I wondered where this came from

The word “bad” originally meant a feminine man.

It did? In what language? When? And how commonly?

And I find out that it is – and of course it is – being entirely misunderstood.

bad (adj.)
c. 1300, “inadequate, unsatisfactory, worthless; unfortunate;” late 14c., “wicked, evil, vicious; counterfeit;” from 13c. in surnames (William Badde, Petri Badde, Asketinus Baddecheese, Rads Badinteheved). Rare before 1400, and evil was more common until c. 1700 as the ordinary antithesis of good. It has no apparent relatives in other languages.* Possibly from Old English derogatory term bæddel and its diminutive bædling “effeminate man, hermaphrodite, pederast,” which probably are related to bædan “to defile.”

So, no, it didn’t then. It is derived from, at best, but never did mean that.

15 thoughts on “I wondered where this came from”

  1. I wonder if “When Carrie met Dicky” will attract the punters. That fatal and nasty combination of arrogance and stupidity, plus a tub of lube

  2. And the whole world has to
    Answer right now
    Just to tell you once again
    Who’s bæddel

  3. There is plenty of everyday language that derives from a derogatory view of left-handedness, however despite being so afflicted I’m a grown-up so it doesn’t bother me.

  4. Noel, me too. It has never occurred to me that we need a victim mythology of our very own for the sinisterly-inclined, even though there is real discrimination in the form of items designed for the dextrous alone, as well as the derogatory language.

  5. Baddecheese as a surname is a fvcking hoot!

    As many names denoted trades, or personal characteristics, one must assume either the paterfamilias produced cheese of Dolcelatte intensity stinkiness that caused the trots, or he was an unwashed tramp who had incredible BO, much like your current-day Parisian waiter.

  6. Bloke in North Dorset

    The only thing that pissed off my late, left handed, brother was when we set up the table place for a right hander.

  7. You can buy ‘left handed’ playing cards. The small number/symbol is in the right hand top corner rather than the traditional top left hand corner.

    This means when you fan the cards out,as we are accustomed to do, you can’t see the symbol. It takes ages for people to work out what’s wrong. They usually start by turning their hand upside-down and fanning the cards out again.

  8. @Noel&rhoda&bilbaoboy: Try growing up ginger. These days the kids just shout “slaphead” at me. As Noel says, when you’re grown up it doesn’t matter a toss.

  9. Thank you Tim; it was worth you looking that up just to introduce us to Asketinus Baddecheese.

    It would seem a rather improbable name if Sir Pterry had invented it.

  10. @Noel

    Left-handed wasn’t acceptable at prep school. They had to write using right hand and use knife & fork etc ‘properly’

    My mother and brother “suffered” this “discrimination” and it befitted them as they’re very ambidextrous, whereas my left hand is poorly co-ordinated

  11. “Possibly from Old English derogatory term bæddel and its diminutive bædling “effeminate man, hermaphrodite, pederast,””

    Like that David Baeddel? I just thought he was a middle-class Jewish Oxbridge type who pretended he was laddish on the telly. I had no idea.

  12. It seems the cack-handed are over-represented here. I don’t know what to make of that.

    For the avoidance of doubt, the hand I offer you to shake IS the hand I wipe my bum with, so middle-eastern religions are let down by their assumptions.

    I’ve always used the knife and fork as set, I think it works better. Note that USicans change to master hand for the fork after doing all the cutting with it. Easier, for me, to do the cutting with the inferior hand, it isn’t that hard.

    Scissors are a pain though.

  13. I am also sinistral. Use cutlery conventionally and use a mouse with my right hand. Used to bat right-handed and bowl left-handed. Can’t make chopsticks work in the RH tho, although I’m sure I would with practice.

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