Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Samuel Johnson

Today I thought I'd share some fun insults from a book I have on my desk called, Samuel Johnson's Insults. But first, I'll tell you about the man...

Dr. Johnson - as he was often called - was a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor, and lexicographer. In 1755, Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language was published after nine years of work. It has been described as "one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship," and considered the pre-eminent British dictionary until the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary (also known as the OED). According to my little book, Johnson's "was an age of insults. Never has abuse been served up with more zest than in the eighteenth century." For example, "when the earl of Standish complained that his former friend, the libertine John Wilkes, '[would] die either on the gallows, or of the pox,' Wilkes replied, 'That must depend on whether I embrace your lordship's principles or your mistress.'"*

Here then, are a few insults from the book:

footlicker: A slave; an humble fawner, one who licks the foot.

looby: A lubber; a clumsy clown.

pettifogger: A petty small-rate lawyer.

slubberdegullion: A paltry, dirty, sorry wretch.

toper: A drunkard.

Now, go forth and see if you can't make use of one of these words today. I'm sure you can find at least one footlicker in your travels.

*Sources: Wikipedia, and, Samuel Johnson's Insults, ed. by Jack Lynch 


  1. Bet I can use the first one at work today.

  2. a pettifogger.... LOL!

  3. We've really lost some of the color in our language over the centuries. Shakespeare, too, had some of the best insults.

  4. That was fun. I just finished reading 'Roughing It' by Mark Twain. He was a master of the insult.

  5. *giggles* I read because my son shares this name, but I always love learning new insults *snort*

  6. Ha - those are sadly underused. :)

  7. Fun! Insult books are interesting, aren't they?

  8. I've used bootlicker a few times recently; does that count? Love these! Especially the one I can't pronounce, LOL!

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  9. Oh my...very funny.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  10. Those are awesome insults.

  11. Great words. Churchill was a master of delivering classy insults, too.

  12. This is an appropriate tribute for the opening of the A to Z Challenge. Glad that you've joined us.

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog


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