Prat the British version of "jerk"?


Is the word “jerk” the US version of “prat” and vice versa? I mean, do British people use the word “jerk” to mean “idiot”/“annoying person”?

Many thanks,

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Hi Torsten,

I use ‘prat’ and ‘jerk’ and ‘twerp’ all meaning someone who in your opinion is irritating and not very bright. In fact there is the old, old joke based on the two meanings of ‘jerk’ (the person and a sudden movement) as in: The car stopped with a jerk and the jerk got out.


I generally don’t refer to anyone as a twerp, but I suppose there might be the odd person who’d be deserving of it if I did decide to use that word.

an offensive term that deliberately insults somebody’s seriousness or importance

a person regarded as insignificant and contemptible

By the way, in American English, the word jerk is most typically used in reference to a man, and this is apparently also the case in British English.
I don’t think the word ‘prat’ is in general use in the US. I’m not sure how many Americans might possibly know the British meaning of that word.

Uh, so just for reference, what about “git”? Is that more offensive?

Hi Barb D

“Git” of the terms given here is in my opinion the strongest, and often has an adjective added to it like;

old git
sarcy git
moody git
creepy git

and the list goes on.

The interesting thing about the word “git” is that it used to be a personal pronoun in Old English.[YSaerTTEW443543]

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Another interesting thing about ‘git’ is that in AmE it is simply a variant form of the verb ‘get’. :lol:

You meant saucy git, didn’t you ?

Hi, Amy

I checked up on “git’s” pedigree, and it derives from the word “get”:
from GET (in the sense: to beget, hence a bastard, fool)

Hi Torsten,

I don’t use the word ‘jerk’ at all, but I think Americans use it to refer to an ‘idiot or annoying person’. I think a ‘prat’ in BrE is what Americans would call a ‘dope’ or a ‘dork’.

It’s hard to make precise distinctions as to the degree of offence here, but I think you can use the words ‘git’ or ‘sap’ instead of ‘jerk’, and ‘wally’ instead of ‘prat’ synonymously.


Yes, that’s what he must have meant.

Hi Alex

I noticed that too when I checked Etymology-online. The thing is, the usage of ‘git’ in the US is typically as a verb – a variant of the verb ‘get’. For example:

  • I gotta learn to read so I can git me a license when I turn sixteen.
  • Bill here’s sure had ants in his pants these last few weeks he’s bin so scairt he wouldn’t git that house ready fer yuh t’ move in.
  • You might just do, Little. Lessen you got to git back to that train job.
  • Don’t you come back here. Never. Now git!

While in the realm of the twerp, git, prat, jerk and whoever, there is the word ‘pratfall’ that describes when you do something embarrassing humiliating in public like slipping on a banana skin. After all Charlie Chaplin made a living out of it.


Hmm… Somehow this reminds me of errors in tests. Don’t you think a refusal to correct an error that has been identified is more embarrassing and foolish than the error itself? :wink:

Hi Amy,

Dwelling over and over on the same subject might be embarrassing too. We have all read your numerous messages about your hobby horse why can’t you just leave at that?[YSaerTTEW443543]

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hi Alex

I meant sarcy which is short for sarcastic.

So thanks Ralf for assuming.
You know what they say about it, and you and me ; )

I think git can be more offensive, but with the right tone in BrE it is also pretty harmless.
I called one of my new friends and a business partner a creepy git yesterday, but with a tone such that he did not take offense.

The fact is that with Brits you know they like you when they take the p***.
If they don´t start to worry ; )

Why not just fix the darn thing, Torsten?