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This Will Make Your Family Gathering Memorable: Handy Insulting Words You Need When Visiting Relatives

Are They Dirty?

We all know how important knowing the perfect word to use at just the right time can be, but do we know enough of the best words to insult someone with? Read on to learn a few more insult words to add to your burgeoning vocabulary.

The perfect insulting word must meet certain conditions. For greater impact, It must be short and guttural and sound nastier than it is. Words with a lot of consonants that sound bad are what we want. Luckily, English has them aplenty.

The perfect insulting word must not actually be a readily recognizable swear word or insult, and of course, it cannot be a hate word of any sort (do we really have to write that slurs are bad?).

The Best Insult is. . .

Perfect insulting words could actually just be the same old words in another language except that if they were then everyone would guess you were insulting them. They would also likely guess you were using the same old words, too, and fail to be suitably impressed or insulted, compounding your failure.

If that is the best you can do, then this article can’t help you. We are writing for the inveterate wordsmiths and the full-time insulting. Newbies, wannabes, and weekenders need read no farther.


Please do enjoy these words cautiously. Note that we cannot guarantee your social health or physical safety while you have these words in your mouth and assume no liability therefore. Words are powerful, and these words are powerfully offensive.

Don't Be a Rube

We have included pronunciation with these words because there is nothing more irritating than saying a good jabbing word incorrectly. Luckily, with the rarity of these words, most of your enemies wouldn’t know if you had. And that is just another good thing about these words.

Nudnik: noun | NOOD-nik (the "OO" is as in "good") is a person who is a bore or nuisance.

“My darling nudnik brother-in-law, how wonderful to see you again” is a good example of the sneak-it-in technique wherein the insult is tucked innocently between positive or neutral words.

Hoodlum: (noun) HOOD-lum is a thug; especially: a violent criminal.

“My old Granny warned us that there were hoodlums in every city park loitering around the shrubbery,” is an example of how misunderstood a person can be.

Ganef or ga·nof also gon·if: (noun) gä′nəf is a thief, scoundrel, or rascal.

“Not everyone in my family is a ganef” is an example of a left-handed compliment, another handy passive-aggressive argumentative aid.

Hellion: (noun) hĕl′yən is a mischievous, troublesome, or unruly person, cousin to the aforementioned hoodlum.

“In the city park near the shrubbery, you may find hellions, but as a rule hellions lack the commitment required of full-time hoodlums” is an example of how little logic or evidence is necessary in the creation of stereotypes, the go-to strawmen of the small-minded.

Froward: (adjective) frō′wərd, -ərd stubbornly contrary and disobedient; obstinate.

"My brother-in-law is a real froward-thinking man," should be spoken with as much feigned affection as you can muster and you should only say it after several beers have dulled his hearing so that he hears, "forward-thinking" instead of what you said. Southern readers please note that in some families "forward-thinking" may be an insult.

Tetchy: (adjective) TETCH-ee irritably or peevishly sensitive: touchy. The handy thing about this word is that right after you call someone that, s/he turns tetchy.

"He is a tetchy old thing, isn't he?" is a good starter sentence.

Tatterdemalion: (adjective) tatt-er-dih-MAIL-yun means ragged or disreputable in appearance.

"My brother-in-law is tatterdemalion, and not amount of new clothes can disguise it." Again, make sure you have the car keys before you say this unless the 30-beer barrier has been breached, in which case, just say anything you want.

Grimalkin: (noun) grih-MAWL-kin is a domestic cat; especially: an old female cat, and sure, it isn’t strictly speaking an insult, but wouldn’t it make a great one? Grimalkin has the guttural sound of a mean word yet could mean any number of things when applied to a person.

"If she hadn't been such a grimalkin, we wouldn't have called her catty."

Snaffle: (verb) SNAFF-ul is to obtain especially by devious or irregular means. We think you know where to use this word for its greatest impact.

"Since he didn't have any money, I think my brother-in-law snaffled that beer."

Pasquinade: (noun) păs′kwə-nād′ is a satire or lampoon, especially one that ridicules a specific person, traditionally written and posted in a public place.

"I don't know who wrote that pasquinade about Grandma on the park bench, but it sure was funny."

Widdershins: (adverb) WID-er-shinz means doing or going in a left-handed, wrong, or contrary direction. We suggest you call somebody a Widdershins when you get ready to leave your family gathering.

"Hey, you widdershins grimalkin, come over here and give me a hug!"

Plagiary: (noun) PLAY-jee-air-ee is one that plagiarizes .

"My brother-in-law never makes up lies because he is a plagiary at heart," use this to appear to be defending your brother-in-law. Calling someone lacking in originality is the greatest insult while saying he steals is the second, so you are covering the top two.

Acerbic: (adjective) uh-SER-bik means being acid in temper, mood, or tone.

"Being acerbic is useful if you are vinegar, but you are a person."

Cloying: (adjective) KLOY-ing is disgusting or distasteful by reason of excess; also: excessively sweet or sentimental.

"When he isn't acerbic, my brother-in-law swings to the other extreme and becomes cloying, but it doesn't get better until he reaches the 30-beer barrier."

Original Nudnik

Illustration of my bother-in-law the nudnik.

Illustration of my bother-in-law the nudnik.

Be Mindful

At your chosen gathering, be sure you don’t forget these easy, innovative insult techniques. Reversing the meaning of a complimentary word at the last minute, as in “My brother-in-law is not superlative.” Conversational backhands like, “This gravy is so delicious, nothing like the gravy my brother-in-law usually makes,” are useful because they can be modified to fit the occasion. Double entendres, or words with dual meanings, are useful when you need to stall for time because they make some people pause for thought to figure out if they have been insulted or not. You may make a literal double entendre such as "That was the lease I could have done," or you can form the dual meaning with a sarcastic tone. We have already discussed the car keys.

Quiz, You Gotta Know There Would Be One

Who resists a quiz? Nobody we like! Take the quiz to learn a few more insults. If you get very many wrong, we intend to use some of these words to describe your score, so pay attention and do your best.

Choose the Best Answer

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. tatterdemalion
    • A pattern of embroidery around the edge of a hat
    • A person wearing ragged and dirty clothing; a ragamuffin
  2. acerbic
    • Bitter like lemons
    • Sweet like honey
  3. hoodlum
    • Grandma's bushes abiders
    • A full hoodie
  4. grimalkin
    • An old cat
    • Grandma's maiden name
  5. moue
    • I'm not answering this because it wasn't in the list
    • I'm not answering this because I don't know
    • A snotty facial expression
    • An icon of the 21st century
  6. yips
    • A disease found mostly in golfers
    • Sounds made by excited dogs
    • Withdrawal jitters
  7. pasquinade
    • A broad walkway along water
    • A public lampoon or satire
    • A type of Roman pornography

Answer Key

  1. A pattern of embroidery around the edge of a hat
  2. Bitter like lemons
  3. Grandma's bushes abiders
  4. An old cat
  5. A snotty facial expression
  6. A disease found mostly in golfers
  7. A public lampoon or satire

Interpreting Your Score

If you got between 0 and 2 correct answers: Try again after you learn to read.

If you got between 3 and 4 correct answers: You simply don't care enough about words or insulting your relatives.

If you got 5 correct answers: You almost care enough about insulting words, but we know you can do better!

If you got 6 correct answers: We say to you that if you can't say anything good about people, come sit over here with us!

If you got 7 correct answers: Not only can you sit with us at the next family gathering, we want to hear your favorite insult words because we think we could learn from you! You are truly in possession of a scary vocabulary!

Of course, we mean the other kind of snotty.

Of course, we mean the other kind of snotty.

How Snotty is Snotty?

What is Your Personal Snotty Quotient, or SnottyQ?

Stay Calm and Carry On

Hey you old tatterdemalion widdershins, don't make a moue or get the yips, join us next time when we will teach you new ways to use context to convert innocuous words into barbed conversational zingers!


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