blackguard

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From black +‎ guard, thought to have referred originally to the scullions and lower menials of a court, or of a nobleman's household, who wore black liveries or blacked shoes and boots, or were often stained with soot.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

blackguard (plural blackguards)

  1. (old-fashioned, usually used only of men) A scoundrel; an unprincipled contemptible person; an untrustworthy person.
    • Macaulay
      A man whose manners and sentiments are decidedly below those of his class deserves to be called a blackguard.
    • 1899, Knut Hamsun, Hunger, translated by George Egerton, Part I, page 68
      Pawn another man's property for the sake of a meal, eat and drink one's self to perdition, brand one's soul with the first little sear, set the first black mark against one's honour, call one's self a blackguard to one's own face, and needs must cast one's eyes down before one's self? Never! never!
    • 2006, Jan Freeman, 'Blaggards' of the year – Boston Globe
      "Arrr, keelhaul the blaggards!" wrote Ty Burr in the Globe last summer, pronouncing sentence on the malefactors who brought us the second "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie.
  2. (archaic) A man who uses foul language in front of a woman, typically a woman of high standing in society.

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See also[edit]

Verb[edit]

blackguard (third-person singular simple present blackguards, present participle blackguarding, simple past and past participle blackguarded)

  1. (transitive) To revile or abuse in scurrilous language.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Southey to this entry?)
  2. (intransitive) To act like a blackguard; to be a scoundrel.

Further reading[edit]