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11 Classy Insults With Classical Greek and Latin Roots

Arika Okrent
These insults don't hold anything back.
These insults don't hold anything back. / Ajwad Creative (Speech Bubble), SeventyFour (garbage bag) // iStock via Getty Images Plus
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Do you ever go on such an epic internet rant you just feel you’ve run out of words with which to hammer your enemies? Do you want to up your game without resorting to the tired tropes of excretion and sexual metaphors? Next time, pull out these fancy insults and class up the joint while you twist the dagger.

1. Pediculous

Lice-infested. From Latin pediculus (louse).

2. Xanthodontous

Yellow-toothed. From Greek xanthos (yellow) and odont- (a combining form for tooth).

3. Ructabunde

Gasbag. From Latin ructus (belch) and abundus (abundant).

4. Flagitious

Thoroughly wicked, villainous. From Latin flagitium (shameful act).

5. Quisquilian

Worthless, consisting of trash. From Latin quisquiliae (waste matter, rubbish).

6. Fissilingual

Fork-tongued. From Latin fissus (split) and lingua (tongue).

7. Quidnunc

Busybody, gossip-monger. From Latin quid nunc? (what now?).

8. Excerebrose

Brainless. From Latin ex (out, without) and cerebrum (brain).

9. Furfuraceous

Flaky, dandruff-covered. From Latin furfur (bran, chaff).

10. Exophthalmic

Bug-eyed. From Greek ex (out) and ophthalmos (eye).

11. Morosoph

A learned fool. From Greek moros (stupid) and sophos (wise).

A version of this story ran in 2014; it has been updated for 2021.

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