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21 Old-Fashioned Insults To Add To Your Burn Book

You embossed carbuncle!

by Sarah Bunton

If you have children, or maybe you're just in polite company, sometimes you have to get creative with your words. My partner and I learned quickly that little kids pick up and repeat everything — and I mean everything — they hear, and often say it at the most inopportune time, too. That's why there are so many hilarious old-fashioned insults to bring back because censoring yourself with the same G-rated lines can be boring. Besides being safe for little ears, plenty of the one liners and zingers my grandmother would lob at my grandfather were downright clever. They just don't make insults anymore like they used to, am I right?

Rather than checking out dusty books from the library in the hopes of stumbling across a particularly biting gem, there's a world full of information waiting at your fingertips. Though some of the things your grandparents say might be a bit out of touch with what's considered appropriate or politically correct nowadays, I'd bet you'd be surprised if you asked them what some of their favorite insults are. So if you're looking to bring back some old-fashioned snappy comebacks, then look no further than these burns from a bygone era.


Dilberry Maker

A bit crude, for sure, but this insult will definitely make its point. According to The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by Francis Grose, a dilberry maker is code for a person's rectum. So calling someone a dilberry maker is a classier way of saying, "you're a poop chute."

The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, $8, Amazon


Vice Admiral Of The Narrow Seas

In my opinion, a good insult is one that is equal parts clever and absurd. That's why dissing someone as a, "Vice Admiral of the Narrow Seas," needs to be brought back. As the site for Jonathon Green's eponymous Green's Dictionary of Slang noted, it means, "a drunken man that pisses under the table into his companions’ shoes." Friend can't hold their liquor? Then they might as well be the Vice Admiral of the Narrow Seas.





This one is a thinker. Since bovines are cloven-hoofed, they obviously don't have hands. So referring to someone as, "cow-handed," means they're as awkward as a cow trying to grasp something, according to Green's Dictionary.



Some of the best zingers are the ones which don't make any logical sense. So the next time you want to just spout off, you can use, "lubberwort," a person who has eaten a mythical vegetable that makes people dim-witted, as noted.


An Embossed Carbuncle

You just knew that William Shakespeare would have to make an appearance when talking about old-fashioned insults. Taken from Shakespeare's King Lear, the full quote is, "thou art a boil, a plague-sore, an embossed carbuncle, in my corrupted blood." Sick burn, bro. In case you're curious, defines a carbuncle as, "a painful circumscribed inflammation of the subcutaneous tissue." You have to love those medieval medical conditions.

King Lear, $5, Amazon


Gey Droen Di Gandz

For anyone with Jewish relatives, you may already know this classic Yiddish insult. If you want to tell someone off, you can say, "gey droen di gandz," which translates to, "go threaten the goose," according to Basically, you're telling someone they're better off trying to intimidate a goose than to try and come at you.



No, I'm not talking about a fantasy land for Sherlock Holmes fans. To say, "you're a cumberworld," means they're useless and a cumbersome interruption in the world, according to the official site for Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.


Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon!

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Taken from Shakespeare's Timon of Athens, "would thou wert clean enough to spit upon," implies someone is so dirty even spit wouldn't make a difference. Gross.

Timon of Athens, $7, Amazon



This is actually pretty self-explanatory. As Green's Dictionary noted, a grumbletonian is a person who grumbles or complains, especially when it comes to political topics.



According to Merriam-Webster, an ultracrepidarian is, "one who is presumptuous and offers advice or opinions beyond one’s sphere of knowledge." Basically, a know-it-all who actually knows nothing.


Duke Of Limbs

This might be my new favorite. According to Green's Dictionary, the Duke of Limbs is a person who is awkward, particularly when it comes to being physically clumsy.



There's no real history behind this one, but a nigmenog is a very silly person, according to The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. The next time you think someone is being ridiculous, you might want to try this equally hilarious insult.



Do you know someone who thinks they're God's gift to the world? As Merriam-Webster noted, a prickmedainty is a person who is preoccupied with their appearance and often considered foolish for doing so.


Moyshe Kapoyer

Another one from, someone who can't get their stuff together is a moyshe kapoyer. What a mess.


Thou dost infect my eyes!

From Shakespeare's King Richard III, the full insult is, "out of my sight! Thou dost infect my eyes." How much must someone offend you that their mere presence would hurt your eyes?

Richard III, $5, Amazon


Out at the elbows!

According to The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, you can really burn someone by pointing out they're in dire circumstances or, "out at the elbows." No clue what elbows have to do with it, though.



The next time someone is talking nonsense, you can say, "that's flibbertigibbet," and really burst their bubble, as Merriam-Webster noted.



Simply put, to call someone, "fopdoodle," is to say they're a fool, according to Green's Dictionary.



The term "cupboard-lover" is a sly way to call someone fake, as Merriam-Webster noted. Apparently, the saying comes from a person being nice to you with the sole intent of gaining access to the food in your pantry.



To be rumbumptious is to be offensive, unruly, and stuck-up, according to The 1811 Dictionary of Vulgar Tongue. The next time someone is being particularly annoying, you can hurl this nifty insult their way.

Try one of these old-fashioned insults next time you really need a good zinger.