Do you know your strumpets from your ninnycocks?
Modern day swearing has a well defined lexicon, ranging from the ‘bloody’ to the ***** But the English language has a rich and varied tradition of swearing which dates back to the early Medieval times, when English as we know it today was first spoken.
Some of those historic insults have stood the test of time (fuck, shit, turd and bollocks have a pedigree dating back to the Dark Ages). And they can be the perfect mix of descriptive and offensive, so why have lines like ‘bald-arsed gouty-legged polecat’ fallen out of use? Bring them back, I say.
British swear words which have fallen out of use (we applaud whoever funded this important work). A book was published on the findings, after poring over 40,000 documents from the 1500s and 1600s. People were keen on scatological humour, favouring phases likes ‘I don’t care a fart for you’ and the evocative ‘Bring the mayor to me and I will fart in his mouth.
Here are some of the others…
Many of the documents used to make the list were related to slander cases, in which people would complain that they had been verbally insulted. ‘Reputation had such a big impact on your life and you could lose your job or your home. ‘If a woman had a bad reputation, she could lose her husband. I’ve seen references to men leaving their wives because of gossip, or to women who couldn’t get married because things had been said about them.’ Common themes included illicit sex, low intelligence, dishonesty, witchcraft and disease.
- Hollow mouthed (without teeth)
- Bald-arsed Long-nosed Gouty-legged Copper-nosed (syphilis was treated with copper)
- Polecat (a lewd woman) Cucumber (a cuckold – aka a man whose wife was unfaithful)
- Ditch whore, Rogue (a dishonest man) Broom close whore, Furse whore, Hedge whore, (These variations on whore relate to where the women allegedly prostituted themselves)
Women were most often called names when they were suspected of having illicit sex, the most common insult being ‘whore’. Men, on the other hand, were more likely to be targeted for dishonesty and lack of intelligence. Two of the most common insults were ‘rogue’, meaning a disreputable man, and ‘knave’. For example: ‘Thou art a Knave and an Arrant Knave for thou hast attempted my chastity and thou wouldst have had the carnal knowledge of my body’. you wittols.
Don’t Judge a person for drinking and swearing judge the quiet sober one those fuckers are up to something
Kristina J I never used to swear until I started to drive xx