Dastard

Dastard.

I think we’re more familiar with the term dastardly. I assume in conjunction with other descriptions of Snidely Whiplash. After all, I’m certain that everyone else has the same points of reference in life as I.

[If what I just said had no spark of recognition for you, I shall ask you to leave the room. And don’t let the doorknob fracture your fairytale on the way out.]

My bigger point: there is also the root word dastard. And it is quite what you would think. It is a goofy spelling of bastard, generally the d coming from dullard or dotty. There are other definitions of sneaking and cowardice attached. Perhaps as a smashing of devious bastard would be a way to look at it?

But I think dastard would do well to come back into our standard spoken lexicon. Bastard has its normal connotations of being a child born out of wedlock, and while that’s not really a worthwhile term in the modern age, it’s also considered something of a curse. Even though it generally means stupid jerk or asshole, I think we’re better off moving beyond it. Time for the revenge of the dastard!

There is another, slightly more esoteric use of the word, I suppose you could say. That of a bastard item or idea as an adulterated or mutated form of an original thing. This berry beer is like a bastard ale. Or, Reese’s Pieces are the bastard child of a peanut butter cup and M&Ms. Or, if you can stand the Dungeons and Dragons reference: a bastard sword (a longsword with an extended handle to use one- or two-handed.

In fact, it turns out dastard is a bastard word.

Who’d’ve thunk?