Bloke – What does “Bloke” mean in British slang?

While telling my Italian friends about my good friend Ollie from Glasgow I said “he is a good bloke”. Bloke? what nationality is that? No it is not a nationality! So what is my friend Ollie?

Bloke B-L-O-K-E is an extremely common term denoting a man. It is a noun used in reference to an ordinary man, with a similar meaning to “average joe” in America.

Bloke is a slang term for a common man found used in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
The earliest known usage is from the early 19th century, when it was recorded as a London slang term. The word’s origin is unknown, although many theories exist regarding its etymology… It has been claimed that the word’s roots arise from the Hindi word loke L-O-K-E, meaning a man.

In England bloke was originally found within the language of criminals meaning a man who was not a criminal and usually of high social standing. Criminals themselves would use the term to distinguish themselves from high class ‘blokes’ for example:

  • “I stole the bloke’s watch right off em.”

The earliest found written use of bloke was in 1829 in the court papers of the Old Bailey, The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales. During the trial of 17-year-old John Daly who was charged with housebreaking, where the owner of the house is referred to as a bloke.

Nowadays in the UK bloke is viewed as an average man, however this understanding is slightly different in Australia. In Australia, a bloke is a staple masculine archetype closely associated with the country’s identity and pride. The ideal “Aussie bloke” has been portrayed in important works of art and associated with famous Australian men throughout history. In Australia The phrase “He’s a good bloke” is frequently used and it literally means “he’s a good man”.

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