I've been asked to explain the origin of div. That's the British slang term div, meaning idiot. I'm afraid there will be no explanation. Or to be more precise, there'll be many of them.
Now the OED lists two divs. One is an evil spirit in Persian mythology, the other is a mathematicians shortening of divergence. But the OED has nothing to say on the cries of "You div", and doesn't acknowledge its existence. It does have divvy, of which more later.
Chambers Dictionary of Slang does record the word as being in use since the 1970s. But it says that the etymology is unknown, unless it has something to do with Duh, which seems unlikely.
This shortfall, though is thoroughly made up for by the Urban Dictionary, which confidently gives three etymologies, which all contradict each other.
Div is a scouse word for idiot. It is short for divvy which in turn is a corruption of Deva. The Deva Hospital was a well known mental hospital (since renamed the West Cheshire Hospital) on the outskirts of Chester. Chester was founded by the Romans who named it Deva.
Actually originates from prison slang in the UK. A job often given to the lowest inmates was to put cardboard dividers into boxes. Someone given this job was a 'divider' or a 'div'. Now used as an insult to those who display stupidity.
Derived from "individual needs child", a cruel schoolyard insult. Not at all politically correct. Someone who's "not quite normal", an idiot, spaz, etc.
I'm not quite sure that I understand the last one. The Deva Hospital did indeed exist at about the right time (it was so named from 1953 till 1970). However, the OED does have divvy, meaning daft. This is first recorded in 1975 as market traders' slang in Boston, Lincolnshire on the other side of the country from Chester.
Then there was a writer in The Guardian in 1987 who said "I first started using the term ‘divvy’ some 20 years ago... When I was growing up in Liverpool in the 1960's it was commonly assumed to be derived from the word ‘individual’", which would seem to support the Urban Dictionary's third attempt. #
So the short and the long of it is that I'm rather stumped. Does anybody remember div before 1975?
Short for this?