Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Insulting Words for Wordy Wednesday

The Chronicle of Higher Education hosts a blog called "Lingua Franca," dedicated to language and written by a number of professional linguists. As a lover of words, and one who is fascinated by how language works, I read it often.

Lingua Franca's February 4 post by Ben Yagoda, a professor at the University of Delaware, begins with a fairly lengthy analysis of the limited language skills of the current US President compared to previous holders of that office.

Then we get to the good wordy stuff: Yagoda continues with a delightfully colorful discussion of the many and varied words with which the President has been insulted (along with a few other politicians). The post, "Passels of Popinjays," is named in reference to British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson's tweet, "We will not allow US-UK relations to be endangered by some puffed up pompous popinjay in City Hall."

Of course there's also reference to this famous old tweet:

More and more wonderful insulting words follow, for example, the epithet snollygoster"a word originating in the 19th-century American South and meaning 'a shrewd and unprincipled person, and especially an unprincipled politician.'" I was surprised that Yagoda didn't mention dotard, which was used by North Korea's president, Kim Jong Un last fall, but I guess it's too ordinary a word for this context.

Keep reading, and you'll be treated with this wondrous collection from various sources:
  • wazzock
  • varlet
  • poltroon
  • quisling
  • fopdoodle
  • throttlebottom
  • scalliwag
  • lickspittle
  • blackguard
  • mountebank dabbling in laudanum
  • ultramaroon
  • gulla-bull
  • nin-cow-poop
If you want to know more about these words, check the original article or look in the dictionary! Especially note the last three which Yagoda identifies as "from a 1938 Bugs Bunny cartoon."

Word lovers will also be interested in 1000 "new words" added by the Oxford English Dictionary, as summarized in this article in the L.A. Times: "Oxford English Dictionary adds new words for mansplainers and snowflakes alike" That's a lot of words for my Wordy Wednesday -- tomorrow, back to food blogging.


Kitchen Riffs said...

I LOVE this Wednesday feature! Words are wonderful, and you do them justice. Thanks.

Unknown said...

As a word 'yagoda' means 'berry' in Russian. In case anyone ever needs foreign fruits and nuts.

Not arguing, just pointing out another word.

bermudaonion said...

What a fun post! I knew a few of those words and am sure I can use most of them.

Julia Tomiak said...

Nice to meet you Mae! I love the fun word info you have shared here. On my blog I covered another term to describe our current president: bloviating megalomaniac. That’s (appropriately) a mouthful! ;)

Margot said...

I love this post. I was surprised by how many of these words I knew. In the last three you mentioned, nim-cow-poop caught my eye. When I was a kid we used nim-com-poop all the time - well, except when Mom was around. She thought it was a very bad swear word and we were in trouble if she caught us. Thanks for the fun post.