such matters.
Old 03-31-2006, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Malacandra
And talking of "damn", there was a mild kerfuffle when HMS Pinafore was first staged, because the plot hinges on Captain Corcoran saying "Damme!" at one point.
But..but...he never swears a big, big D. Well, hardly ever.

I always wondered if the "damme"in Pinafore was controversial. Thanks.
Old 03-31-2006, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by First Amongst Daves
http://smh.com.au/news/national/...083882873.html

Here is a live link. Its the word "bloody" which is causing offence, not "hell".
From the article, a representative of the American Family Association is quoted as saying: ""I guess they use it all the time in Australia, but it's a foreign language here so I think it'll have a negative impact rather than positive."

Yup, different country so it must be a different language.
Old 04-02-2006, 12:57 PM
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I've generally gathered that the etymology is a contraction of the common Catholic expression "by our Lady," which is in some dispute, but then again after the Act of Supremacy was enacted and swiftly followed by the Treason Act it was probably not terribly politic (or smart, or conducive to continued existence) to use expressions which would mark one as a Catholic adherent.

Reasonably speaking, this etymology would give the word the emotional freighting necessary to keep it active as a rude expression, while not being a very strong or offensive word in and of itself.
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