8 Insults Made Up of a Noun and a Verb

A collection of put-downs bigger than the sum of their parts


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Definition - a drinker

The English language has a seemingly innumerable number of synonyms for “drinker.” Few, if any, of these words also carry the meaning of “baby bottle.” So what suck-bottle lacks in euphony it makes up for with a certain awkward utility.

A jolly Suck-Bottle, who was unhappily decoyed into the wrangling State of matrimony, happen’d to be bless’d over the Left Shoulder, with the Devil of a Termagant, so that if he was not ready to step into his Marriage-Bed….he was sure to have his Ears firinged with such a Peal of Tongue Thunder, more terrible to his Lungs than the Crowing of a Cock to the trembling Lyon.
— Anon. Laugh and Be Fat, 1724

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Definition - someone (such as a child) who tells secrets about what someone else has done : one who tattles

Tattletale (a blend of tattle and tale) is not a particularly new word, beginning to appear in the middle of the 19th century. So what did we call the people who informed the teacher who the culprit was behind that unfortunate incident with the thumbtack before this time? There were a number of choices, but some of the ones which are still common today, such as snitch (18th century) and telltale (16th century) predate tattletale.

Who’s going to tell? Are you going to be a tattle-tale? I ain’t one bit afraid of a hundred old Aunt Bashys; and, if you just keep still, maybe she won’t know any thing about it.
— Estelle Kendall, Master and Pupil, 1869

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Definition - a person who is overanxious to please his superiors or seniors

While there may be some similarities, the ear banger should not be confused with the earbasher (an Australian word for a person who talks or lecture overmuch) or the ear-bender (a primarily US term for someone who talks too much). Ear banger appears to have originated (in print, at least) in the 1940s, part of the rich slang of the United States Navy.

Piffsie Ear-Banger makes some numbers with Corporal Boot.
Leatherneck (Quantico, VA), Oct. 1942

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Definition - a skinflint

Many people love cheese, and that’s fine. The cheeseparer is not so much an aficionado of cultured milk as a hoarder of it, one who pares the rinds from cheese in order to save money. Think of them as penny-pinchers, but cheesier.

As a persevering cheeseparer, a persistent saver of candle-ends, a small—very small—imitator of the late Mr. Joseph Hume, Sir Andrew Lusk is probably, so far as the House of Commons is concerned, without a rival.
Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (London, Eng.), 8 Apr. 1876

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Definition - a coward

The English language has many fine words for “coward”: poltroon, yellowbelly, dastard, nithing, and several dozen others. However, fine though they may be, none of these words have the evocative power that comes from compounding quake and buttock.

And that will make him hardy and adventurous,
And not stand putting in one foot and shiver,
And then draw tother after, like a quake-buttock.
— Francis Beaumont, Comedies and Tragedies, 1647

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Definition - a footman

Fart-catcher, despite having a singularity of form and delicacy of expression which few words can match, never really caught on. This word (which yes, comes from combining fart and catch) appears almost entirely in dictionaries, especially those which documented slang in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Fart catcher, a valet or footman, from his walking behind his master or mistress.
— Francis Grose, A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue,1785

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Definition - a bad whist player

Every so often you need a specific insult, and bumblepuppist is about as specific as they get. We will grant you that the game of whist is not as popular as it once was, having been edged out by newfangled card games such as euchre and canasta, but once upon a time whist was the most deucedly popular card game in the land. This ranks pretty high on the list of words which are likely inapplicable in your life, but imagine how excited you will be if you do meet someone who not only plays whist, but is bad at it, and you have the appropriate descriptor.

Bumblepuppist is also sometimes rendered as bumblepupper, and the word for "whist played poorly or without regard for rules" is bumblepuppy (from bumble and puppy).

"Bumblepuppy," as defined by a renowned authority upon whist, is a game played by people who imagine that they are playing whist, but who in reality know nothing of that intricate game.
The New York Times, 1 Jul. 1883

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Definition - a tailor

Pricklouse comes from combining the verb prick with the noun louse, and has been used for some five hundred years to refer to a practitioner of the sartorial arts. It is not explicitly labeled as an insult, although in most cases in which it is used it does not appear to be intended as a compliment.

Ask the neighbours when you come home, and you will quickly hear, that by them was no thought of care or sorrow; but that they have plaied, ranted and domineer'd so that the whole neighbourhood rung with it; and how they have played their parts either with some dried Baker, pricklouse Tailor, or smoaky Smith, they themselves know best.
— A. Marsh, The ten pleasures of marriage, 1682




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