While the Brits are known for a lot of things, their unique sense of humor is definitely one of them. All it takes is a quick look at their lineup of sitcoms and comedies to see that biting comebacks and witty remarks are par for the course. But the same is true when it comes to
hilarious British insults.
The Brits really know how to serve it when they're calling a person out. But what's even better than hearing these
terms and phrases — and figuring out what they all might mean — is potentially incorporating them into your everyday life, right here in America.
While you may not want to walk around calling someone a "pillock" or claiming a friend is "mad as a bag of ferrets," it never hurts to tuck a few gems into the back of your mind, for future use. These insults mean business in England, but don't pack quite the same punch here. And thus can be used in a funnier way.
Whether you're looking to pick up a few fresh comebacks, or simply want to laugh about how delightfully harsh some of them can be, then read on below for a few of the most
hilarious British insults.
If you want to point out — in a rather rude way — that someone's confused or unable to cope with present circumstances, go ahead and say they've "lost the plot."
"It’s believed this British insult dates back to the 17th Century and refers to losing the plot in a story or play," Philip McLoughlin, director of UK-based translation and English services company
PJM Translations, tells Bustle.
A Brit might call someone a "muppet" and tell them to get a move on, especially if they're acting clueless, or getting in the way. According to British Heritage, this Jim Henson-inspired insult implies a person has reached the
point of needing guidance and help, just like a puppet.
The word "git" first appeared in the 1940s, McLoughlin says, and is used to refer to a person who's contemptible or unpleasant. While it may sound mean, it's not far off from the American word "jerk" in terms of its harshness, according to British Heritage. And it can even be used in a
somewhat loving way.
"That Idea Is Positively Barmy"
To call someone or something "barmy" is to say it's foolish, or kind of mad. Its use dates back to the 16th Century, McLoughlin says, and refers to the "barm" or yeast that forms on the surface of malts, creating a froth or a foam.
Call someone a twit and you'll basically be saying they're silly or foolish. According to BBCAmerica, this is a term Brits may throw at friends or family members when they're behaving in a "
less than cerebral manner," with synonyms including words like "prat" or "knob-head."
"They're A Gormless Idiot"
For a real old time-y insult, consider the term "gormless," which refers to someone who lacks common sense. It stems from the old Norse word of Gaumr, McLoughlin says, meaning to take care or heed. But even though it's old, it can still be an effective — albeit funny – insult to use today.
"They're Mad As A Bag Of Ferrets"
If you visualize a bag of ferrets, there'd be no other way to describe it than totally chaotic. And that's why Brits may
use this phrase when someone's behaving in a shocking way, or coming up with crazy ideas.
"Are You Having A Laugh?"
"They're A Complete Pillock"
David Prado Perucha/Shutterstock
According to BBCAmerica, "pillock" is yet another insult in a long line of British insults, which implies someone is
being an idiot. It can be thrown around for fun with friends — especially if they're coming up with silly ideas — instead of actually calling them stupid.
When Brits don't like something, they tend to say it was "pants," instead of saying it "sucked." The phrase gets the point across in a hilarious way, without being too harsh.
"Shut Your Laughing Gear"
Saying "shut your laughing gear" is a way to tell someone to
shut their mouth. But because it's so painfully specific, it has an extra dose of sass that makes it hilarious.
If someone's spotted in public looking particularly alone, they might be called a "Billy no-mates," which basically means they
have no friends. It's rude. And yet, because it has that delightful British twist, it's hard not to love.
As noted on EnglandExplore, the word "numpty" is used when someone is
coming off as unwise or otherwise incompetent. It's basically like calling them a "dummy," but with that British twist.
Of course, these insults might not pack the same punch here in America, as they do in England. But they're still fun to hear, and
may even come in handy the next time you need a clever comeback.