Friday 11 November 2011


There's a rather ungentlemanly term for a woman in Britain: bint. It doesn't mean anything in particular, it's just a synonym for woman that conveys, in the most vulgar way, that you don't like her. I had always assumed that it was thieve's cant or that the word had just appeared magically in some pub and then spread like around the country. But then I happened to be reading an article on the formation of Arabic surnames (as you do), and saw the magical words:

bint = daughter

So, I hurled myself at the OED and found that bint does indeed come from the Arabic. The phrase was popularised by servicemen returning from duty in Egypt during the Second World War, the bints of Egypt being (presumably) particularly beautiful. Indeed, in my Dictionary of Services Slang bint is still defined as girlfriend, and as a synonym for lush.

The Inky Fool out on the pull


  1. I never got the impression it meant the recipient was unliked.

  2. Bint is often included in the females name as 'daughter' of - ibn/ibna = son of. My Father served with the RAF in both North (Libya) and East Africa in the late 50's/early 60's and quite often referred to females when back over here as 'bints', not in a derogatory manner just as a descriptive term.

  3. I popped into Foyles on CXR on Monday. Their order of 23 of your books had not arrived. Popped down to Waterstone's on Piccadilly five minutes later and there was a display of them on the 4th floor. Huzzah!


  4. I may have been a bit vulgar with a few bints but only with the ones I liked!

  5. Kenn, I'm glad you found the book.

    I've always used bint in a derogatory sense, maybe I'm just a derogatory sort of chap.

  6. An arcane equivalent of the modern WAG.

  7. I first heard the word on Fawlty Towers. Basil calls Polly a 'cloth-eared bint.' It's been one of my favourite insults ever since.
    Not, of course, that I ever use it.