‘Oh bollocks’. Spend enough time with an Irish person and you’re likely to hear the expletive term. A lot.

Not confined to social life, the word ‘bollocks’ leaks into mainstream political life from time to time.

Ireland’s Transport Minister Shane Ross recently uttered the word in the Irish parliament recently, branding his political colleague Mattie McGrath an “out and out bollocks”.

Journalist John Waters also recently stormed out of a podcast recording with Eamon Dunphy, telling the broadcaster: "You're a bollocks. You're a f**king bollocks."

But where does the word come from?

Curiosity got the better of comedian David O’Doherty recently and he put it to veteran wordsmith Susie Dent from the hit Channel 4 television, Countdown, tweeting: 'Where does ‘bollocks’ come from? Sounds French. Like balleaux?’

Responding to his query, Dent replied: ‘Bollocks used to be ‘ballocks’, dating right back to the Anglo-Saxons (the word not the bollocks). It’s related to ball and was completely neutral - just as intestines were otherwise known as ‘arse-ropes’.

Am I too late? Bollocks used to be ‘ballocks’, dating right back to the Anglo-Saxons (the word not the bollocks). It’s related to ball and was completely neutral - just as intestines were otherwise known as ‘arse-ropes’.

— Susie Dent (@susie_dent) May 21, 2018

There you have it.

Read more: 

Top Irish expressions an American picked up living there

Irish expressions you’ll have no clue what they mean

Top ten Irish expressions certain to confuse you

 

Susie DentWikimedia