I’ve been researching rude words from the 1800s in England, and it occurred to me that an insulter could use these words with a smile, and the insultee might never know what the words actually meant.
For instance, unless the insulter’s facial expression gave it away, I would probably thank a person who referred to me as a blooming berk (a darned idiot), thinking it had something to do with flowers. It would be better to reply, “Cobblers!” (rubbish or nonsense) to such a statement.
I now know to be highly insulted if I am ever called a “gormless munter” (stupid, very ugly woman).
Would you rather be a plonker, a duffer, a prat, a wally, a pillock, a numpty, a wazzack, or a muppet? It doesn’t really matter. All of them mean “idiot.” I may use those. “You’re such a wally!” said with a laugh could be fun.
The number of sexual words which were (and are) used in an insulting context is shocking, and here on JSI, we earnestly seek to avoid upsetting our gentle readers. Therefore, I will refrain from posting any of them (or a link).
True story. In the early years of our marriage, my husband and I met an evangelist from England. I was holding our first born. She was not quite a year old at the time. I kissed her and called her a cute little bugger. He nearly spewed his tea. “Don’t ever say that!” he thundered. I was bum-fuzzled. What had I said? I asked him, and after hemming and hawing, he whispered, “That’s the worst sort of a child molester.” I didn’t know child molesters were graded on a sliding scale, but I took his word for it. I’ve now added “bugger” to my list of “words we don’t say.” Did I just say that?