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In Serenity (2005), a very dangerous enemy called the "Reavers" are about to break into the room. River, by far their best fighter and only hope against the Reavers, is in the corner having a mental breakdown, clutching her head:

River: The Reavers. They are all made up of rage. I can't shut them up.

So Jayne critizes River:

Jayne: She picked a sweet bung of a time to go helpless on us.

What does "picked a sweet bung of a time" mean?

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    There could be some Western state where this is an expressions. I certainly have never seen it. Think of it as: She picked a hell of a time to go helpless on us. When writers want to avoid clichés, what they use is sometimes worse than the cliche....
    – Lambie
    Oct 17, 2021 at 17:40

1 Answer 1

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It's more Firefly slang invented by the series writers.

"Bung", or more commonly "bunghole", is an English word that can mean "asshole", but in the Firefly universe, "bung" is used as a replacement for "fuck". An example of its use earlier in the movie:

Mal: There's a lot of fine ways to die. And I ain't waiting for the Alliance to choose mine. I mean to confound those bungers.

So the equivalent of that phrase in real English would be: "picked a sweet fuck of a time".

This English expression is highly colloquial, and nearly always used sarcastically. Here, it means that this is an extremely inconvenient time for River to go helpless on them, when they're about to be killed by the Reavers.

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    The slang in English for that is: to take one's sweet ass time.
    – Lambie
    Oct 17, 2021 at 18:06
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    @Lambie - decidedly American English, I would say. Oct 17, 2021 at 18:07
  • @MichaelHarvey Ah, Michael, right you are.
    – Lambie
    Oct 17, 2021 at 18:11
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    In UK informal English a bung is usually a bribe. Oct 17, 2021 at 18:47
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    @Lambie To "take one's sweet (ass) time" means to do something slowly, with lack of concern for others' timelines. To "pick a sweet (ass) time" means the timing is bad. These are not the same thing. In this context, it definitely means bad timing, not taking too long. I've added some context in the OP, if that helps
    – gotube
    Oct 17, 2021 at 21:07

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