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25 Great Insults From 18th-Century British Slang

Kirstin Fawcett
Adjwad Creative (speech bubble) // iStock via Getty Images Plus
Adjwad Creative (speech bubble) // iStock via Getty Images Plus / Adjwad Creative (speech bubble) // iStock via Getty Images Plus
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For history buffs and word nerds, “You jerk” just doesn't have the same ring as “You unlicked cub,” an insult from Georgian England. And there’s more where that came from if you browse through English lexicographer Francis Grose's A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, first published in 1785. The anthology is filled with slang words and terms of the kind dictionary scribe Samuel Johnson had previously deemed unfit for his influential A Dictionary of the English Language (1755). Below are some of the tome's most hilarious, vivid, and archaic insults, arranged in alphabetical order for your put-down pleasure. (And if you need more inspiration, here's some Victorian slang for good measure.)

1. Addle Pate

“An inconsiderate foolish fellow.”

2. Back Biter

“One who slanders another behind his back, i.e. in his absence.”

3. A Blowse, or Blowsabella

An unkempt woman: “A woman whose hair is dishevelled, and hanging about her face; a slattern.”

4. Blunderbuss

“A stupid, blundering fellow.”

5. Bob Tail

“A lewd woman, or one that plays with her tail; also an impotent man, or an eunich.”

6. Bull Calf

“A great hulkey or clumsy fellow.”

7. Corny-Faced

“A very red pimpled face.”

8. Death’s Head Upon a Mop-Stick

“A poor, miserable, emaciated fellow.”

9. Duke of Limbs

“A tall, awkward, ill-made fellow.”

10. Fussock

“A lazy fat woman … a frowzy old woman.”

11. Gollumpus

“A large, clumsy fellow.”

12. Gundiguts

“A fat, pursy fellow.”

13. Hang in Chains

“A vile, desperate fellow.”

14. Hell Born Babe

“A lewd graceless youth, one naturally of a wicked disposition.”

15. Jolterhead

“A large head; metaphorically a stupid fellow.”

16. Just-Ass

“A punning appellation for a justice,” or a punny name for a judge.

17. Lobcock

“A large relaxed penis, also a dull inanimate fellow.”

18. Puff Guts

“A fat man.”

19. Scrub

“A low mean fellow, employed in all sorts of dirty work.”

20. Shabbaroon

“An ill-dressed shabby fellow; also a mean-spirited person.”

21. Shag-Bag

“A poor sneaking fellow, a man of no spirit.”

22. Squire of Alsatia

“A weak profligate spendthrift.”

23. Tatterdemallion

“A ragged fellow, whose clothes hang all in tatters.”

24. Thingumbob

“A vulgar address or nomination to any person whose name is unknown ... Thingum-bobs, testicles.”

25. Unlicked Cub

“A rude uncouth young fellow.”

A version of this story ran in 2018; it has been updated for 2021.

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