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Noun, adjective & verb. Late Middle English.
[Probably from dazed, past participle adjective of DAZE verb + -ARD, influenced by DOTARD noun & adjective.]
A1 noun. obsolete. A dullard; a stupid person. LME-M16
A2 noun. A mean, base, or despicable coward,
especially one who does malicious acts in a skulking way. L15
B adj. Dastardly. L15
C verb trans. Dastardize. L16-M17
Adjective. Mid-16th century.
1 obsolete. Dull, stupid. Only in M16
2 Resembling or characteristic of a dastard;
showing mean or despicable cowardice. L16
Dastard and dastardly are two words that must not be allowed to slip into obscurity. The very definition of dastard - 'one who does malicious acts in a skulking way' - is too delicious, too gloriously apt, too pointedly penetrating, to fade from our vocabularies. For all the two-faced malicious schemers of the world, for those whose actions go far beyond any excusable level of human weakness, for all the politicians that peddle fear and blame and target the most vulnerable sections of society, there is a special place in the English language for you and your special brand of mean, despicable cowardice. A bunch of dastards, the lot of 'em.
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