What does the british word "bullocks" mean?

I’ve heard this word for years. Is it a curse word? Is it a noun or a verb?

I think it’s “bollocks”:

from dictionary.com

bollocks v : make a mess of, destroy or ruin [syn: botch, fumble, botch up, muff, blow, flub, screw up, ball up, blunder, spoil, muck up, bungle, fluff, bollix, bollix up, bollocks up, bobble, mishandle, louse up, foul up, mess up, fuck up]

bollocks n: slang for testicles

“From the American commander of Bastogne to the German commander: Nuts.”

“Bollocks”=your balls


  • Tamerlane

So what was up with Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols? When that came out I looked up bollocks in the dictionary and it was something about conical things used to obstruct traffic. I got the impression of something along the lines of “Damn the torpedoes…”

From what I’ve been able to discern (I’m not British, so I could be way off), bollocks, in addition to being slang for “testicles”, is also used to mean something akin to “bullsh*t” or “rubbish”. This would explain the Sex Pistols title, and also why you sometimes hear (or heard) people proclaiming “that’s bollocks!” I’ve also heard the “mess up/ruin” example used: “You’ve bollocksed that up!”

Just on the offchance that you’re not pulling my leg…

Err, that would be “bollards”.


Here is a word bollix which we Americans of WWII generation know means “messed up” or some variation of this. We, also “know” that it is British. But the OED first quotes it in 1935 in UK and my Lighter on American slang quotes it in US from 1937.

The usage as a noun meaning testicles goes back in both US and UK cites to 1700’s.

But, Hail Ants I’m sure you were talking about its meaning of “messed up” etc.

As a Brit, allow me to try and clarify. [sub]Not that Brit English can be relied upon to make a whole lot of sense anyway.[/sub]

“Bollocks” is slang for testicles.

“Bollocks” is also used colloquially to mean “rubbish” or “bullshit” or “I don’t believe you”. Depending on where you are in the country, this would be considered either quite strong ‘bad language’ or the very mildest of expletives.

Like many colloquialisms, it can be pressed into service as a general-purpose conversational expletive, such as “to bollocks up…” something, to ruin it or cause problems; and “bollocks to that”, expressing your disinclination to go along with a suggested plan.

A “bullock” is simply a bull, as in male ox.

“Bollards” are concrete posts on roads or streets, used for such purposes as demarcating islands in the middle of a road.

Sex Pistols, “Never mind the bollocks…” loosely equates to “Never mind all the other crap, here’s the good stuff!”.

Do I get a gold star now?

This reminds me of seeing an episode of “Lost in Space” where I was convinced one character was referred to as Captain Bollocks or more probably Bollix.

I began to wonder if I’d heard it wrong, but it seems more likely now I’ve read this.

Just to add that I’ve heard both bullocks and, to a lesser extent bollards, as ‘polite’ euphemisms for bollocks by people who haven’t got the, er, bollocks to say bollocks.

Less so recently, perhaps.

There’s also “the dog’s bollocks” used to indicate something very good.

e.g. “Last night was the dog’s bollocks”

inzin, you forgot one. To refer to something as being “the dog’s bollocks” means the same as “the bee’s knees”. Its something that is very cool, or very desirable. Wychwood brewery make a dogs bollocks beer, see http://www.dogsbollocks.co.uk/

The Sex Pistol’s album - Never mind the bollocks… was the subject of an indecency charge brought at the behest of the National Television Viewers Association, who are just one of those nasty little illiberal right-wing groups who think that they have the right to decide what is best for everyone without bothering to debate the finer points of freedom.

It was largely lead by Mary Whitehouse who saw it as her business to ‘defend the public morals’ and considering her tiny following once held a disproportionate amount of sway in public life.

When it came to the court case Judicial wisdom prevailed and the word ‘Bollocks’ was held to have been in usage for so long and had a recognisable and non-rude meaning that the case was thrown out.

In Ireland, Bollocks is often pronounced “Bollix” and spelt that way (It has the same meanings). Roddy Doyle’s books make excellent use of it and many other swear words.

Such a versatile word, isn’t it? Reminds me of another commonly used vulgar term, which is also rather flexible in usage…

My guess is, this has come into use in the 1990’s.

Let’s summerize(with criticisms, where appropriate):
l. Bollix is a word that generally is understood, both in the UK and the US, to mean “screwed up” and comes from the 1930’s or so.

  1. “bollocks” is not a word prior to someone inventing the spelling in the last 10 years or so. If I am wrong, please show me the cite. I am frequently wrong, and would love to be proved wrong here.

  2. The original spelling and word is “ballock”. This is in print in the the UK and the US in the late 1700’s. It was used as a noun and a verb. And it indeed meant “the male genitals”. This is the source of the modern word. The word has been used long and often in this century, but perhaps mostly in speech, allowing people to “assume” how it is spelled.

There’s actually a beer, from Manchester I believe called “Dogs Bollocks” with a drawing of a Dalmation on the label. Quite good too!

Kept the bottle just for the label.

*Originally posted by samclem *

I am 37 years old and I got a bollocking from my dad for saying “bollocks” when I was only seven or eight.