Whether we like it or not, English insults are part of the language and of peoples’ personal and professional lives. In fact, data from recorded conversations shows us that between 80-90 words a person says per day (0.5% – 0.7% of all words used) are swear words. Our intention in this post is not to encourage you to swear in English, but simply to become familiar with some abusive words that native speakers commonly use and that you will come across in movies, TV shows, radio, and literature.
Some background history on English insults
The use of swear words in spoken English dates back to medieval times. The oldest curse word in English is ‘shit’ and has roots in German and Scandinavian, while the word ‘fuck’ was first used in the 13th century even though it wasn’t meant as an insult.
Academic research has revealed that swearing is a form of anger management and that it can also relieve the effect of physical pain. In this connection, the research team from Keele University advises people to swear in moderation if they hurt themselves. In another study from tweets posted on Twitter, it was found that swear words are linked to negative emotions like anger (16.79%) and sadness (21.83%).
The 10 best and strongest English insults
This would normally be directed to a male who is mean, despicable or vicious person. It can also refer to any particularly difficult or frustrating situation.
In the jazz community it is used as a compliment.
// I’m not lending any more money to that guy. The motherfucker still owes me 200 euros
// The exam was a real motherfucker
2. Piece of shit
If you did call someone a piece of shit, you would be basically saying that they are a detestable person, undeserving of any respect.
// After what he said about black people, I can only say that he’s a racist piece of shit
You could also call an object is a piece of shit because it is completely useless:
//This car is a piece of shit because it always breaks down.
3. Wanker (chiefly British. US = Jerk)
This word would normally be directed at a male, and derives from the verb ‘wank’ (masturbate).
As an insult it refers to someone who is annoying and stupid, particularly if they are posing or showing off.
// The security guard is a real wanker
//You’re an arrogant wanker, so go to hell
4. Fucking idiot
If you call someone an idiot, you are saying that they are stupid or foolish. The insult becomes stronger in tone by adding ‘fucking’ as an intensifier.
// Only an absolute idiot would drive like that.
// The fucking idiot didn’t walked straight into me while looking at this mobile phone.
A dork is also used to say that someone is stupid, particularly in the sense of not having very good social skills.
// You are such a dork!
// He looked like a real dork with those glasses on
This is one of the strongest and most offensive words in English. Cunt is the vulgar term for woman’s genitalia, but as an insult it is meant for a stupid and unpleasant person.
The original meaning of bastard is an illegitimate child.
As an insult, this word is mildly offensive, and means that someone is a bad or contemptible person.
Amongst friends, bastard can be used affectionately.
// You lucky bastard!
Fuckface is one of those terms that is used when you can’t think of any other insult to direct at someone. It is an extremely offensive word for a stupid or annoying person.
// Leave me alone, fuckface
However, you might hear friends calling each other fuckface as a term of endearment:
// Hey, fuckface, are you coming out for a drink tonight?
Back in 1939 this word was a term for ‘condom’ from scum + bag.
In 1971, it started being used to insult someone who has done something dishonest or unpleasant.
// This scumbag deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison
// They’re scumbag investors who didn’t have the money they said they had
10. (Fucking) Bitch
The original meaning of bitch as a noun is a female dog.
If you call a woman a bitch, it means she is unkind or unpleasant. If you add ‘fucking’ as an intensifier (fucking + bitch), the insult become more venomous in tone.
// She only thinks about herself. What a fucking bitch!
Bitch is being increasingly used as an affectionate slang term to use with friends, both male and female:
// Hey bitches, how are you doing!
Feel free to share with your friends. However, unlike new vocabulary from other posts which you should use to sound more natural in English, you are not advised to use the insults we have seen today!