A “wanker” is something you would call someone who is doing something stupid, acting weird or irritating you in some other way.
It refers to a generally contemptible person, and serves as a universal insult, applicable to anybody.
It is a vulgar, British slang, derived from “to wank”, which refers to male masturbation, meaning that in a literal sense, the slang directly translates to “someone who masturbates”.
The word can be used synonymously with “asshole”, “cunt”, “dick”, “jerk” and numerous other insults.
Both in its literal and figurative meaning, it is very similar to the American slang “jerk-off”.
“Wanker” originates from the late 19th and early 20th century.
It started out as a public school slang, used by the “Felstedian” community at Felsted School in Essex in the early 1890’s. They derived it from “stwanker”, which originally started out as the insult “stinker”.
By the 1940’s, the expression was already widely recognized as “masturbator” and by the 1970’s, it was defined as a “contemptible person”.
Both meanings of the word refers mainly to males, although in Britain, “Wanker” is generally applied to any and everybody, that plays with one’s patience.
Now, in modern times, it more often used as an insult, rather than a sexual reference to masturbation.
As it originates from Britain, it is still a largely used form of insult for British native speakers, however, it has some usage in both Australia and America as well, although they prefer to use their own insults, such as jerk, or the more popular “cunt”.
“Wanker” can be often encountered in movies, books and series depicting life in the United Kingdom, or British people in general.
- Urban Dictionary – Wanker