11 Early 20th Century Insults We Should Bring Back

istock collage
istock collage / istock collage

There’s nothing in the world quite like hurling a good insult, but let’s face it: Modern-day zingers are super boring. The good news is, we have years of linguistic history to draw from! Here are a few century-old disparaging remarks to add to your vocabulary toolkit labeled “SLANDEROUS.”

1. Munz-watcher 

A petty criminal or extortionist. It’s suggested that one might sneak up on you and your honey during a late night stroll and threaten to blow the whistle on any scandalous acts. In the 21st century, this bit of slang could extend to Internet privacy invaders.

2. Chatter-mag 

A chatterbox, or overly talkative person, often a woman. Can also be used as a verb meaning “to chatter.”

3. Gongoozler

A version of what we might call a “creeper” today—someone who is prone to staring or gaping idly for prolonged periods of time.

4. Bearcat 

This 1920s slang refers to a hot-blooded or fiery woman. One in a long line of feline vocabulary words used to describe the female gender, this one is a cut above because bearcats are generally underappreciated.

5. Slackumtrance 

This one is specific to the Isle of Wight and refers to a messy or dirty woman. Gender-specific insults seem to have run amok back in the day; still, this one is particularly satisfying to deliver.

6. Spatherdab or Splatheradab 

A chatterer, gossip, or scandal-monger. I’d claim the domain name now if you’re looking to start the next big celebrity gossip site.

7. Zounderkite 

We all know a zounderkite—a clumsy oaf—and frankly, this isn’t an insult that necessarily feels good to deliver. Sometimes though, a zounderkite’s foolish behavior results in awkward situations, and when that happens, you gotta tell it like it is.

8. Fustilugs 

It’s hard to believe this turn-of-the-century term never caught on. It’s the perfect sounding word to describe an ill-natured looking person. But I guess now we have “resting b***h face” instead.

9. Popinjay 

This word can be traced back to birds, which makes some sense as it’s synonymous with what we call “peacocking” today. A popinjay is someone who dresses or behaves in an extravagant manner, or exhibits vain or conceited behavior.

10. Scurf 

A mean or “scurvy” man, or—in a target we can all agree on—an employer who pays less than the standard wage.

11. Dotties man 

A greedy or selfish person. While noble in its intent, it’s easy to see why this one didn’t have much staying power: “You know what? You’re a real dotties man!” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Maybe we can workshop this one when we bring it back.

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