Bounders and Cads

BOUNDERS AND CADS….I’ve just started reading Conrad Black’s biography of FDR ? a book so thick and heavy that it’s literally a pain to read ? and in an aside early on about Stanford White, the celebrated turn-of-the-century architect, he says:

White was a compulsive womanizer, both a bounder and a cad.

A bounder and a cad! And Black was careful to say that he was both a bounder and a cad, which got me wondering what the difference was. So I Googled it:

  • This site suggests that bounder is merely the British form of cad.

  • This site makes the same point more directly: “Bounder is old British slang for a morally reprehensible person; a cad.” That’s not much help either, and the hyperlink leads only to a definition of Computer Aided Design.

  • The presumably more authoritative Collins English Dictionary defines bounder as “a morally reprehensible person; cad.” Hmmm…..

  • Finally, this guy gives the following definition of bounder: “This is a very antiquated word used to describe someone who’s generally no good – a ‘bad egg’. It’s very old-fashioned – I suspect even Rudyard Kipling would have used it in jest.” Black’s biography, needless to say, has a 2003 copyright.

Now, there’s no question that Stanford White was not the kind of man you’d want hanging around your daughter, and his bounderosity and cadishness eventually led him to a bad end indeed.

But I’m still left mystified: why did Conrad Black insist on calling him both a bounder and a cad? What’s the difference? And why use a word that even Rudyard Kipling would have used only in jest?

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