Buggery

Depiction of the buggery of a goat, by Paul Avril

The British English term buggery is very close in meaning to the term sodomy, often used interchangeably in law and popular speech. It may also be a specific common law offence encompassing both sodomy and bestiality.

Etymology

The modern English word "bugger" is derived from the French term bougre, that evolved from the Latin Bulgarus or "Bulgarian". The Catholic Church used the word to describe members of a religious sect known as the Bogomils, who originated in medieval Bulgaria in the 10th Century and spread throughout Western Europe by the 15th Century. The Church used it as a term of offence against a group they considered heretical. The first use of the word "buggery" appears in Middle English in 1330 where it is associated with "abominable heresy"; though the sexual sense of "bugger" is not recorded until 1555.[1] The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology quotes a similar form: "bowgard" (and "bouguer"), but claims that the Bulgarians were heretics "as belonging to the Greek Church, sp. Albigensian". Webster's Third New International Dictionary gives the only meaning of the word "bugger" as a sodomite, "from the adherence of the Bulgarians to the Eastern Church considered heretical".[2]

Bugger is still commonly used in modern English as an exclamation while "buggery" is synonymous with the act of sodomy.

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