Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It's "Pillock", you berk!

I don't want to come across all "90s" but it's interesting how much the internet has changed the way we interact with information. Just today I called my flatmate a "pillock" on his Facebook status. To make sure I had spelled "pillock" correctly, I Googled it. Finding the Wikipedia article on it made me realise that I hadn't really given much thought to the etymology of it.

It turns out that pillock dates back to the 16th century meaning "penis" from the Norwegian "pillicock". It was likely used much the same way as someone would use to call someone a "dick", "dickhead" or "cock" today:

This kind of insult reminded me of something Maurice Moss from The I.T. Crowd would use. As does the pejorative "berk". So I decided to look up that word too. This term originated in the 1930s. A very similar meaning to "pillock" with Wikipedia listing it meaning "A fool, prat, twit". However its etymology shows that it was a shortening of "Berkeley Hunt" - a hunt based at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire. And so some how the proletariat of Berkeley saw "Berk-hunt" as rhyming slang for "cunt". However, the "softer" meaning of "berk" has prevailed and is even used today as an "affectionate insult". However for my visual example I'm going for "fool, prat, twit":

As an interesting sidenote ('cause I can tell you guys can't get enough of this!): I came across another out-dated insult in my travels. That of "wiseacre" and one I will try to bring in to my every day vocabulary. It basically is another word for "smart-arse" or such similar things. Wikipedia's definition is "one who feigns knowledge or cleverness" or an "insolent upstart":

I find etymology quite interesting and would like to think this could become a "segment" I do on my blog. If so, it may be like all my others with just an inaugural entry for each.

Aside from the last part of this sentence, I have made a vow to not use the words "university" and "procrastination" together in my blog. That being said: I may be updating more often now that uni has gone back.


  1. This etymology stuff could keep me entertained for days. Possibly weeks.
    I haven't listened to the new She & Him album yet, but picked a copy up on vinyl, so hopefully sometime this week. But what I heard them play the other night was all very good. It's seemed a bit more dynamic than the first album, so we shall see. I have a free digital download code that came with my vinyl, but someone mailed me a digital copy, so if you would like my download, give me an e-mail address and I'll mail you the code.

  2. Hey man, Im running a bit behind in your cds too! Im so sorry. My flatmates cat chewed my laptop cable - where all my music is stored, im working on getting something to you ASAP, its on my top things to do i promise!

    Thats so cool about your partner! Haha im glad she loved the purse, and went and brought one! haha. woohoo!