293. Bullebak

bully, ogre, browbeater [noun] [de bullebak, de bullebakken] [‘bu-lu-bak’]

Although "bully" can be used for both children and adults in English, "bullebak" is nearly always used in relation to adults. A "bullebak" is more a rude/uncivilized person (usually male) than the typical "bully" giving other school children a hard time. In case of the latter, "pestkop" is a better translation (see Related words).

– "Wat een bullebak is die kerel! Moet je kijken hoe hij z’n vrouw behandelt…"
("That guy is a real bully! Look at how he treats his wife…" Lit.: "Must you look how…")

– "Kinderen die een bullebak van een vader hebben, pesten op school vaak andere kinderen."
("Children who have a browbeater of a dad, often bully other kids at school.")

– "Frank gedroeg zich weer eens als een echte bullebak tijdens de vergadering. Hij zat de hele tijd te schreeuwen tegen iedereen."
("Once again Frank acted like a real bully during the meeting. He was yelling at everybody all the time.")

Related words:
– "Pestkop": pest, nuisance, bully, from "pesten" and "kop" (informal synonym for "head").
– "Pesten": to badger, to bully.

2 thoughts on “293. Bullebak

  1. I’ve been wondering lately if there is any relation to the Jamaican word bull bukka, which means more or less the same. Thoughts on etymology?

  2. Hi Kipa – thanks for this interesting remark. I’ve looked up the etymology of ‘bullebak’. The first part is thought to stem from ‘bulderen’: to shout (low voice, mostly use for men). The second ‘bak’ means container but also ‘boat/ship’ (nowadays especially if it transports goods, often open boats, the ones you see with sand for example).
    Dating back to 17th century.
    Another word related to shipping is ‘zuipschuit’, also mostly used for men, in this case ‘schuit’ is another word for ‘boat/ship’, and ‘zuipen’ is slang for ‘to drink excessively’, in other words a ‘drunk’.
    With our extensive sailing history, it’s not unlikely this word ended up in other cultures, but I can’t confirm ‘bullebak’ was corrupted to ‘bull bukka’ in Jamaican…

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