Friday, 13 September 2013

Bolshie - Seeing Red

Communist, Bolshevik, Commie, Boshie,
Image by Nicholas Raymond


Noun & adjective. Slang. Also Bolshy, b-. Early 20th century.
[from BOLSHEVIK + -Y.]

A noun. = BOLSHEVIK noun. E20

B adjective. = BOLSHEVIK adjectiveleft-wing, uncooperative, recalcitrant. E20

Also: bolshiness noun L20

"Oi! Don't get all bolshie with me, mate!" Bolshie is a curious (chiefly British) colloquialism for when someone is being uncooperative, uppity and difficult, especially about following instructions they don't feel they should have to follow. It might not even be an outright refusal to obey, but rather an awkward, obstructive and questioning response to what's being asked. For these types, bolshie is a handy little adjective, conveniently lumping their clearly Communist sympathies in with their utter audacity in questioning authority (your authority, to be precise). It's a particularly odd word as, in Britain, a communist inclination doesn't cause the same revulsion as it does elsewhere (such as the United States, for example). Rather, if someone announces that they believe in communist ideals, their naivety is treated with a certain patronising sympathy, an "Aww!" at their anachronistic idealism and precious gullibility. Perhaps the true origin of bolshie, however, stems from the fact that Brits tend to do what's asked of them and definitely don't like making a scene. Therefore, the man that's openly complaining about again being asked to change tables in a restaurant is indeed being 'a bit bolshie', if not downright revolutionary. Brits don't do that sort of thing, you see; it's just not cricket.

Has anyone ever said to you that you're being a bit bolshie?

Is bolshiness in your nature?

Do please leave your reddest, most uncooperative comments below.


  1. They ask to change tables AFTER they sat you down somewhere? Man, I wouldn't move. No way. They should've shown me the right table from the start. Does that make me a communist? Not at all. It just makes me someone paying you money in the hope you'll service me accordingly. If anything, that's a capitalist way of thinking.

    1. Yup. You're definitely bolshie. The proper thing to do is just to fall into line and do what's being asked of you.

  2. So why isn't there a colloquialism 'Menshie' to describe someone who generally tends to be more moderate and is more positive towards the "mainstream" liberal opposition?

    -clueless, trying to appear learned with the aid of wiki.

    1. Ah ha! Maybe I have a little surprise for you when we get to 'M' ...

      *I don't ... 'menshie' isn't there ... I checked*