Bugger Phraseology (aka when to use bugger!?)

bugger |ˈbəgər, ˈbo͝og-| vulgar slang, chiefly Brit.

Source: excerpts fromWikipedia

The term is a general-purpose expletive, used to imply dissatisfaction, or used to refer to someone or something whose behaviour is in some way displeasing.


The word may be used amongst friends in an affectionate way and is used as a vernacular noun in order to imply that one is very fond of something (I’m a bugger for Welsh cakes). It can also imply a negative tendency (He’s a silly bugger for losing his keys)

In some English speaking communities the word has been in use traditionally without any profane connotations. For instance, within the Anglo-Indian community in India the word “bugger” has been in use, in an affectionate manner, to address or refer to a close friend or fellow schoolmate. In USA it can be a rough synonym to whippersnapper as in calling a young boy a “little bugger.”


In the UK, the phrase Bugger me sideways (or a variation thereupon) can be used as an expression of surprise. It can be used as a synonym for ‘broken’, as in “This PC’s buggered,” “Oh no! I’ve buggered it up,” or “It’s gone to buggery.” In Anglophone Southern Africa, also in Australia and the UK, “buggered” is colloquially used to describe something, usually a machine or vehicle, as broken but can be repaired, whilst something damaged beyond repair is “f*ed.”

The phrase bugger off (bug off in American English means to go, or run, away; when used as a command it means “go away”, ”get lost” or “leave me alone” and can be seen to be used in much the same type of relatively softly ‘offensive’ manner.

“I’m buggered” or “I’ll be buggered” is used as a colloquial phrase in the UK (& often in NZ and AUS as well) to denote or feign surprise at an unexpected (or possibly unwanted) occurrence. “I’m buggered” can also be used to indicate a state of fatigue. In this latter form it found fame in NZ in 1956 through rugby player Peter Jones, who  in a live post-match radio interview  declared himself “absolutely buggered”, a turn of phrase considered shocking at the time.


As an interjection, “bugger” is sometimes used as an expletive or interjection. As with most other expletives its continued use has reduced its shock value and offensiveness, to the extent the Toyota car company in AUS and NZ ran a popular series of advertisements where “Bugger!” was the only spoken word (with exception of an utterance of “bugger me!”)

Derived terms

BagarapimBagarap” (from “buggered up”) is a common word in Pacific pidgins such as Tok Pisin of Papua New Guinea, Brokan (meaning “broken”, “hurt”, “ruined”, “destroyed”, “tired”.

Little buggers Children, a term so inoffensive in the UK that there is a series of professional teaching manuals with titles that start “Getting the little buggers to…”

Bugger about To mess around, to do something ineffectively.

Bugger all Meaning “nothing” as in You may not like paying taxes, but there’s bugger all you can do about it.

Bugger me The phrase “bugger me” is a slang term used for a situation that has yielded an unexpected or undesirable result. Common usage includes “bugger me dead” and “bugger me blind”.

Bugger’s muddle Colloquial military term for a disorderly group – either assembled without formation or in a formation that does not meet the standards of the commentator: “just form a bugger’s muddle”, “there’s a bugger’s muddle of civvies hanging around the gate”.

Bugger off The phrase “bugger off” is a slang or dismissive term meaning “leave”.

Bugger Café The iconic café where patrons enjoy great coffee and food whilst laughing and reflecting on bugger moments.

And in case you are stuck when to say Bugger – here are a few clues!!

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