Why Old English Insults Were Better
Let's face it, modern English insults are boring. Our language lost the imaginative flair that made Old World insults so deliciously insulting a long time ago! Think about it — isn't calling someone an "elvish-mark'd, abortive, rooting hog" so much more satisfying than calling said person a pig? (Disclaimer: I actually love pigs. No hard feelings.)
Old English insults are delightfully descriptive word concoctions that conjure up all kinds of bizarre pictures in the mind. Shakespeare was a master at the art of the insult and Old British dialects are full of them as well. Here's a look at some of best old English insults from written records and, of course, the Bard.
You Crooked-Nosed Knave You
A much better insult than "ridiculous" and "low-class," isn't it? This insult was immortalized when it became the subject of a defamation lawsuit in 1555. A man named Warneford had the audacity to call John Bridges a "crooked-nosed knave" in public. Appalled at the blow to his character, Bridges took the only legal avenue available — he sued. Sadly, the ruling was not recorded. We'll never know if John Bridges' nose was really as crooked as Warneford claimed.
You're Not a Slave, But You Are a Churl!
It turns out you didn't have to be a slave to fall victim to upper class disdain in jolly Old England. You could be a "churl" instead. Churl derives from the word "ceorl" which literally means an individual whose standing is a tiny step above a slave. So a little better than a slave, but not much.
The Bard was a master. He wrote brilliant plays and sonnets and his work is revered the world over. He was also an expert at the insult game. Here are some of his best:
Not enough for you? Check "Henry IV" for plenty more thoroughly Shakespearean insults I don't have room for here.
Old British Words We Need Right Now
OK, many of these aren't insults per se, but they're worth a look anyway. I'm thinking of bringing some of them back to the discussion table, so to speak.
Do you have any favorites from the list or know of others not here? Let me know in the comments below.
I feel a bit floby-mobly so I think I'll go feed my climb-tacks and fulfill my clinomania. Until the morrow!
The Vintage News