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How to Insult People Without Them Realizing It

Updated on February 2, 2015
What hokum! You're such a boondoggle!
What hokum! You're such a boondoggle! | Source

Insults Today are Vulgar and Unoriginal

You ever watch these talk shows today? Take shows like Jerry Springer. If you don't watch the show, just humor me for a bit. If you do watch the show...please don't admit to it.


I don't understand how shows like these are on the air, let alone so popular when you can't even understand what they are saying. Every other word is bleeped out or silenced. You ever try to watch a few seconds of shows like that? Where all you get is absolute dead air because everyone is cursing so much?

That's because the same vulgar insults are being slung back and forth. This lack of originality has become so unbearable I can't even take it. Wouldn't it be nicer to hear insults that don't have to be censored?

  • Insults that are unique and seldom heard.
  • Insults that haven't been used in so long that people don't even realize they're insults.

A good book of insults and some beer can make for a rousing night.
A good book of insults and some beer can make for a rousing night. | Source

Where Do We Find These Insults?

Just imagine it: You're furious with someone. Becky has been flirting with your crush again when she knows all too well how much he means to you. In a fit of rage, you exclaim, "Pelican!" and storm out of the room, leaving Becky confused as to why you called her a large sea bird.

Thanks to a little book I stumbled upon in the free bookshelf in the English department, I have an entire arsenal of insults ready to use at any given moment, and I am willing to share a few with you. These are some of the most innocent sounding and/or unique words I have come across without being too insulting and vulgar.

These are all insults that were terribly offensive hundreds of years ago, but if used now will be more confusing than anything else. That's OK. What matters is that you know what they mean, and you can feel superior and smug when doling them out.

Things are seldom what they seem,

Skim milk masquerades as cream.

High-lows pose as patent leathers,

Jackdaws strut in peacocks' feathers."

— 'H.M.S. Pinafore' (1878), W. S. Gilbert
You backbiting bilk! Yeah, I said it.
You backbiting bilk! Yeah, I said it. | Source

Old-Fashioned Insults B - H

backbiter: One who spreads rumors of another, usually going behind their back or stabbing them in the back.

bilk: A cheat. Formally an extremely degrading epithet.

boondoggle: Something or someone that is a waste or impracticable.

dippy: To be crazy or foolish.

flannelmouth: A smooth talker, or one who talks with a thick accent or takes too long to speak

flibbertigibbit: A silly, talkative person. Usually used to describe a woman.

That gaffer is absolutely dippy!

gaffer: Formally a term of respect, now an insulting way to address an older person. Similar to the term geezer.

gink: A poor, unfortunate man. Similar to a jerk or a goon.

goth - Formally known as a rude and uncultured individual. An obvious change to that word has been made over the years.

hokum: Pure and utter nonsense, told in an insincere manner.

hoyden: Originally used to describe a rude and arrogant man, it eventually turned into an insult against woman, similar to being called saucy or a hussy.

Of course, there's always the old-fashioned way of settling arguments.
Of course, there's always the old-fashioned way of settling arguments. | Source

Old Fashioned Insults J - M

jackanapes: One who is conceited and impertinent. A mischievous child.

Someone who talks or boasts too much, or struts around without right. Formally called a 'jack the daw'.

Someone who is two-faced. A liar and deceiver.

Someone who talks too much and can be easily tricked. Also known as a dolt or a hick.

Rather than a genre of music, jazz formally meant intercourse and was associated with the lowest of low. A term heard more in brothels

Go jazz a moose, you jackdaw!

Jonah: One who brings bad luck to others. Unfortunate.

lickspittle: An overly zealous flatterer. A yes man.

lumpenproletariat: The poorest of the poor.

meatball: One who is stupid and obnoxious. A meathead.

mollycoddle: One who is pampered, spoiled, or weak. Or a mixture of the three.

moose: A prostitute or mistress.

How to make modern day insults seem classy

Old Fashioned Insults O-W

ostrich: A stupid person who ignores reality and facts, like ostriches burying their head in the sand.

pelican: Can be used to describe a glutton, a tough woman, or even a prostitute.

popinjay: A fop, a person who is stuck up and conceited without reason. The original name for what we now call a parrot, it was meant to represent someone who repeats words without knowing what they meant.

quail: A timid person, a prostitute, or "jailbait."

I've never seen a more swellheaded popinjay!

ribbon clerk: An amateur. Sometimes a put down used in high stakes games to press other players.

swellhead: One who is vain or has a big head.

tweeb: One who spends all their time studying. Similar to dweeb or dork.

white feather: A coward in the face of danger. Like waving a white flag..

Now Go Out in the World and Use Your Knowledge

Try calling someone a few of these insults with a smile on your face. See if they're not just a little bit confused. And if you're convincing enough, they may even take it as a compliment! But you'll know the truth.

Let me know if you want more insults and put downs and feel free to add a few yourself if you know any.


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Yay! I am so glad for this. I like that's it's appropriate and all that but a great behind the back insult or comeback.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Ok this is amazing. Previously, ive veen insulting people in foreign languages (in confuses them, and as a bonus its always interesting when they mix up german and italian) but then i stumbled upon this, which i certainly plan on using, and flaunting the fact that its english. I know the post is a bit old and you may not view comments anymore, but i was just wondering, what is the name of that insults book you got this from?

    • profile image


      5 years ago


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The words would be fun to confuse friends with, but I honestly don't see how they could have any serious impact in places like the instance you've provided. I wouldn't feel very accomplished just for calling them something they don't know the meaning of. If you want actual dammage on people you dislike, insulting their logic, intelligence and hurting their pride by emberassing them with creativity would work much better in my opinion. But meh, if you feel better for calling someone you don't like a word that (Most likely) no one else in the room will know either, then go ahead, it just wont make them seem that stupid for being one of many that don't know the meaning. It could also result in you appearing arrogant at the assumption using words others don't understand makes your insults better.

    • jimmyglaughlin profile image

      Jim Laughlin 

      7 years ago from Connecticut

      Love it! I've actually used a couple of these, but I may be expanding my vocabulary to include all of them, LOL!

    • Nicole S profile image

      Nicole S Hanson 

      7 years ago from Minnesota

      Too funny, I haven't heard of most of these so I wouldn't realize if someone were insulting me either!

    • UnknownWon profile image

      Joe Smith 

      7 years ago from Parts Unknown

      This is a GREAT hub! I am definitely going to keep this and use these words! I have just the people to come at with this!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm guessing the person wo wrote this is like 60 years old or something.

      1st off, if the person you insult doesn't know your insulting them, it fails to be a n insult. 2nd off I want you to actually go up to anyone under the age of 25 and try this on them. Insults never go the way you want them to, especially with someone who is trying to make you mad.

    • MissyGear profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Oh, I use them all the time! I'm constantly calling my friends pelicans. Thanks, Kim!

    • mejohnson profile image


      7 years ago

      Missy this is great. I know a few jackdaws, Januses and backbiters. Now I can tell them to their face without them knowing! Voted up.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 

      7 years ago

      I actually know some of these. You are too funny! Have you been caught using these yet? Voted up and funny ^_^

    • HaleyMCruz profile image


      7 years ago from California

      I love these kinds of hubs! I loved yours since I haven't heard any of these before! At least used in this context...and for some reason 'quail' made me giggle. Nice hub :)

    • jjexon profile image


      7 years ago

      Good hubpage best topic


    • Green Lotus profile image


      7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Fun stuff! Rated up and bookmarked. I do believe the nuns in The Sound of Music called Maria a "flibbertigibbit" in the song song, "how do you solve a problem like maria?" Lol

    • MissyGear profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Well, of course I would prefer if this article was used just for fun. I certainly wouldn't imagine actually getting into an argument with these :)

    • rcrumple profile image


      7 years ago from Kentucky

      There are several there I'm actually familiar with, having been called them once or twice...or more. Some of them were used fairly often in the older "classic" comedies of the 40' & 50's.

      Great Hub! Completely enjoyed it!

    • MissyGear profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      I wish people my age used them. That would be something. I guess I'll just have to work on bringing them back and hope it catches on! Thanks for the comment, Effer.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      7 years ago from Carson City

      Missy...Believe it or not, I have heard of and used quite a few of these. We heard them all the time coming from our parents. The meanings were all pretty much the same as what you have given us....

      I especially remember ..mollycoddle, popinjay, dippy, boondoggle & ostrich.

      They're not used much today at all, except perhaps by the elderly.....who are probably the only ones left in our society who insist upon being polite at all times.!! LOL

      Cute hub!...................UP+++

    • BLACKANDGOLDJACK profile image

      Jack Hazen 

      7 years ago from Blitzburgh area

      Hey Missy,

      Yeah, I'll give your advice a go soon. I've been banned from the forums four times for much ado about nothing. When they let me back, I'll hit them with some of your lingo, and they won't know what hit them, right?


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