You can never appreciate the true beauty of a language until you’ve mastered and memorised its best insults – you never know when they’ll come in useful!
You may think that you have the English language down to a T, but the reality is, British people like their insults there is plenty of room up your sleeve for some extra firepower when it comes to name-calling.
The first 5 insults are still going strong in British English, but don’t worry, they’re not strong enough to offend people, unless you have particularly sensitive friends…
The last 5 are no longer in common use but are more archaic and you’re more likely to find them in a Shakespeare play than hear them in an argument. But most of them are hilarious and very inventive.
Modern day insults
Despite what you might assume, Skiver is not a clever abbreviation of skydiver. A Skiver is in fact someone who skips things; typically school, work and class etc. For example: Dan never comes to school. He’s such a skiver!
This is someone who eats a lot or a greedy person. The name comes from the seabird called a Gannet, which I’m assuming eats a lot… This is a word particularly favoured by mums.
A minger is a particularly unattractive person. My advice would be to avoid directly calling someone a minger, especially if they’re unattractive… However, if someone does something gross, like picking their nose, then you can call them a minger (or say “that’s minging!”) and they will not assume you’re calling them ugly – it’s a very useful word!
Trooper is less of an insult and more of a reference point for similes when describing people who do things… well, a lot. A trooper was a 17th century cavalry soldier, and apparently they didn’t do things in half measures. The most common one is to swear like a trooper, but you can also eat, fart, work and smoke like a trooper!
The distant origin of this insult is Berkeley Hunt and if you’re familiar with the concept of Cockney Rhyming Slang, you may be able decipher the original meaning… But the modern day implication is much milder than that. It just means someone who isn’t very smart, or an idiot.
Old school insults
A stampcrab is someone who is particularly clumsy. I had never heard of this one before but as a clumsy person is probably more likely to stamp on a crab, it is quite an easy one to remember.
An Old Irish insult for someone who loves gossip and is very nosy. They are always trying to find out other people business. A modern day synonym would be a “busybody” or even, a “gossip”.
Arguably one of Shakespeare’s greatest coinages, this word is used for someone whose sexual habits extend beyond the confines of their marriage… to put it in very British politeness. Synonyms would include: adulterer and philanderer.
This is probably my favourite old school insult. This is someone who swears all the time. Muck means “sh*t” or “excrement” and spout means to “spurt” or “emit” so it is easy to see where this compound insult came from.
A raggabrash is an especially disorganised or grubby person. Their bedrooms are in disarray and they dress scruffily. If you know you are a bit of a raggabrash, maybe avoid teaching this word to your friends…
Now you’re armed and ready to cross insults with the insulting elites of the English speaking world. But as Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” so you muckspouting berks, make sure you use your new words for good!