Name calling is great fun. I am so fond of insulting names, in fact, that I reserve them only for those I love the most (I'm weird like that).
Still, the modern names we call each other are a bit lackluster in the creativity department, and it's easy to get caught in a rut and call people the same thing over and over. Where is the fun and ingenuity in that?
Why not consider some alternatives? Believe me, there are many. Men have been trading insults since language was first invented. We need not limit ourselves to using only the most current names out there.
I am therefore pleased to present to you over 50 insulting names that were used in the past- specifically in the Medieval and Renaissance periods of history. Some of them are refreshingly harsh, while others are downright hilarious. I hope you find them as amusing as I do!
So far, all the "modern" insulting names (starting with the letters A-C) I can think of are buttface, b@#$h, bastard, @$$#ole, and c$%^. What a boring mix. I'm all for using these as alternatives.
- Ballarag: A bully
- Borborygmite: The rumbling of bowels (creative, to be sure)
- Blighter: A pitiful, annoying or contemptible person (because of this word's similarity to the word "blight" I don't even think that the person you're insulting will have trouble figuring out what the word means)
- Cacafuego: A braggart (even if nobody understands what this means, it's a great insulting name, and actually sounds worse then it is... I mean, doesn't the word bring up mental images of flaming poo?)
- Carrion: Decaying flesh of a dead animal
- Charlatan: A fraud
- Clotpole: Clot = oaf; pole = male genetalia (a great combo-name!)
- Coccydynia: A pain in the ass (sounds quite fancy)
- Cullion: A vile person... or testicle! (another great word that just sounds insulting and rolls off the tongue quite nicely)
I could not tell you why this is the case, but it seems to be that folks like uttering words starting with FFFFFFFFF when they're angry. For this reason, there is quite a preponderance of lovely vintage insulting names starting with the letter F that we can draw on. They make for fantastic alternates to our modern favorite F word and its variants.
- Fanfaron: A bully or boaster
- Feist: A worthless or bad tempered person / a silent fart / a mutt (the multiple meanings for this word make it extra valuable!)
- Fiend: An evil spirit, a demon, or the devil (this is still somewhat commonly used, so you won't have to worry too much about nobody understanding the insult)
- Fustilarian: A member of a lower social order (this word is a great name to call someone who doesn't understand its meaning- they may think you're complimenting them or something, which would be extra hilarious, as you're then additionally insulting their ignorance of obscure old words)
- Foot-licker: Self explanatory (gotta love the timeless nature of this one!)
- Fusty: Smelling stuffy or stale / old fashioned (easy to remember once you associate it with the more commonly-used word "musty")
- Futtock: The Europan kite (a bird) (you can also use the word Puttock) (I like this word because it sounds like buttock)
The entire alphabet of old insulting names is quite robust, which means we have a lovely variety of mid-alphabet options to choose from. Some of my favorites (gundygut and lothario) are in this section.
- Gundygut: A greedy person or voracious eater (sounds like a candy you might buy on the Hogwarts Express!)
- Hag: An old woman (commonly understood today, but nonetheless vintage, this word has some serious staying power!)
- Harlot: A promiscuous woman or prostitute
- Hog: A domesticated pig
- Harpy: An unscrupulous woman... or a winged creature with the head of a woman (either way, it’s a win)
- Hedge-pig: A much cooler word for a hedgehog
- Giglet: Now, this word means a playful or giddy girl, but back in the 1300s, it meant a lascivious woman
- Guttersnipe: An ill-bred person or street urchin
- Jester: A joker
- Loon: A silly person or a diving waterbird (more people should be calling each other waterbirds)
- Lout: An aggressive or uncouth guy
- Lothario: A man who behaves selfishly and irresponsibly in sexual relationships with women (we've all met more than our fair shares of lotharios, am I right, girls??)
Perhaps I am forgetting something great, but I can't think of any particularly good modern insulting names that start with the letters M-P (Pimple face? Oh! Prick. There's one, at least), so it's nice to know that we have some old classics to fall back on.
- Moldwarp: This is the name for a common European mole... but sounds fantastic!
- Malt-worm: A habitual drunk
- Mammet: A puppet or doll
- Microphallus: A much better way to insult another’s manhood
- Mudsill: A low or dirty place or state
- Mundungus: A stinking tobacco (Yep, not just a Harry Potter character!)
- Minx: An impudent, bold, or flirtatious girl (Still used in modern times, and is as fantastic as ever)
- Ninnyhammer: A silly fool
- Nut-hook: A thief who steals using a hook
- Numpty: A Scottish idiot
- Oaf: A clumsy, stupid, or uncultured person
- Poxed coward: A jinxed coward
The variety, creativity, and quality of old insulting names does not flag near the end of the alphabet. If anything, it gets better! To be honest, I cannot fathom why words like trollop and varlot ever fell out of favor. I sincerely hope they can make a comeback.
- Rampallion: A mean, despicable person
- Ratsbane: Rat poison
- Scoundrel: An unscrupulous, dishonest person
- Scullion: The male equivalent of a scullery maid
- Scut: A fool
- Scroyle: A wretch or mean fellow
- Skellum: A reckless, noisy person
- Strumpet: A prostitute or slutty woman
- Trollop: A promiscuous woman; a slut
- Varlot: Punk (Shakespearian)
- Viper: A treacherous, spiteful person
- Welp: An insolent youth
- Wretch: A contemptible, unfortunate person.
Take these for a spin!
The next time you think of calling someone a jerk, take a second to think if they might be given a more playful, different name, such as fustilarian, cacafuego, numpty, or lothario. Each witty insult you deliver is an opportunity for your vocabulary to shine! Don't miss out on the obscure-but-honorable glory of clever word wielding.
Do you have a favorite old word that can be used in insults? Share it in the comments! I know there are many more insulting names out there than are included in the list above. Help me make it more complete!
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on October 16, 2020:
A lot of these can well be applied to the 45th occupant of the white house....whom I refuse to call "president."
Lilly b on July 23, 2020:
LaDena Campbell from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz... on March 05, 2013:
I love caucafuego!! I will use it from now on! It's great!
LetitiaFT from Paris via California on June 30, 2012:
"Buzzard bait" has long been one of my favorites, but your "carrion" is just so much more succinct and to the point...
Chris Hugh on June 21, 2012:
Thank you for expanding my vocabulary.
This Hub really came in handy as I was trying to figure out how to refer someone to HubPages. I was having a bit of frustration figuring it out.
I ended up blogging about it on my Serpie the Spider blog (see my profile if anyone wants to see it) and I linked to this Hub as an example to show people how to insert their own referral tracker into links to other Hubber's Hubs.
I might have got carried away and called you a fustilarian woldwarp. I'm sorry about that. I can be a poxed scaliwag at times.
Shaddie from Washington state on June 21, 2012:
I love this hub!!!
I like to refer to people as 'odious' or as 'fops.' 'Troglodyte' and 'dingbat' are good, with 'nincompoop' being another fun one, though everyone knows what that one already means!
Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on June 20, 2012:
Untrue Wesman! Both would have to be eliminated for you to qualify! LOL!
Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on June 20, 2012:
No thanks, Randy!!!!!!!!!!!! I'd have to off one of me huevos in order to maintain such a pc tude!
Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on June 20, 2012:
I know what you mean, Wesman! I got a week ban for offering another hubber a soda cracker! LOL! Become an Elite Wesman, they are protected from bans more than the common Hubber. :o
Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on June 20, 2012:
Ain't this stuff why I'm hardly ever allowed in the forums here?
Chris Hugh on June 20, 2012:
Thank you so much! You have expanded my vocabulary. People are so vulgar nowadays that they've even taken the joy out of f*ck. It is so overused. These great insults are downright subversive! I believe I will make new enemies just so that I have occassion to use them.
Up, shared, linked to and one day hopefully memorized!
Marissa from United States on April 11, 2012:
OOooohhh.. I'm now so tempted to print out this list and use it for telemarketers! (snicker) This is hilarious, Simone. Love it! My favorite would have to be 'varlot', simply because it is Shakespearian and I'm that kind of nerd. :D
Om Paramapoonya on April 07, 2012:
Good morning, Loon. Excellent hub! I think one of my most favorite insulting names has to be "perishable monkey," which I came across in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.
Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on April 06, 2012:
Simone, You're definitely not a snollygoster!
With all the effort you put into this research, you gave me some useful tools. No longer do I need to bite my tongue when I feel like letting someone know how I feel about them. I can just use one of these terms. And in many cases those simpletons will never know what I'm saying anyway. But I will. And that's all that matters.
Thanks for a great list and a great idea!
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on April 06, 2012:
Oooh, ruck!!! That has a wonderful ring to it, and its rhyming potential really is BRILLIANT!! Thanks so much for sharing that, L. Spikes!
Hehee, thanks randomcreative and Mmargie1966. I sure had fun researching these words.
Teheheee!!!! Fartleberries!!! Thanks Angie Jardine!
You are most welcome, drbj. I find that insults that confuse those one insults are excessively fun.
OMG, rmcrayne, how on earth could I have left out knave?!!? THANK YOU!! O____O And you're so right- ambiguity in insult is a wonderful thing. I love insults that are half insult, half compliment/affectionate retort.
And I totally am wearing a dirndl in that video, melbel. You should totally join me in attempting to bring them back. It's WAY fun to wear 'em. You'll get lots of compliments, plus they're super practical and comfy. And I quite frequently deliver ironic insults, too. It's so much fun! Your sense of humor, melbel, may be weird, but it's awesome in my book.
Melanie Palen from Midwest, USA on April 05, 2012:
You're totally wearing a dirndl in your video, aren't you? I wish I had the confidence to wander the streets in a dirndl or something! Love the insults by the way, I think I like rampallion the most. It's so bold sounding!
I'll sometimes call people insults in like an ironic way. I'll also do ironic "your mom" jokes... basically in that they're such immature jokes, but are hilarious when mis-used. Like, "Your mom goes to college." I have a weird sense of humor I guess.
rmcrayne from San Antonio Texas on April 05, 2012:
What about knave? You can put some indignation behind that one, right?
I'm thinking the most hilarious insults are the ones where the recipient has no idea whether it was an insult or not.
I'm liking cacafuego, gundygut, guttersnipe, maltworm, and ninny hammer as new (to me, but) old insulting names.
drbj and sherry from south Florida on April 05, 2012:
Thank you, Simone, for adding immeasurably to my collection of insulting words that most recipients will not understand. Makes for lotsa fun.
Angie Jardine from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on April 05, 2012:
Well, lobcocks and fartleberries to you too ...
Fun hub, Simone ... great chuckle.
Mmargie1966 from Gainesville, GA on April 05, 2012:
I love this! Voted up and funny!
Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 05, 2012:
Great idea for a hub! Too funny.
L. Spikes from Florida on April 05, 2012:
Another great post, Simone. I have one for you that I recently started using more often. "Ruck" - a noun that describes an undistinguished, inferior, or insignificant person (or group) who will more than likely never rise to a position of worth or standing against those with established power (e.g., followers and pseudo-leaders). It sounds harsh enough by itself and also rhymes with several other choice words, making it even more appealing.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on April 05, 2012:
Hehee, ninnyhammer is definitely a good one, Sunshine625!!
And boy, that makes me very happy to hear, QudsiaP1.
Hehee, clotpole is one of my favorites too, theclevercat! And now I'm going to think of that word every time I hear of chipotle, hehee! Hedgepig is also just SO ADORABLE. Gotta love adorable insults!
And doesn't it just, Healthy Pursuits! I love it for that.
Thanks Pamela99! Interesting and entertaining = my favorite combo.
Hahaa, a video that can produce a strange look from onlookers is a successful one in my book. Hurrah! Thank you, Outbound Dan!
Dan Human from Niagara Falls, NY on April 05, 2012:
Ahh, another fantastic video, and one that produced strange looks from my wife this morning. Thanks for the chuckles!
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 05, 2012:
Great video. This is a very interesting and entertaining hub. Rated up!
Karla Iverson from Oregon on April 05, 2012:
Great list! My favorite is Borborygmite - it really does describe the rumbling of bowels.
Rachel Vega from Massachusetts on April 04, 2012:
At first I read "clotpole" as "chipotle", and wondered why that was an insult. Oops! That and "hedgepig" are my new favorites. :^)
QudsiaP1 on April 04, 2012:
Had me in a buffet of laughter!
Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on April 04, 2012:
There are some fun names here. My personal favorite is ninnyhammer! It's my word of the day! Thank you Simone!!