You can never appreciate the true beauty of the English language until you’ve mastered and memorised its best insults!
British slang is an important part of the culture, and much of these slang terms are used as insults. Learning some of these will help you have British English down to a T.
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
Paigon (pronounced pay-gon)
In other words, a wasteman. If that still means nothing to you, this word is generally used in context of talking about someone you don’t like. In the famous words of J Hus “dem boys paigon, I can’t stand ’em”.
This word probably stems from the dated, once-derogatory word ‘Pagan’ that means ‘a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions’. The word nowadays has nothing to do with religion though.
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 one of the British insults particularly favoured by mums.
Minger (pronounced ming – err)
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! Minging is a closely related word, like when your flatmate leaves fruit to grow green fluff in the fridge – that’s minging.
Not to be mistaken with a puppet! This word does come from the famous show, but is used as an insult. Being a muppet is a slightly nicer way than calling them an idiot. It’s more likely to be used in situations where a silly mistake was made rather than when you’re really angry. Example: “Did you forget your keys again you muppet?”
A term used when someone appears to have no friends. For instance, if you’re home alone on New Years Eve you might say “I feel like a right Billy no-mates”. Usually used in a banterous way with friends rather than when you’re really trying to hit someone deep.
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’s 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 paigons, make sure you use your new words for good!