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Alternative forms[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.



blackguard (plural blackguards)

  1. 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!

Usage notes[edit]

  • Usually, only used to refer to a male person.
  • Blackguard may also refer to a man who uses foul language in front of a woman, typically a woman of high standing in society.


Derived terms[edit]


See also[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]