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Our Dear Amy column had an interesting letter. The writer's aunt, whose worst swear word is "darn," is known to occasionally use an offensive word that is used in the UK, but not in North America. The word was never given, but it was described as a "term of abuse," "derogatory" and "homophobic."

I am dying to know what it might be. Any guesses?
 
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quote:
Pouf

Two of the meanings of poof in the OED Online are
quote:
slang (derogatory).
A homosexual man; an affected or effeminate man.

Expressing contempt, disgust, or distaste as conveyed by the emission of a short sharp puff of breath.

Ask Amy suggested using the milder term "bollocks," though she noted it was "still somewhat vulgar."

Pouf is an alternate spelling, though if you look up that word you won't find those definitions.
 
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Shu suggested wanker, though when I looked it up it they said that's not as bad as cunt, which in the US is pretty damned bad.
 
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Wanker can even be inoffensive when used between friends. It also doesn't have any homophobic overtones. As for poof/pouf I suggested it because it's a derogatory homophobic slur that's used in the UK but not the US. It's also a term that might be used by someone who normally doesn't go beyond "darn". The only problem with my suggestion is that it doesn't seem offensive enough to be as described in the answer. And anyone who suggests that "bollocks" is an appropriate word for a dearly revered aunt doesn't understand that word at all.

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It surely can't be "bugger", can it? In British usage while that certainly technically does refer to anal intercourse, in common usage it's just like saying "damn" or even "darn". "Bollocks" is wa..aaa.aay worse.
You know, I bet it's "bugger". That would be a word that no one would think twice about using here but which could, if you do not really understand the usage, be considered offensively homophobic. To claim that it's the equivalent of an F-bomb is to show a severe lack of understanding of British English.

(And yes, I have heard it used by Hugh Grant in a movie...)

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I doubt bugger because that's fairly well known here.

I am at the point of writing Dear Amy to ask her! Very curious.
 
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But there is no other British word that fits the criteria

Used commonly in the UK
Used less commonly in the USA
Term of abuse
Derogatory
Potentially homophobic


And whatever the word in question is, it ain't gonna be as crude as "bollocks" which is quite a harsh swearword.

I'll bet you a pint it's "bugger" and Amy has no clue about the relative offensiveness of the two words.
 
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I bet it's "poof."
 
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That was my first thought but it's not a word that lends itself to use other than to refer to people.
Bugger on the other hand is what you say when you hit your thumb with a hammer, when you realise that you have spelled something wrong on the board in class, when you have spilled your noodles down your shirt or when you realise that you left your umbrella at home and it's starting to rain. A very versatile little word is bugger.

I wonder how we will ever find out.
 
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It seems more offensive to me than bugger. I bet it's bollocks.
 
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I agree with Bob. It's most likely bugger. Bollocks doesn't fit as a term of homophobic abuse.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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I tried to find it online - thought maybe others would wonder. When I reread the article, though, I found it is NOT bollocks. Here is her comment on that: " A substitute English expression she might adopt instead would be the milder (but still somewhat vulgar) 'bollocks'.”

Bugger just seems too tame to me, but then I don't live it England. I must be wrong.
 
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