Words related to -ard
Compare German bänkling "bastard; child begotten on a bench" (and not in a marriage bed), the source of English bantling (1590s) "brat, small child." Bastard was not always regarded as a stigma; the Conqueror is referred to in state documents as "William the Bastard." Figurative sense of "something not pure or genuine" is late 14c. Use as a generic vulgar term of abuse for a man is attested from 1830. Among the "bastard" words in Halliwell-Phillipps' "Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words" are avetrol, chance-bairn, by-blow, harecoppe, horcop, and gimbo ("a bastard's bastard").
As an adjective from late 14c. It is used of things spurious or not genuine, having the appearance of being genuine, of abnormal or irregular shape or size, and of mongrels or mixed breeds.
"one who lacks courage to meet danger or shrinks from the chance of being hurt," mid-13c., from Anglo-French couard, couart, Old French coart "coward" (no longer the usual word in French, which has now in this sense poltron, from Italian, and lâche), from coe "tail," from Latin coda, popular dialect variant of cauda "tail" (see coda) + -ard, an agent noun suffix denoting one that carries on some action or possesses some quality, with derogatory connotation (see -ard).
The word probably reflects an animal metaphoric sense still found in expressions like turning tail and tail between legs. Coart was the name of the hare in Old French versions of "Reynard the Fox." Italian codardo, Spanish cobarde (Old Spanish couarde) are from French. The spelling in English was influenced by cow (v. and n.).
[S]o strong is the false belief that every bully must be a coward that acts requiring great courage are constantly described as cowardly or dastardly if they are so carried out as not to give the victim a sporting chance; the throwing of a bomb at a king's carriage is much less dastardly than shooting a partridge, because the thrower takes a very real risk .... [Fowler]
As a surname (attested from mid-13c.) it represents Old English cuhyrde "cow-herd." As an adjective, "lacking courage, timorous," from late 13c. Farmer has coward's castle "a pulpit," "Because a clergyman may deliver himself therefrom without fear of contradiction or argument."
also *ker-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "hard."
It forms all or part of: -ard; Bernard; cancer; canker; carcinogen; carcinoma; careen; chancre; -cracy; Gerard; hard; hardly; hardy; Leonard; Richard; standard.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit karkatah "crab," karkarah "hard;" Greek kratos "strength," kratys "strong;" "hard;" Old English heard, German hart "solid and firm, not soft."
Old English names for the creature were the Celtic borrowing brock; also græg (Middle English grei, grey). In American English, the nickname of inhabitants or natives of Wisconsin (1833).
"one who asks alms," especially as a way of life, c. 1200, from Old French begart, "a member of the Beghards," a mendicant order of lay brothers in the Low Countries, from Middle Dutch beggaert "mendicant," a word of uncertain origin, with pejorative suffix (see -ard). The common noun is perhaps from the proper name; compare Beguine. Early folk etymology connected the English word with bag, but this is now dismissed (see OED).
From mid-14c. as "one who is indigent" (whether begging or not). From c. 1300 as "mean or low person;" as a familiar term for "a fellow, man" by 1833. Form with -ar attested from 14c., but begger was more usual 15c.-17c. The feminine form beggestere is attested as a surname from c. 1300. Beggar's velvet was an old name for "dust bunnies."
"a boaster," 1570s, formerly also braggard, from French bragard (16c.), with pejorative ending (see -ard) + braguer "to flaunt, brag," perhaps originally "to show off clothes, especially breeches," from brague "breeches" (see bracket (n.)). There may be an element of codpiece-flaunting in all this.
Also as an adjective, "vain, boastful" (1610s). The word in English has been at least influenced by brag (v.), even if, as some claim, it is unrelated to it. Bragger "arrogant or boastful person," agent noun from brag (v.), is attested in English from late 14c. and has become practically a variant of this word.