In human history, the ability to offend another person through words is probably as old as language itself. And speaking of insults, the medieval era distinguishes itself above all else with producing the most colorful and offensive quips ever uttered. And we’d love to see these 11 medieval insults reinstated today.
A lot of people might not know this, but language during medieval times was far from the polite and romantic vision we imagine it to have been. With education limited to a few monks, the common tavern dweller uttered the most abusive, politically incorrect tirade, offensive enough to send the political correctness police into fits.
So, the next time you’re about to have a verbal spar with your friends, go medieval on them with these insults from another time in history.
Insults referring to social class
We all know from our history lesson that the medieval society is divided into the aristocracy, the middle class tradesmen, and peasantry all keen in using the lower social rank to insult the other.
#1 Churl/Churlish. This word originated from the old English word “ceorl” which is a derogatory term to describe the lowest social class. Using this word to an aristocrat or a tradesman is highly offensive and often resulted in duels or stabbings.
Sample sentence: “You may wear those fancy clothes, but you’re nothing but a churl.”
#2 Hedge-born. Similar to Game of Thrones’ use of “high-born” or “low-born,” hedge-born simply refers to a person of low social class, specifically a peasant or serf. Noticeably, people from the middle ages place a big deal on social class and associating one from the upper class to the lower is a good way to raise pulses.
Sample sentence: “Make yourself scarce, I can’t be breathing the same air as a hedge-born.”
#3 Crooked-nosed knave. This is a compound insult that attacks both appearance and social class. The word knave is from an Old Norse word used to describe a lowly servant boy. The medieval use of the word however implies a deceitful and untrustworthy person that possesses no class or good manners.
Sample sentence: “Here, take my wallet you crooked-nosed knave! I have more where it came from!”
#4 Base football player. This insult refers to a person who’s poor, dirty, and unruly. The term references the violent origin of football amongst the masses which the upper classes scorned and disapproved.
Sample sentence: “This table is for proper people, not base football players like you!”
Insults to intelligence
These are the middle age’s multiple-worded and more creative take on the word “idiot.”
#5 Fopdoodle. A stupid or insignificant fellow; a fool; a simpleton.
#6 Fat-kidneyed. Another medieval word for stupid. It comes from a belief that dumb people have the aforementioned anatomical distinction.
#7 Loggerhead. A blockheaded person incapable of understanding.
#8 Clout. A thick-skulled and clumsy person.
#9 Fustilugs. This insult refers to a person of large stature but meagre-brained, or an oaf.
#10 Dalcop. Literally means a dull-headed person. “Cop” is an old English word for head.
Medieval people had a whole repertoire of insults to make fun of appearance, parentage, and other physical and personal characteristics.
#11 Bespawler. This word refers to a person who generates a massive amount of spit as he talks.
Sample sentence: “Get your umbrellas ready. Here comes Martin the Bespawler”