How often do you get into an argument and think of the perfect comeback … three days later? You don’t want to use tired vocabulary when you take down your opponent — that comeback has to be spectacular if it’s going to make an impact. Confuse and conquer your foes with your linguistic wit. Here are some words for you to keep on the tip of your tongue the next time you’re caught in conflict.
Zoilist comes from the name Zoilus. Who was Zoilus? He was one of Homer’s biggest critics. Yes, the author of The Iliad and The Odyssey. Fittingly, a zoilist is a bitter and baseless critic. At least they won't be able to criticize your vocabulary.
A grumbletonian is exactly what it sounds like. These people grumble all the time and can’t stop complaining. Their complaints often relate to political affairs. Maybe you’ll have a few grumbletonians at Thanksgiving dinner this year.
While not quite as self-explanatory as grumbletonian, cockalorum comes from the Dutch word kockeloeren (to crow) and references a rooster’s strut. A cockalorum is a boastful person who thinks quite a lot of themselves.
This word first showed up in the late 19th century amidst tumultuous American politics. A snollygoster is someone who doesn’t have many moral scruples but is good at getting what they want.
There are plenty of words that double as references to male sex organs and insults, and this is one of them. The term originated in the 1500s, but its meaning didn’t shift away from anatomy until the 1970s. Now it’s used for someone who’s foolish or stupid.
If you’ve heard the term “gasbag,” you know what a gasser is. It’s someone who talks forever even if no one is listening, and usually about themselves. They also have a tendency to brag. You’ll probably find a few gassers in politics or on the news.
A poltroon is a coward. The word comes from the French poltron and Italian poltro. In both languages, the word means “sluggard,” which has a similar meaning—that the person will avoid doing something at all costs.
A rumbumptious person is rude and offensive. They’re also pompous and think they know better than you. The phrase dates back to the early 1800s—it seems people like this have always been around.
A rakefire will stay in your house, chatting and eating your food until the house burns down and all that’s left are the ashes. It’s someone who has long overstayed their welcome and probably won’t get the hint that it’s time for them to leave.
An abydocomist is someone who starts a false rumor and spreads it. They might even brag about being the source of such slander. The term comes from the city of Abydos in Ancient Egypt, where the people were supposedly famous for their falsehoods.
Ultracrepidarians think they know everything, but their information is based on assumption rather than fact. These know-it-alls are happy to offer unsolicited advice, even if they have no idea what they’re talking about.
An ultracrepidarian is probably a snoutband, too. A snoutband constantly interrupts the conversation to tell you how wrong you are. They take pleasure in being argumentative.
Bobolyne and pillock are synonyms for fools. Bobolyne originated with the Tudors, and was created by one of Henry VIII’s teachers, poet John Skelton.
You can tell that some of these words were created for specific uses and have evolved over the years. So the next time you’re stuck in an argument, pull out one of these clever insults, or feel free to create your own! If the burn is fierce enough, it just might catch on.