15 British insults set to relegated to the history books within a generation

15 British insults set to relegated to the history books within a generation

These British insults will be consigned to history within a generation, research shows


As times change, so do the insults we use, for instance, Gen Z Brits call an insult a “put down", perhaps in the form of “don’t be a Karen”, or “you’re so basic”.

Now, a new study suggests half of Brits (53 per cent) over the age of 40, believe insults were of a gentler nature back in the day, with 60 per cent feeling they were more jovial than modern-day put-downs.

All ages in the poll agreed (72 per cent) that Brits have a unique style when it comes to slights, while 81 per cent felt it was a very British trait, to insult your loved ones, as a backhanded term of endearment.

However, slights such as “cad”, “prat” and “nitwit” – as well as Del Boy’s favourite jibe for Rodney, “plonker” are now entirely unrecognized by a large proportion of society, the study found.

Have you heard the word "cad" before?

Nearly half of Brits under the age of 28 (47 per cent) had not heard of the insult which refers to an unreliable character - particularly a man who has behaved badly with disregard to women.

Meanwhile, almost six in ten of the Gen Z demographic had not heard the insult “berk” meaning an “idiot”, according to the study by research agency, Perspectus Global.

Other more regional insults fared even worse. The East Anglian term for a clumsy oaf “Lummox” had not been heard by 62 per cent of young Brits - and a majority of Brits overall (54 per cent).

The Scots term “bampot” meaning a fool was unknown to six in ten of the younger generation. Interestingly even in Scotland, 20 per cent of people were unsure of its meaning.

The posh slang term “blighter”, to describe a contemptible individual, was unknown to a majority (54 per cent) of the 18 to 29 year olds surveyed.

Even other more common very British insults such as “prat” were unknown to a lot of the younger generation. The term is believed to have originated from the Old English word “prætt,” which means trick or prank and was unknown to a quarter of Gen Z.

The term “Nitwit”, meaning someone particularly stupid had not been heard of by 27 percent.

And fans of Only Fools and Horses may wish to look away as 25 percent had no idea that the term “plonker” was used as an insult.

“Language changes, evolves and moves on,” says Harriet Scott, CEO of research agency Perspectus Global. “Our research shows that calling someone a plonker or a prat is no longer a fashionable way to insult them. Interestingly, the research highlights the extent to which Brits feel some of the more traditional jibes, feel softer and less severe, than some of today’s more controversial ones.

“It has been fascinating researching thousands of old insults such “mooncalf” which used to mean a fool - or “Cozener” meaning a trickster dating back to Shakespearean England”.

Overall, just one in five (20 per cent) of Brits say they’d be offended if they were called a pillock or plonker.

While 68 percent of us are convinced that Britain has the best insults of any country in the world. Something to be proud of? Or are we just nitwits?

Very British insults which will die out within a generation:

  1. Lummox (62 per cent)
  2. Bampot (60 per cent)
  3. Blighter (54 per cent)
  4. Ninny (51 per cent)
  5. Cad (47 per cent)
  6. Drip (42 per cent)
  7. Tosspot (36 per cent)
  8. Toe rag (34 per cent)
  9. Pillock (33 per cent)
  10. Plonker (25 per cent)
  11. Nitwit (27 per cent)
  12. Prat (25 per cent)
  13. Scallywag (26 per cent)
  14. Git (26 per cent)
  15. Numpty (22 per cent)

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