Archive for the ‘Insults’ Category

The taunt

August 8, 2017

Today’s One Big Happy has James reciting a piece of American childlore, the taunt “X is a friend of mine” (where X is a name, preferably a trochaic one, like Ruthie, to fit the trochaic tetrameter pattern of the verse):


A cornucopia of pop culture references.


Macho Muffler Man vs. the elite geek

June 2, 2017

Today’s Zippy pits Griffy against a familiar figure in the strip, a Muffler Man roadside fiberglass figure — in this case a lumberjack figure, selling tires rather than mufflers, but still part of an automotive theme:

Not just selling tires, but presenting himself as hypermasculinely disdainful of analytic academics.


hockey puck

April 11, 2017

From the Bloomberg site on 4/6/17, a death notice: “Don Rickles, Comedian Who Turned Insults Into Art, Dies at 90”, by Laurence Arnold, which notes:

“The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang credits Rickles, circa 1963, with repurposing ‘hockey puck’ to mean ‘a stupid or useless person.’”

There’s some question about when Rickles first used the insult to address someone, but no one seems to have asked

🏒Why hockey puck?🏒


More British slurs

July 17, 2016

A follow-up to yesterday’s posting on “oiks, yobs, and prats”, about British social slurs, especially in the tv series Midsomer Murders: Facebook comments from John Wells (on the slurs in my posting, plus chav) and Don Steiny (on the status of cunt in British (also Australian) English).


Two Z language cartoons

March 1, 2016

A Zits and a Zippy playing with language:





August 11, 2014

Unfolding in Iraq, a fierce campaign by the Sunni Muslim organization ISIS against “infidels”, in particular, Shia Muslims, Christians, and Yazidis. (I’m skipping here what ISIS stands for, and whether some other label entirely should be used for the organization.) Jews would of course be on the list, but there aren’t many left in Iraq; ISIS proposes to get to the Jews by attacking Israel, but only after they eliminate Iraqi infidels first — by the classic tactic of requiring them to convert or be killed. (The Convert or Die tactic is familiar in the West from the long history of Roman Catholic impositions on other groups, especially the Ottoman Turks, but also Jews and (what the Church saw as) heretical Christian sects.)

Obviously, what counts as an infidel depends on your point of view, as will become clear from a run through the OED2 entry. But first, some notes on the etymology.



October 10, 2013

From David Nash on Google+, this ad (from Australia, I assume):

(meaning, ‘in the native language of the country where the games will be held, namely Brazil’ — that is, in Brazilian Portuguese).

The verb sledge was new to me, though David quickly explained it to me.


Breaking up is hard to do

August 25, 2013

Yesterday’s Pearls Before Swine:

Rat is characteristically insulting; never hire Rat for a delicate task.

Then there’s the agentive noun breaker upper (or breaker-upper), with double marking: -er on both the verb, break, and the particle, up.


The Weinerfest rolls on

August 3, 2013

In the latest New Yorker, a Paul Noth cartoon alluding to Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin:


Then came a string of misogynist profanity from Weiner’s aide Barbara Morgan.

The Noth cartoon will lead us to the actual Weiner-Humedin nuptials, then via Noth to Where’s Waldo?, cheating spouse cartoons, and accent prejudice. Then: Morgan’s outburst included the unusual insult slutbag, and that’s attracted interest from linguabloggers.


Saturday funnies

August 3, 2013

Three cartoons for today: a Pearls Before Swine on insults; a Mother Goose and Grimm meta-cartoon; and a One Big Happy on tongue twisters;




In #3, Ruthie attends to the sense of the tongue-twister, treating it as it it set forth a claim about the real world.