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Don't Call Me a Loblolly, You Blatherskite

Top 10 Rare & Amusing Insults, Vol. 2


Definition:

lout; a stupid, rude or awkward person

About the Word:

Loblolly was originally a British word for "a thick gruel." Riffing on this, apparently, Americans later used the word to refer to an ugly, boggy mess.

It's unclear how the word developed its insulting sense, but perhaps the evolution was similar to the current use of words like thick and dense to mean "stupid."

Definition:

a person who talks foolishly at length

About the Word:

It's alteration of the Scottish compound blather skate (skate means "a contemptible person").

The word appears in a mid-seventeenth century Scottish ballad called Maggie Lauder in which the fair maiden bids her would-be suitor, "Begone ye hallanshaker / Jog on your gait, ye blatherskate ..." [Get lost, you vagabond / Be on your way, you blatherskate ...].

Definition:

a demon assuming female form in order to have sexual intercourse with men in their sleep

About the Word:

A succubus is the female version of an incubus - a demon in male form who has sexual intercourse with sleeping females.

Originating in medieval European folklore, with similar beings in many cultures, succubi appear in modern fiction, video games, and South Park.

As a more practical insult, the word is also used figuratively, as in this Jezebel.com headline: "This Week In Tabloids: Courtney the Evil Succubus Maneater Will Devour Bachelor Ben."

Definition:

a spiritless coward

About the Word:

P.G. Wodehouse was fond enough of this sixteenth-century term to use it in several of his books. For example:

"Archie ... was no poltroon, and had proved the fact on many occasions during the days when the entire German army seemed to be picking on him personally ..." (Indiscretions of Archie, 1921)

Poltroon comes from the Latin pullus, meaning "young of an animal."

Definition:

a swaggering braggart or boaster

About the Word:

The Cacafuego was a Spanish ship captured in 1579 by the English admiral Sir Francis Drake.

The word may have developed its insulting sense because some sailors - either the ones who lost the ship or the ones who won it - did some serious bragging.

Cacafuego, by the way, comes from the Spanish word fuego, meaning "fire," and, ultimately, the Latin cacare, meaning (ahem) "to void as excrement." The word probably referred to the ship's cannon fire.

Definition:

killjoy; someone who takes a pessimistic view of things

About the Word:

Black crepe fabric was once an important part of mourning ritual. It was sewn into dresses and veils, wrapped in bands around hats and arms, and draped over doors.

We can speculate that to those who started using this insult, a crepehanger was a "killjoy" almost in a literal sense - the sort of person who took pleasure in a funeral.

Definition:

shrew; an ill-tempered, scolding woman

About the Word:

Unlike most words on this list, harridan is still used with some frequency.

For example, a review of the movie Black Swan describes the main character's mother as, "a real piece of work, an unhappy stage harridan out of Tennessee Williams whose dreams for her daughter are etched into the bitter, melting beauty of her aging face." (Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly, December 30, 2010)

Harridan may be a modification of the French haridelle, meaning "old horse" or "gaunt woman."

Definition:

a dirty rascal; scoundrel; wretch

About the Word:

This seventeenth-century coinage even sounds nasty; the word's probable history backs it up. Slubber, an English dialectal word, means "stain" or "sully," and most likely comes from an obsolete Dutch word meaning "to walk through mud or mire."

Definition:

a man looked upon with humorous contempt or mock pity

About the Word:

Originally pilled garlic (pilled means "peeled"), pilgarlic refers to "a bald head" or "a bald-headed man," which it resembles. The mocking or humorous aspect followed.

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Definition:

bumpkin; hick

About the Word:

The dialectal chaw means "chew."

The current culinary prestige of bacon doesn't make "bacon-chewer" seem like much of an insult, but chawbacon came into use back when bacon had a far humbler status.

Want more? See Rare and Amusing Insults, Vol. 1




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