We seem to have lost the art of the inventive insult; today's slurs seem, somewhat pathologically, to focus on the names of a limited number of body parts.

Below is a list of colourful barbs of the past which have fallen out of use, some of which are badly needed and warrant reinstitution.

abydocomist - a person who boasts about their lies

bedswerver - an adulterer

bespawler - one who spits and dribbles when speaking

blunderbuss - a blundering, unsubtle sort

bottle-conjuror - an unscrupulous fraud or charlatan; someone who never delivers on their promises

carbuncle - a rude, churlish undesirable

clack-box - an incessant chatterer

chuckle-head - a fool

clinchpoop - an uncouth youth

cockalorum - a vain, boastful, self-important, swaggering person

coxcomb - a vain, conceited sort

cumberworld - a completely useless person

driggle-draggle - a dirty, untidy sort

Duke-of-Limbs - a tall, awkward fellow

flibbertigibbet - a flighty, frivolous person; a gossip

foozle - an old fossil; fuddy-duddy

fop - a man of vain and foolish ostentation

fopdoodle - a silly and insignificant person

gnashnab - a chronic grumbler or nit-picker

gobermouch - a busybody

hobbledehoy - an awkward, gangly youth

huckster - someone who peddles their dubious products or services in a pushy, mendacious, an aggressive way

Jack-in-office - a petty, nit-picking official

hornswoggler- is a trickster; a crook

klazomaniac - one who can talk only by shouting

lickspittle - a fawning, sycophantic, obsequious type

lubberwort - a fuzzy-minded, lethargic individual

muckspout - someone who needs their mouth washed out with soap

mafflard - a bumbling, blundering fool

mammothrept - a spoilt, mollycoddled, immature young person who lacks good judgment or knowledge

mooncalf - a foolish, absentminded person

mumblecrust - someone toothless and rather mangy

mumpsimus - one who stubbornly makes mistakes while ignoring advice, instructions, or evidence that they are wrong

ninnyhammer - a simpleton; fool

nigard - stingy or ungenerous person

patzer - an inept chess player

pettifogger - an unscrupulous, underhanded, disreputable sort

pinchfart - a penny-pincher

poetaster - a poet whose skills leave a lot to be desired

poltroon - an utter coward

poppinjay - a conceited, superficial person

prickmedainty - a person who is preoccupied with their appearance

quisby - a layabout who shirks duties

raggabrash - a grubby and disorganised person

rakefire - a guest who outstays their welcome

rampallion - a scoundrel; rascal

rattlecap - an unsteady, volatile person

roiderbanks - one who lives extravagantly and beyond their means

saltimbanco - a snake oil salesperson, mountebank, or quack

sauce-box - a bold or forward person

scaramouch - a loud-mouthed coward

scobberlotcher - a layabout who avoids hard work at all costs

seek-sorrow - a self-tormentor or hypochondriac

shabbaroon - an ill-dressed shabby sort; a mean-spirited person

shot-clog - someone who always tags along, uninvited and unwanted

slug-a-bed - a sloth who cannot or will not get up in the morning

smell-feast - someone who has a gift for sniffing out a good dinner and pitching up uninvited; a freeloader

smellfungus - an inveterate complainer; one who delights in finding fault

sneaksby - a mean-spirited or sneaky sort

snollygoster - a person (often a politician) who is shrewd and entirely lacking in principles

snoutband - a know-it-all who constantly interupts to correct or contradict the speaker

spoony - foolish

stampcrab - a clumsy person (beware, crabs!)

stingbum - a stingy person

stumblebum - a clumsy, inept person

Stymphalist - a highly malodorous individual

tallowcatch - an extremely corpulent person

throttlebottom - an inocuously inept and ineffectual person who has somehow managed to achieve high office

tutilliver - a malicious liar; one who spins scandalous, damaging untruths

ultracrepidarian - someone quick to give unwanted opinions on subjects of which they have little or no knowledge

unlicked-cub - an uncouth, unmannerly young lout

whiffle-whaffle - a time waster

whoreson - an unpleasant, disagreeable person

word-grubbers - verbal critics or people who use hard words in common discourse

wrinkler - one prone to lying

zounderkite - a foolish person




Susan McKenna