For history buffs with a personal score to settle, "You jerk" just doesn't have the same ring as "You unlicked cub," an insult from Georgian England. And there's more where that came from if you browse through English lexicographer Francis Grose's A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, first published in 1785 and recently spotted by the Public Domain Review. The anthology is filled with slang words and terms of the kind dictionary scribe Samuel Johnson had previously deemed unfit for his influential A Dictionary of the English Language (1755). Below are some of the tome's most hilarious, vivid, and archaic insults, arranged in alphabetical order for your put-down pleasure. (And if you need more inspiration, here's some Victorian slang for good measure.)
1. ADDLE PATE
"An inconsiderate foolish fellow."
2. BEARD SPLITTER
“A man much given to wenching,” or consorting with prostitutes.
3. A BLOWSE, OR BLOWSABELLA
An unkempt woman. "A woman whose hair is dishevelled, and hanging about her face; a slattern."
“A stupid, blundering fellow.”
5. BOB TAIL
“A lewd woman, or one that plays with her tail; also an impotent man, or an eunich.”
6. BULL CALF
"A great hulkey or clumsy fellow."
"A very red pimpled face."
8. DEATH'S HEAD UPON A MOP-STICK
“A poor, miserable, emaciated fellow."
9. DUKE OF LIMBS
“A tall, awkward, ill-made fellow.”
"A lazy fat woman … a frowzy old woman."
"A large, clumsy fellow."
"A fat, pursy fellow."
13. HANG IN CHAINS
"A vile, desperate fellow.”
14. HEDGE WHORE
An itinerant prostitute, "who bilks the bagnios and bawdy houses, by disposing of her favours on the way side, under a hedge; a low beggarly prostitute.”
"An ape; a pert, ugly, little fellow."
"A punning appellation for a justice," or a punny name for a judge.
“A large relaxed penis, also a dull inanimate fellow.”
18. PUFF GUTS
"A fat man."
"A low mean fellow, employed in all sorts of dirty work."
"An ill-dressed shabby fellow; also a mean-spirited person."
"A poor sneaking fellow, a man of no spirit."
22. SQUIRE OF ALSATIA
"A weak profligate spendthrift."
“A ragged fellow, whose clothes hang all in tatters.”
"A vulgar address or nomination to any person whose name is unknown ... Thingum-bobs, testicles."
25. UNLICKED CUB
“A rude uncouth young fellow.”