Why bother telling someone they’re a dummy when you can just call them a "daft git"? Here are 20 of the best British insults.
Replace “idiot” with “pillock” and “moron” with “plonker”, for colourful invectives that entertain as they wound.
Warning... Obviously, some of these insults may be deemed offensive.
Here are just a few of our favorites, you nutters!
“Get out of the way, you muppet!” As you could guess, this one is Jim Henson-inspired. His lovable puppets evoke the idea of an air-headed and feckless person without a clue who needs a directing hand to guide them.
One of the many misogynistic insults for ladies. (Sadly, there are many of these.) A sexually immoral woman, similar to slut or tramp.
A woman deemed sexually promiscuous. Similar to trollop but with the added twist of socio-economic class: the term connotes a debasement of social standing.
Some claim it’s a shortening of the word “beget” and therefore declares its target to be of illegitimate birth, i.e., a bastard.
However, now considered fairly mild, possibly on the same level as the word “jerk” in America. Not something to be shouted at a fancy dinner party but nothing you wouldn’t say harmlessly amongst friends. Used with the right tone, it can actually sound somewhat endearing. “He’s an annoying sod, but I love that silly git!”
There are many meanings for this one: someone fat, someone who borrows money, someone generally untrustworthy. However, our preferred usage is as a synonym for braggart: all talk and no action. “He acts tough but don’t worry, he’s a real chuffer.”
Someone obnoxious. Tosser can also be used as a synonym for wanker, i.e., meaning someone who often - too often - enjoys self-pleasure.
Another British word for idiot, though it can have softer connotations as “git” does. Can also be used with “off” to make a general go away/shut up/get lost directive.
Sexually promiscuous person. Unlike “trollope” and “scrubber,” this slur is now used by modern-day Brits for both sexes, though it is still used more directed at women.
Adjective. Not on the up and up. Something suspect, faulty or dishonest. “I wouldn’t be doing any business with that bloke, mate. He’s a bit dodgy.”
Exceptionally unattractive person. It can also be applied to anything repulsive or disgusting. “That’s right minging!”
Another synonym for idiot. Derived from a Norwegian slang word for penis, this one seems to work particularly well when someone has made a specific error in judgment.
Another general synonym for idiot. From the West country, some say this refers to the foreskin of a donkey. Others, however, say it originated in the North, but that might be because one of the brothers from Oasis once used against the other at a concert. These things happen.
Adjective. Though it actually means something or someone infected with the pox, it can be used for anything shabby, cheap, defective or inferior. “He’s a poxy excuse for a man!”
A lot of uses here! Applied to a person, it’s a general slur implying contempt. It can be used as an exclamation to express anger and frustration similar to “dammit!” It’s also a verb: a synonym for sodomizing.
Adjective.From the noun gaum, which means “attention.” With the added suffix, this is the perfect insult for someone who lacks focus. Someone stupid, slow, without understanding.
The word “prat” just flies off the tongue. Harsh, efficient, monosyllabic, it’s the perfect jab at anyone. Perhaps that’s why Brits use it so often. Fairly mild insult. It can be used with a loved one within the right context.
Someone who messes things up. A ruiner. Someone whose behavior causes disruption, inconvenience or pain.
Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey
Just for the French! This should only be used to insult a Frenchman! It was actually coined by an American writer for The Simpsons, but it really caught on with the Francophobic Brits.
A freeloader. A person who attends functions for free food and drinks. Someone who never picks up a check or pays for their share. Can also be a verb. “She’s ligging for the free booze!”
Be careful with this one! This pejorative can lead to punches. A slur for a certain economic class of youth culture, some claim it is an acronym for “council housed and violent.” It’s not, but that tells you everything you need to know.
* Originally published in April 2017.