Word Confusion: Ballocks / Bollocks versus Bullocks

Posted November 12, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 17 October 2017

I keep running across this word confusion in J.D. Robb’s In Death series, and I thought ballocks to that! I’ve screwed up in the past on what I thought was right versus what was actually right. And I’ve learned to check the dictionary(!) before I say bollocks to that…*grin*…

In this case, I’m definitely right. The only time you can exclaim Bullocks! is if you see some, and you’re excited about seeing some young bulls. And I don’t mean hunky young studs!

Word Confusions started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Ballocks / Bollocks Bullocks
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: ballocks

Ballocks of three pigs

“US Employment: Ballocks” courtesy of Jesse with Rota Fortunae

Now, those are ballocks!


32 bullocks harnessed into a team

“Thirty-two Bullocks in a Team”, Charleville district, 1902-1904, is in the public domain and uploaded courtesy of John Vandenberg at the State Library of Queensland, Australia, via Wikimedia Commons

Part of Grammar:
Noun 1; Exclamation 2;
Verb, transitive 1

Noun singular: ballock, bollock
Noun plural: bollix is another alternative
Third person present verb: ballocks, bollocks
Past tense or past participle: ballocked, bollocked
Gerund or present participle: ballocking, bollocking

Noun
Noun plural: bullocks

Also used as a noun modifier

Chiefly British


Exclamation:
Rubbish; nonsense

Noun:
[Vulgar] Testes, testicles

[Vulgar] Used to express contempt, annoyance, or defiance

Verb, transitive:
[Vulgar slang] Reprimand someone severely

Castrated steer
Young bull
Examples:
Exclamation:
Ballocks to that!

Bollocks, mate!

Noun:
Kick him in the ballocks!

But, if the ballocks be marred, the whole race of human kind would forthwith perish, and be lost for ever. – François Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel

Verb, transitive:
They gave him a right bollocking.

Watch your step, Mikey. Ma’s ballocking Sean something fierce.

That’s a mighty fine bullock you’ve got there, Jonas.

We’ll need a team of some twenty bullocks to pull this wagon.

Bullocks make for a steady draught animal.

We’ll need to train these bullocks up for dragging logs down the hills.

Bullock yokes have been used to haul buckets of milk and water.

A bullock whip can be used to kill.

Derivatives:
Noun: bullocky, bullwhacker
History of the Word:
1 Mid-18th century is the plural of bollock, a variant of an earlier ballock, which is of Germanic origin.

2 Mid-1800s+

First known use: before 12th century

Middle English ballok from late Old English bulluc or bealluc, a diminutive of bula, which is from the Old Norse boli.

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C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

Pinterest Photo Credits

The Cow Pushing the Decorated Cart by Chad Rosenthal from Jerusalem, Israel, is under the CC BY 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.


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