CONSERVATIVE MPs Esther McVey and Philip Davies gave their first joint interview last week; however, neither quite knew how best to label their relationship, eventually settling on ‘two individuals, but a couple’. Had the pair been aware of a more succinct term just added to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), Esther might have referred to Phil as her bidie-in.
‘A person who lives with his or her partner in a non-marital relationship’, bidie-in is one of the colourful Scots words and meanings to appear in the latest update of the OED. The label is useful for cohabiting couples, such as McVey and Davies, whose baffies (slippers, and another newly added word) are either side of the same bed.
Many of the newly approved terms are most extensively used in west central Scotland, especially by Glaswegians, whom the OED has inducted as Weegies. It no doubt speaks to the irreverent character of the nation that a disproportionate number of the new Scots entries are, in the words of the OED, ‘a contemptuous form of address’.
Scotland has taken inordinate pride in the OED having added the renowned Scots term of bawbag, to the extent that its inclusion was celebrated on air by TV presenters.
— STV (@WeAreSTV) March 20, 2019
For those unfamiliar with Scots vernacular, bawbag (ball bag) is a slang term for the scrotum, and from it is derived Scotland’s unit of micro-measurement, the bawhair (alas, not yet adopted either by scientists or the OED). However, the more common use of bawbag is what the definitive dictionary dryly describes as ‘an ignorant, obnoxious, or otherwise detestable person (esp. a man)’.
In addition to bawbag, other Scots insults endorsed by the new OED include bampot (or bam or bamstick), roaster and choob (or tube). Loose linguists might treat most or all of these pejoratives as synonyms, but the OED rightly recognises that a bampot – specifically ‘a belligerent or disruptive person’ – carries physical menace whereas a choob is a less threatening ‘stupid or contemptible person; an idiot’.
As a guide to distinct usage, an example of a bampot is the headbutting former Labour MP Eric Joyce, convicted in 2012 of assaulting four people in the Palace of Westminster’s Strangers’ Bar. Choobs were those in Falkirk West who had voted for the bawbag.
At Westminster bampots thankfully are rare; there is, however, a plethora of Members with ‘an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance’ and who are ‘arrogant, pretentious, conceited’. For those descriptions, the latest OED has helpfully added a Scots adjective which encompasses all such characteristics – the exemplar of these unattractive traits being the incumbent Speaker, who henceforth shall be known as Bigsie Bercow.
Bigsie currently has a particularly smug coupon (face or facial expression) after having ruled that ‘unless there has been substantial change’ the Commons cannot vote again on Theresa May’s woeful withdrawal agreement. The OED might specifically have had in mind May’s dreadful deal when it recently included another Scots adjective, bowfing (foul-smelling, stinking).
It remains to be seen whether Mrs May makes a third attempt; at the time of writing, the Attorney-General has no reason to alter his earlier judgement on the prospect of a permanent Northern Ireland backstop, that ‘the legal risk remains unchanged’. In parliament Geoffrey Cox has shown himself to be a verbose vaudevillian and one hesitates to add to his vocabulary; nonetheless, should the Attorney-General require a different way to say the same thing, that on the backstop the EU has given Mrs May ‘nothing at all, absolutely nothing’, the updated OED offers the chance to declare: ‘The prime minister sought concessions but returned wi’ hee-haw.’
The UK has of course been on the back foot ever since Theresa the choob preposterously pledged to pay £39billion just to begin discussing the future relationship; she immediately had folded the trump card of preparing to go WTO and threatening to leave the EU rooked (without money). For this and countless other instances of incompetence, Theresa May should long ago have been sacked – or as the OED now has it, given her jotters.