A yob (thug, lout...) by any other name

6th October 2006 at 01:00
The Diary has been musing about "yobs" now that Scotland Yard has banned the operational use of the term on grounds that it alienates young people.

("Word might upset thugs," explains The Sun.) A pity, because "yob" is both pithy and a rare surviving example of Cockney back slang ("boy"


So what are the alternatives? Hoodlum, hooligan, lout and tearaway are a bit passe and no good backwards, although scum makes the nicely ambiguous "musc". "Youth" is inoffensive but boring and sounds Chinese if you say it back to front. Chavs and pikeys? Not quite thuggish enough. (The new Collins English dictionary defines "chav" simply as "a young working-class person who dresses in casual sports clothing".) We see promise in a regional alternative in Collins: the East Anglian "yarco". It has undertones of youth and narcotics, with a bright Asbo finish.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today