There is a crisis of insults on the Web. On one hand, the volume of flames is very high yet the quality is poor. Gone are the days of the razor-sharp wit of Oscar Wilde and Winston Churchill*, only to be replaced by a string of four letter words typed in ALL CAPS by n00bs (the latest of which is “FAIL”, itself a failure of coming up with a more scathing insult, if you think about it).
"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go," says Oscar Wilde.
George Bernard Shaw wrote to Winston Churchill, "I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend....if you have one." And Churchill wrote back, "Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second......if there is one"
Well, it’s hard to teach wit - but all of us can learn the next best thing: the approximation of it by obfuscation, i.e. using big, difficult, and obscure words. So, to do our part in improving the quality of insults on teh Interweb, Neatorama has come up with a list of 10 Insulting Words You Should Know:
1. FRENCHIFY (v)
Definition: 1) To make French in quality or trait 2) To make somewhat effeminate, and 3) To contract a veneral disease (a 19th century slang).
Analysis: We have the English to thank for this word. Most people implicitly understand that it means to become more like the French, but not a lot know the second or the third meaning. We’re still not sure which is more insulting.
2. BESCUMBER (v)
Definition: To spray with poo.
Analysis: Actually bescumber is just one of many words in the English language that basically mean “to spray with poo”. These are: BEDUNG, BERAY, IMMERD, SHARNY, and the good ol’ SHITTEN. In special cases, you can use BEMUTE (specifically means to drop poo on someone from great height), SHARD-BORN (born in dung), and FIMICOLOUS (living and growing on crap).
Alternative: If that is too vulgar, you can use BEVOMIT and BEPISS, which meanings should be obvious to you, as well as BESPAWL (to spit on).
Oh, and if you want to say poo without looking like you're saying it, you can use ORDURE, DEJECTION, and EXCRETA. To mean something more specific, you can use MECONIUM (first feces of a newborn child), MELAENA or MELENA (the abnormally tarry feces containing blood from gastrointestinal bleeding), LIENTERY (diarrhea with undigested or partially digested food), and STEATORRHEA (fatty stool that's hard to flush down).
Here are some words along the same line that may one day prove to be useful for you: TURDIFY (turn into turd), COPROPHAGIA (eating of feces [wiki]), and COPROPHILIA (Think 2 Girls 1 Cup [wiki - don't worry, SWF], if you don't know what this is, I shan't corrupt you any further).
Let's end entry number two with these two amazing words COPREMESIS and MISERERE, both of which mean fecal vomiting. Yes, fecal vomiting. It's a medical emergency caused by the obstruction of the bowel (source).
3. MICROPHALLUS (n)
Definition: An unusually small penis.
Analysis: Self explanatory.
Alternative: Insulting a man’s private part is a very reliable way to put him down (if he’s smaller than you) or to get beat up (if he’s larger than you). Usually, even a dimwit can decipher the meaning of this word, after all, it’s just a combination of “micro” and “phallus”.
So, to insult a physically larger opponent, we recommend you use these words instead: PHALLOCRYPSIS (retraction or shrinkage of the penis), CRYPTORCHID (undescendend testicles), and PHALLONCUS (tumor of the penis).
4. COCCYDYNIA (n)
Definition: Pain in the butt.
Analysis: It's a real medical term: coccydynia is pain in the coccyx or tailbone. Most people simply call it "buttache."
Similar: PROCTALGIA, PROCTODYNIA, PYGALGIA and RECTALGIA all mean pain in the butt.
Alternative: CERVICALGIA (pain in the neck), PHALLODYNIA or PHALLALGIA (both mean pain in the penis), and PUDENDAGRA (pain in the genitals).
The word "butt" is highly versatile in its vernacular use - you can say "butt face" or "hairy butt" - dem are fightin' words - but it's much better to use these instead: ANKYLOPROCTIA (stricture of the anus, the state of "tight-assity"), STEATOPYGOUS (fat-assed), DASYPYGAL (having hairy buttocks), and CACOPYGIAN (having ugly buttocks).
5. NINNYHAMMER (n)
Definition: A fool or a silly person.
Analysis: The word "fool," unless you're Mr. T, is sometimes woefully inadequate to express the stupidity of the person you're talking about. So use Ninnyhammer. Or at least NINNY.
Alternative: The English language is chockful of colorful words meaning stupid person, such as: DUMMKOPF, IGNORAMUS, JOBBERNOWL, GOWK, and WITLING.
For mental retardation, eschew the ubiquitous 'tard - rather, use AMENTIA (extreme mental retardation because of inadequate brain tissue), CRETINISM (mental retardation associated with dwarfism, caused by the deficiency of a thyroid hormone, a person with cretinism is a CRETIN), and MORONITY (used to mean mild retardation of having a mental age of 7 to 12 years, now it's an obsolete term though we still use the word moron).
6. BUNCOMBE (n)
Definition: A ludicrously false statement. Basically it means bullshit or nonsense.
Analysis: Actually, you probably already know this word by its more common spelling: bunkum.
The origin of this word is fascinating. In 1819, a North Carolina congressman, the Honorable Felix Walker, was giving a rambling speech with little relevance to the current debate. He refused to yield the floor, and claimed that he wasn't speaking for Congress but instead "for Buncombe" (a county in North Carolina he represented). That's all it took.
Over time, the spelling changed to "bunkum," and the meaning strangely changed to be "excellent." Then it changed back in 1870, when a San Francisco gambler introduced a new game "banco" played with dice that were later found out to be loaded. Sure enough, BUNCO became known to mean swindle or cheat, and bunkum reverted back to its original meaning. (Source)
The word DEBUNK came directly from this: it's just bunk(um) with the prefix de- (meaning to remove).
7. HIRCISMUS (n)
Definition: Offensive armpit odor.
Analysis: Hircismus comes from the root word "hircus" which means goat in Latin. Someone must have thought smelly pits smelled like goats. Actually, this word combines two sources of great insult potential: smelly and armpits. Why this is not used more often in the discourse of hateful communication is beyond me.
Alternative: As we've mentioned, armpit is an untapped goldmine for insults. Here are some examples of words you can use: MASCHALEPHIDROSIS or MASCHALYPERIDROSIS (excessive sweating of the armpits). MASCHALOPHILOUS (sexual attraction to the underarms) and AXILLISM (the use of armpit for sex).
Smelling like goats is also a good source of insults (especially since goat is also a slang for a lecherous man). Try CAPRYLIC and HIRCINE (smelling like a pungent goat), and CAPRIC (resembling a goat).
8. CORPULENT (adj)
Definition: Very fat.
Analysis: Good ol' fat is a reliable insult word. After all, nowadays, no one like a fatty ... except Mauritanian men. That's right: in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, fat and Rubenesque women are sexy and desirable. So much so, that instead of the crash diet of the West, they have a similar but opposite program: crash feeding or "gavage," where girls as young as 5 years old are force-fed milk, cream, butter, couscous and other calorie-rich food:
Girls as young as 5 and as old as 19 had to drink up to five gallons of fat-rich camel’s or cow’s milk daily, aiming for silvery stretch marks on their upper arms. If a girl refused or vomited, the village weight-gain specialist might squeeze her foot between sticks, pull her ear, pinch her inner thigh, bend her finger backward or force her to drink her own vomit. In extreme cases, girls died. (Source)
Interestingly, the ideal man is skinny (Mauritanians view portly men as womanish and lazy).
Alternative: ABDOMINOUS (potbellied), STEATOPYGOUS (fat-assed), and FUSSOCK (a very fat woman).
9. FEIST or FICE (n)
Definition: 1) A small dog of uncertain ancestry, a mongrel. 2) A person of little worth or someone with a bad temper, and 3) Silent fart.
Analysis: You actually already know this word: feist is used throughout the Midland and Southern United States to mean a snappy, nervous and belligerent little dog. The adjective feisty which means "full of spirit or spunky," comes from this word. But that's not why it's on this list (hint: #3!)
What you may not know is the true origin of the word. Feist comes from the Middle English fisten, which means to break wind (fist originally also meant flatus or fart). Feist is a special type of fart: the silent (and often deadly) type. Oh, and the word "fart" itself comes from another Middle English word farten or ferten, which in turn is from the Old English feortan.
Feist is the type of word that, if introduced to young adolescents, no doubt would spark a lifelong interest in learning new words.
Alternative: Fart is another one of those goldmines of insults. To obfuscate what you really mean, use instead: FLATUOSITY (fart). Other gems: EPROCTOLAGNIAC (someone aroused by flatulence, his own or someone else's), CARMINATIVE (something that makes you fart), and BDOLOTIC (prone to farting).
10. CACAFUEGO (n)
Definition: A swaggering braggart or boaster.
Analysis: Cacafuego literally means "shit fire" in Spanish. Anyone who boasts their new knowledge of insulting words from this article can be called a cacafuego.
That's not the only interesting thing about it:
Cacafuego is also the nickname of a 16th century Spanish galleon captured by Sir Francis Drake (El Draque or The Dragon as he was known to his Spanish victims). The ship's original name was Nuestra Señora de la Concepción (Our Lady of Conception), but for some reason it's called by her sailors as "cagafuego" (fireshitter) or "cacafuego" (shitfire).
It was Drake's biggest plunder: it took his crew four days to transfer the cargo from the Cacafuego. In all, Drake got 80 pounds of gold, 26 tons of silver, 13 cases of silver coins, jewels, and more.
Synonym: BLATHERSKITE, BRAGGADOCIO, FANFARON, GASCONADER, and RODOMONTADE (English is full of this kind of word, though I think caca "shit fire" fuego is in a class of its own!)
- Depraved and Insulting English, a marvelous book by Peter Novobatzky and Ammon Shea. Highly, highly recommended.
- The Free Dictionary by Farlex
- Free Thesaurus by DonationCoder (based on Grady Ward's Moby Thesaurus)
- Miriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary (it's behind a paywall)