On the radar: “Bollocks”

Lynne Murphy alerted me, via Twitter, to this photograph posted on the UK website The Poke:

It inspired various thoughts.

  1. Bloody good advert!
  2. The Poke includes no text with the photo, but the sign advertising “NY State Inspections” suggests that is was taken, in fact, in New York.
  3. The Poke (whose motto is “time well wasted”) appears to specialize in Photoshopped or otherwise altered photographs, so I am not sure if this is the real deal. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has eyeballed it.
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31 responses to “On the radar: “Bollocks”

  1. Heh. I got one of each of those drinking things free from the intarwebz.

  2. I can’t verify personally…I haven’t been to NYC in over a decade…but it’s been replicated at least two dozen times so far: http://tinyurl.com/6nj9we3.

  3. Anyone looking at the picture has “eyeballed” the sign.

  4. That’s pretty damn funny. Good old Newcastle Brown, the staple of the 1970s college dance.

    • I was horrified to see “Newkie” on widespread sale in California, Of all the brown ales we could export, we sent them Newkie Brown? The horror.

      And no-one even drinks it properly. In Newcastle, you get a bottle and a *half-pint* glass, which you top up continually to preserve the head.

      Anywhere else, of course, you drink a better brown ale (i.e. almost anything).

  5. I think we need to make a distinction between words used purely for effect, esp. commercial effect, and words used as a result of cultural diffusion. Clearly this is commercial cute, not to be taken as an example of diffusion.

  6. If you can understand the cockney accents, this might help!

  7. Yes, it’s in NewYork. I live here and have seen it several times.

  8. You mean eye-bollocked it?

  9. Bollocks used to be a very offensive term in British English but has become more acceptable term in recent decades to the point that the recent slang term: “the dog’s bollocks” is (strangely to me) an expression of praise for exceptional quality as in: that new track by Coldplay was the dog’s bollocks.

    • Good example here:

      • There seems to be some suggestion in this thread that ‘bollocks’ is a new term. It’s not, although I’ve no idea how old it might really be. My grandfather (b1888.) was familiar with it for sure. It’s certainly been a crude word for testicles for living memory. I wonder where the earliest reference is..? Some crude Anglo-Saxon goes way back. ‘Cunt’ I think comes from the old Norse ‘Kunta’, with the same anatomical meaning.
        Neither is the term ‘bollocks’ universally positive – as in ‘The dogs bollocks’, since the phrase ‘Load of bollocks’, – meaning lies or incorrect opinion or poor design, is probably an even more widespread usage in the UK.

      • IvanOpinion

        No-one has suggested that bollocks is either new or positive, other than in the phrase “the dog’s bollocks”.

  10. Explanation: As with rhyming slang (Aristotle = bottle & glass = arse). This is a progression that started with ‘the cat’s whiskers’. But both the animal and the relevant anatomical component have transitioned over time as an interesting new spin on the term.

  11. As a small addendum to the above, a euphemism for “Dog’s Bollocks” that is gaining currency over here in good old blighty is “The Mutt’s Nuts”, which interestingly borrows the not-so-common American term “Mutt”. However, coming up briskly in the usage stakes is the superbly evocative “The Dog’s Danglies”!

  12. It’s a great word, something you can get a lot of expression behind when things foul up.

    Also ‘what a load of ….’ when referring to something that is rubbish or just doesn’t work.

    How about ‘That politician was talking a right load of bollocks’ I guess this may get used a bit in the next month or so.

    Also used as a spontaneous expression of frustration.
    ‘Oh bollocks!’ (with feeling) when the tree I just cut down fell on my car.

    It will also be the only word on my tombstone

  13. @rickfairs.

    This has most recently been abbreviated to simply ‘the dogs’ everyone knows to what we are referring.

    I have heard over here ‘the dogs cojones’ more than a few times, the obfuscation of using a foreign language adds that element of whatever.

  14. I fear that you have missed the gag. The glass containing the liquid purporting to be a Beligian beer is in fact, known as a “bollock” in Belgium, hence the interplay between the words French “chalice” the Belgian “bollock” and the Anglo Saxon “bollocks”.

  15. I was surprised to see a Newcastle Brown commercial on BBC America recently with the word bollocks in it. Not a polite word, IMO.
    And Holmes just used the word in Elementary, which is on TV as I type!

    • Wow, if Holmes said it it must be okay now!
      I wonder what other words you would never have heard from your mother or grannie’s mouth will soon become acceptable in commerce and entertainment? Tits is getting there — as for instance in the quite mild expression: “You are getting on my tits” — but I think cunt will still need a lot more time before it is on the billboards.

    • Sherlock? On TV? Jeez I want to drink whatever you’re downing!

  16. ‘Bollocks’ is still considered an offensive term for testicles in the UK. I do not think that that advert would be allowed in the UK. The humour is spot-on though.

  17. Richard Charlton-Taylor

    Wonderfully expressive word and not particularly offensive in the UK,either spat out or extended.Dogs bollocks has been around for many years and expresses satisfaction to the highest extent…’These shoes or whatever are the absolute Dogs bollocks! ‘Cojones and danglies just don’t work.Bollocks as a repost..superb.With emphasis and said carefully and slowly it packs a punch.I believe that in Medievel times a bollock was an Italian dagger used to kill fallen Knights by being thrust through the visor.Picture the shape of an errect,but pointed penis,cock,dick,prick,knob,beef bayonet,willy,chutney chaser,percy,jake, etc etc with a ball either side and you will get the idea.

  18. Although ‘the dog’s bollocks’ as a phrase does not translate, Brits have done so for amusement purposes. There is now an antique (I use the term advisedly) shop in the Goldborne road so named.

    http://www.lescouillesduchien.com/

    • Ha! I saw that shop the other day, and as a slightly-too-respectable French speaker didn’t know what it meant!

      I have always assumed that the phrase “the dog’s bollocks” was a playful extension of the phrase “the bee’s knees”. The use of “cojones” and “danglies” are probably attempts at a playful extension of “the dog’s bollocks”.

  19. One can say, “Of course we know that his art is all bollocks.” ie., something disreputable or worthless or deceptive.

  20. Perhaps the pre-eminent use of the word is the Sex Pistols’ LP: Never Mind the Bollocks. No way would my parents have let me buy a record with this word plastered over the cover (so I had to tape my friend’s copy and keep it hidden!) I seem to remember that in shops the covers were censored with plain wrapping when the LP was released in 1977, though few brits would raise an eyebrow to see the cover on display these days. I agree that this advertising would not be allowed in the UK.

    Incidentally, there’s a whole ad campaign on the same theme:

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