Pads Brat: Etymology

Those of you who are pure “bl00dy civvies” are maybe wondering about the origins of the term “pads brat” as a description of a serviceman’s offspring.  

Let me explain.

“Brat” normally means an unruly or badly-behaved child.  Here it’s used as a term of endearment.

“Pad” because a “pad” is a slang term for a “married quarter,” a “tied cottage,” if you like, a house or flat provided to the serviceman by the Ministry of Defence.  By extension, a “pad” is one who lives in such accommodation, namely a married soldier.  Unmarried soldiers live in the sergeants/corporals mess or in barrack blocks, and an unmarried soldier is known as a “singly.”

Actually… there is an alternative explanation of where the term “pad” comes from.  A pad is something for punching and thumping, and given the domestic violence in some HM Forces families, maybe that’s a case of “many a true word said in jest.”


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