Words at Play

Rare and Amusing Insults, Volume 2

Sometimes a 'cacafuego' can be a real 'slubberdegullion'
22 May 2022

top 10 rare amusing insults vol 2 loblolly

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." The loblolly closely resembles the lobcock, which is defined as “a stupid blundering person.”

top 10 rare amusing insults vol 2 blatherskite

Definition:

a person who talks foolishly at length

About the Word:

It's an alteration of the Scottish compound blather skate (skate means "a contemptible person"). If you need to describe an overly chatty person, and blatherskite is too genteel for your tastes, you can always rely on clatterfart, an archaic word defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a chatterer, babbler, blabber.”

The Knickerbocker calls “Mr. George Jones” the “intense blatherskite of the Stratford-on Avon and Virginia theatres!”
The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), 30 Apr. 1841

man spraying hose

Definition:

“that spits much in his speech.” Thomas Blount Glossographia (1656)

About the Word:

Sialoquent typically functions as an adjective, which makes it an odd choice for a an insult (as most insults are nouns). Also, it has not seen much use outside of appearing in a small handful of dictionaries in the 17th century, so if you do use it most people will not know what you are talking about. It does have a pleasing specificity, however, and few people are going to be happy having it applied to them, so you may wish to add it to your collection of odd insulting words (everyone has a collection of this kind, don’t they?).

top 10 rare amusing insults vol 2 poltroon

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."

top 10 rare amusing insults vol 2 cacafuego

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.

From hence we departed, still following the Cacafuego, and our Generall promised our company, that whosoever could first descrie her, should have his chaine of gold for his good newes.
The principal navigations, voyages, traffiques and discoveries of the English nation, 1600

top 10 rare amusing insults vol 2 crepehanger

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.

man making so-so gesture

Definition:

a mediocre person

About the Word:

Not every insult needs to be the meanest word imaginable; sometimes a nice middle-of-the-road sort of term is called for. The word mediocre, on which mediocrist is based, comes from the Latin mediocris, meaning "of medium size, moderate, middling, commonplace.”

man with roguish smile

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."

top 10 rare amusing insults vol 2 pilgarlic

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.

Many of Hollywood's, US politics and television's giants have in the past few weeks shrunk to apologetic little pilgarlics as accusations of sexual predatory behaviour are revealed.
The Namibian (Windhoek, Nam.), 8 Dec. 2017

top 10 rare amusing insults vol 2 chawbacon

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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