Friday, 18 October 2013

Brat - I Kid You Not

Brat, Naughty, Cheeky
And now children are pulling faces! What is this world coming to?
(photo by Carolina Georgatou)


Noun. Now dialectical.
[Old English (late Northumbrian) bratt from Old Irish bratt (Irish, Gaelic brat) mantle.]

1 Originally, a cloak. In later dialectical use, a pinafore, an apron;
contemptuously a rag, a scrap (of clothing). OE

2 The tough skin which form on porridge, etc. Scots. L17


Noun. Usually derogatory. Mid-16th century.
[Perhaps abbreviation of BRATCHET, or same word as preceding.]

A child, now especially an ill-behaved child.


Noun. Scots. Usually derogatory. Late 16th century.
[Apparently the same word as BRACHET.]

A little brat, an infant.

Once, while standing in line at a bakery, there was a beaming little blonde girl standing in the queue, smiling from ear to ear as her mum ordered a birthday cake with "I am 5!" printed on it. Catching the girl's eye I smiled at her, eager to share in her excitement. Her smile instantly disappeared and she ran over to where I was standing, kicking me in the shin as hard as she could with a cry of "Power Rangers!" Now, it's true that she was only five and I was a grown man, but a booted five-year-old can still pack quite a kick, especially when it's to the shin and you're not expecting it. Clearly the master of the instantaneous face-change, she reverted to her angel's face and sauntered back over to her mum who had turned, watched her little Power Ranger kick me, and then when I looked up from rubbing my shin she rolled her eyes at me! The word brat didn't escape my lips on that occasion, but it certainly went through my mind, as did several other choice words as the mum gathered up her stuff and, on leaving, rolled her eyes at me again. Brats might not be born, but they're certainly created, and I was pretty sure I had been in the presence of the master bratsmith on that day.

And brat is also the skin that forms on porridge which is ... umm ... interesting, right?
(photo by Adrian Clark)

What's the equivalent of brat in your language or area?

Were you a brat growing up?

How should we deal with the plague of brats overrunning our streets and promenades?

Please leave your most ill-behaved comments below.


  1. Goodness me!
    If I had've done that as a kid, I would still be feeling the punishment on my butt today!
    Ok, an exaggeration! But I would never have got away with it, and I would have had to apologize to you.
    And if my kid had've done it at any age, she would also have had to apologize and would have lost all her privileges for a time, depending on how solid the kick was! (she was and still is a football/ soccer player!)

    For me, a brat is a mischievous kid. Just one who gets into general mischief like playing pranks etc. without deliberately trying to injure anybody.
    Going around kicking adults is a whole new category!
    And mums who just roll their eyes? Good luck with that kid when she hits her teens.

    1. Yeah I would have expected bad things had I done that in front of my mum when I was a kid.

      Brat ... hmm ... I did think about what association it has: is it just a mischievous child, or one that is truly naughty? In Britain and Ireland, though, I think 'brat' does that have the connotation of a dislikeable, deliberately naughty or difficult child, rather than one that is just a bit of a rogue. Because the ones that are rogues, they're the most fun aren't they? : o )

  2. Precisely!! Brats are not born, they are created!
    Let me share my observations on the matter.

    When I was in Greece, I had 15-20 individual students annually. This means that I visited 15-20 different households, twice a week, every week. The people I worked with were from different social and educational backgrounds. However, the majority of them could easily fall into two broad categories: Those that went "blind" when their children were born and those who obtained "acute vision" when their children were born. The former category was tough to work with because the kids were brats and their parents endorsed their behavior. For example, I once told a father that his daughter wouldn't make any progress if she never did her homework. His answer was: "I won't ask my daughter to do homework, you should change your teaching method". The latter category was equally tough to work with because the kids somehow still managed to be brats, but their parents kept pointing out and penalizing every single mistake they made. For example, I had a 9-year-old student whose hair and eyebrows fell off during the schoolyear because he would get extremely stressed. However, his mom kept saying "I don't know what stresses him out" while at the same time she would tell him "Oh my god, you have a TEST tomorrow? You're not going to do well! You must study NOW!". Crazy.

    Of course there are exceptions, but unfortunately most parents I have met are like this, so I'm starting to get kind of hopeless.

    1. Hmm. That's food for thought, Evi, as I don't want to fall into either camp.

      If I was at risk of one, it would be the second I think, as I want my daughter to do well in school and make the best of her time there. It's not the be all and end all however, and I would never want to trade either her happiness or childhood for some academic success.

      Finding the balance is going to be tough. I'm pretty sure she's not a brat though - but then I'm biased, aren't I? : o )

    2. There are six hundred and seventy three ways of bringing up a child, and they're all wrong.
      Hm. I'm not sure if that's comforting or not.

    3. Well, no, it's not. But in fifteen years time, when my daughter tells me I picked the wrong method (as she will), then I will refer back to this comment, Sally, and tell her that it didn't matter which one I picked - t'would have been wrong anyway.

    4. If your daughter is still speaking to you then you'll have done magnificently.

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