“Embodied Insults”

I suppose that anyone who is around young kids has learned that any discussion of rear ends using any kind of slang word is bound to cause gales of laughter. “You butt” and “you booger” seem to be the extent of insults for little kids.

Strangely adults seem to limit their insults to much cruder language, almost always referring to body parts not show in toddler body parts books. There seems to be a plethora of choices for both male and female “private” parts and they all seem to be slung around as insults. Adults seem to have abandoned the simpler “butt” and “booger” for the most part. Apparently calling someone a “foot” or an “ear” has never seemed to have caught on.

I am not, by the way, writing this in the hopes of collecting crude slang words. Please keep any lists that come to mind to yourselves. Rather I am hoping to hear insults that don’t involve body parts. My favorite insult came from my daughter when she was four years old. She called me something she hated more than anything. “You, you.. Swiss steak!”

Gentle teasings preferred. Does anyone still use “nincompoop?” (entymology shows no connection to body functions by the way!)

33 thoughts on ““Embodied Insults”

  1. I still use nincompoop, usually in regard to politicians. Another favourite of mine is the old word, ‘Buffoon’, also often applied to politicians, especially our current leader.
    One that is used a lot in England originates from London slang. “As thick as two short planks” refers to someone who is not very bright, or lacks dexterity in manual tasks. This has long been shortened to “You plank”, as an direct insult, or “What a plank” when referring to someone.
    (I managed it with no rude words or swearing!)
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. You are right about swear words, Elizabeth, and I sometimes wonder about the ones we use too. The meanings of the words are at odds with their current usage. My mom always uses bloody which is very British. I was called a pampoenkop [pumpkin head] by one of my teachers when I was six.

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  3. I like pumpkin – just on it’s own.
    I struggled to find derogatory terms I could use when story-writing. I used Dunk when a single syllable sounded best but sometimes the rhythm of an insult asks for more syllables.

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  4. No one was a wittier ‘insulter’ than Dorothy Parker. Among my favorite Parker insults are:

    “That woman speaks 18 languages and can’t say ‘No’ in any of them.”

    Asked at a party if she was Dorothy Parker, she replied “Yes, do you mind?”

    Told that a certain famous lady was always kind to her inferiors, Ms. Parker asked “And where does she find them?”

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great post! In our family, we’ll sometimes use ‘dingbat’ when referring to someone acting or making dubious decisions. And ‘plonker’ comes to mind. A favourite term in the very british comedy series Only Fools and Horses 😊

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  6. Back when I was a child, calling your sibling “dumb” was the worst thing you could ever say. One of those “oh, no, you didn’t” moments followed by dramatic silence and someone getting time out. Kids are so innocent. But, for the record, I agree that calling someone dumb IS a pretty bad thing, so I guess our mom was on to something? (And neither of us kids still use cuss words anywhere near our parents, of course)

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  7. An Army Drill Instructor would call my fellow trainees and me, ‘sh.. heads’ which was probably more intimidating than ‘potato heads’. At least when he did that, we all looked his way. (he was later reprimanded by superiors)

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  8. Here in Australia back in the day, ‘you’re a dag’ (dags are the droppings that get stuck on the rear end of a sheep’s fleece) used to be an insult.

    But its meaning changed entirely three decades ago to mean ‘you’re cute in a nerdy type of way!’

    The shifting sands of colloquialisms is fascinating to me Elizabeth.
    Blessings,
    Jennifer

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