Legal Dictionary


Legal Definition of bastard


  1. An illegitimate child, born in a relationship between two persons that are not married (i.e.. not in wedlock) or who are not married at the time of the child's birth.

Definition of bastard


  • bs'tə(r)d, /ˈbɑːst(r)d/, /bA:st@(r)d/
  • băs'tə(r)d, /ˈbstə(r)d/, /b{st@(r)d/


    From Middle English from Anglo-Norman from Medieval Latin bastardus ("illegitimate child") of Germanic origin from Proto-Germanic *bāst- *bōst- ("marriage") + -ard. Akin to Old Frisian bost ("marriage") from Proto-Germanic *bandstu- ("to unite") from Proto-Indo-European *bhendh- ("to tie, bind"). An alternate source derives it from Old French "child of a nobleman by a woman other than his wife" possibly from Old French fils de bast "packsaddle son", meaning a child conceived on an improvised bed; as saddles often doubled as beds while traveling, with pejorative ending -art, -ard. Lastly the word may derive from another Proto-Germanic root *banstiz ("barn"), again suggestive of low (peasant) origin.


bastard (plural bastards)

  1. Person who was born out of wedlock, hence often considered an illegitimate descendant.
  2. A mongrel. A biological cross between different breeds, groups or varieties.
  3. (vulgar referring to a man) A contemptible, inconsiderate, overly or arrogantly rude or spiteful person.

    Some bastard stole my car while I was helping an injured person.
  4. (often humorous) A man, a fellow, a male friend.

    lucky bastard, poor bastard
    Get over here, you old bastard!

  5. (informal) : A child that does not know his father.
  6. (informal) : Something extremely difficult or unpleasant to deal with.

    Life can be a real bastard.

  7. A variation that is not genuine; something irregular or inferior or of dubious origin, fake or counterfeit.

    The architecture was a kind of bastard, suggesting Gothic but not being true Gothic.

  8. An intermediate-grade steel file; also : bastard file.
  9. A long, straight, narrow sword, with an undecorated hilt; a longsword.

Usage notes

(one born to unmarried parents): Not always regarded as a (religious) stigma (in canon law prohibitive for clerical office without papal indult): Norman duke William, the Conqueror of England, is referred to in state documents as "William the Bastard"; a Burgundian prince was even officially styled Great Bastard of Burgundy.


  • (illegitimate descendant) love-child
  • (term of abuse) son of a bitch, arsehole


bastard (comparative more bastard, superlative most bastard)


  1. of or like a bastard (illegitimate human descendant)
  2. of or like a bastard (bad person)
  3. of or like a mongrel, bastardized creature/cross
  4. of abnormal, irregular or otherwise inferior qualities (size, shape etc.)
  5. spurious, lacking genuinity of authenticity: counterfeit, fake



  1. (vulgar) Exclamation of strong dismay or strong sense of being upset.


  • Alphagram: aabdrst
  • batards
  • tabards

Further reading

A bastard is an illegitimate child, and the word is also used as a derogatory term for an unpleasant person. The term can also mean a mongrel.

A bastard (also called whoreson) in the law of England and Wales is a person whose parents, at the time of his birth, are not married to each other.

Unlike many other systems of law, there was no possibility of post hoc legitimisation of a bastard.


The words "bastard" (or "bastardy") are widely considered pejorative, especially because of their informal meanings, which refer to people thought to be obnoxious. However, these words were always considered offensive, even before the informal meaning emerged. In informal terms, the word "whoreson" is used as an abusive term for only men thought to be vicious.


In Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, "bastardo" is an offensive term for a boy or man born of unmarried parents, or offensive informal terms for a vicious man. In Latin, "bastardus" was an offensive term to a boy or man born of unmarried parents. In informal Latin, "bastardus" refers to a man thought to be vicious. "Bastarda" is an offensive term for a girl or woman born of unmarried parents, and, in informal terms, an offensive term for a vindictive woman. When you want to offend a group of people, born out unmarried parents or not, you say "los bastardos." This is similar to how "bastard" is offensive to both sexes.

Common law origin

Bastardy was not a status, like villeinage, but the fact of being a bastard had a number of legal effects on an individual.

One exception to the general principle that a bastard could not inherit occurred when the eldest son (who would otherwise be heir) was born a bastard but the second son was born after the parents were married.

The Provisions of Merton 1235 (20 Hen. 3 c. IX), otherwise known as the Special Bastardy Act 1235, provided that except in the case of real actions the fact of bastardy could be proved by trial by jury, rather than necessitating a bishop's certificate.


Post-hoc legitimisation was introduced under the Legitimacy Act 1926 (16 & 17 Geo. 5 c. 60) and the Family Law Reform Act 1969 (c. 46) allowed a bastard to inherit on the intestacy of his parents.

In Medieval Wales

In Medieval Wales, prior to its conquest by and incorporation in England, a "bastard" was defined solely as a child not acknowledged by his father. All children acknowledged by a father, whether born in or out of wedlock, had equal legal rights including the right to share in the father's inheritance. This legal difference between Wales and England is often referred to in the well-known "Brother Cadfael" series of Medieval detective mysteries, and provides the solution to the mystery in one of them.


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

Translation of bastard in Malay


person born to unmarried parents

  1. anak haram



  1. bangsat


1.     landed property
2.     common stock
3.     lex situs
4.     lex causae
5.     lex fori
6.     status quo
7.     buggery
8.     conclusive presumption
9.     interlocutory
10.     writ of seizure and sale