1. Offensive A person born to parents not married to each other.
a. A person considered to be mean or contemptible.
b. A person, especially one considered to be unfortunate: “crumbling shacks where some poor bastard had tried to raise a family” (Tom Clancy).
3. Something that is of irregular, inferior, or dubious origin.
1. Offensive Born to parents not married to each other.
2. Not genuine; spurious: a bastard style of architecture.
3. Resembling a known kind or species but not truly such.
[Middle English, from Old French (probably originally meaning “son of a lord by a concubine”) : possibly dialectal northwest West Germanic *bāst-, polygynous marriage to a woman of lower status according to pre-Christian custom, concubinage (compare Old Frisian bōst, marriage, from northwest West Germanic bōst-; see bhendh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots) + Old French -ard, pejorative noun suffix; see –ARD.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.