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What Makes our Rude Cards so Rude? A Short History of the Word ‘Bollocks’

The dog’s bollocks, what a load of bollocks, that’s the bollocks! As with most swear words, the word ‘bollocks’ can have a variety of different meanings, and just like the word ‘shit’ (another of our favourite swear words) ‘bollocks’ can mean anything from bad to good. Over time the meaning of the word ‘bollocks’ has changed from meaning simply ‘testicles’, to meaning that something is absolutely awful, that something is nonsense, and then to mean that something is top drawer. That’s why we think that our rude break up cards are the bollocks, but everyone else’s are just bollocks!

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If you imagine receiving one of the “It's Not Me It's You. You're A Cunt”, “It's Not You, It's Me Realising You're A Complete Bell End” or “Just A Little Card To Say...I Know You Cheated, You're Dumped Cunt” rude break up cards available on our cardshit.com website. You might shout out “oh bollocks” if you’re upset, but “thank bollocks” if you’re relieved to be out of that toxic relationship. This is just one of the joys of the wonderful word that is ‘bollocks’. 

Coming from Middle English (the English invent the best swear words, don’t they?) the word is a variation of the word ‘ballocks’ used in the 1300s to describe testicles which in turn came from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘beallucas’. Believe it or not if you sent someone a rude thank you card with the word bollocks on it in those days, it wouldn’t actually be considered rude as the words ‘beallucas’ and ‘ballocks’ were deemed quite polite. It’s the modern-day equivalent of sending someone one of our “Thanks For The Fuck” thank you cards, and it being totally and utterly normal. 

Speaking of testicles, ‘the dog’s bollocks’ is a much-loved term which means that something is the greatest, but where does it come from? Well it actually comes from what is sort of known as the world’s first emoticon which has been used since 1949. The Oxford English Dictionary believe that the term comes from a colon followed by a dash (‘:-‘) which was often used in printing to introduce a list, and literally just resembles a dog’s bollocks. Whilst it didn’t initially mean that something is good, it is thought that like ‘the bee’s knees’ and ‘the cat’s pyjamas’, that people just assumed ‘the dog’s bollocks’ also meant something positive. 

Now, if like us, you don’t really classify the word ‘bollocks’ as a super rude swear word, you may be surprised to hear that it actually used to make quite a stir. In 1977 a record store manager was even prosecuted for displaying the famous Sex Pistols album ‘Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols’ in his record store window. Luckily, he wasn’t charged as his lawyer argued that the term was simply being used as working-class slang for ‘nonsense’ and wasn’t as rude as everyone thought. 

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In the case, defence barrister John Mortimer QC commented:

“What sort of country are we living in if a politician comes to Nottingham and speaks here to a group of people in the city centre and during his speech a heckler replies ‘bollocks’. Are we to expect this person to be incarcerated, or do we live in a country where we are proud of our Anglo-Saxon language? Do we wish our language to be virile and strong or watered down and weak?”

Here, here Mr Mortimer, we wholeheartedly appreciate your crusade against those who want to stop the utterance of all of the gloriously rude words we know and love so much! To the haters, we shout ‘bollocks!’