Below we’ve put together 50 of our favorite old-time put-downs, with their original definitions pulled directly from dictionaries published more than a century back (with some slight tweaking for added clarity). Some have gone completely extinct from our language, while others are merely endangered; you may have heard them before, but they’re terribly underused. All are worthy of a revival.
And as a bonus, we’ve also included a section of unique insults issued by none other than Theodore Roosevelt — a man who never suffered fools, or white-livered weaklings, lightly.
1. Afternoon Farmer
A laggard; a farmer who rises late and is behind in his chores; hence, anyone who loses his opportunities.
2. All Hat and No Cattle
An empty boaster; a man who is all talk and no action.
A short gun, with a wide bore, for carrying slugs; also, a dumb, blundering fellow.
A mean fellow; a man trying to worm something out of another, either money or information.
5. Chatterbox or Clack-Box
An excessive, incessant talker or chatterer. “Clack-box” is the more derisive variation.
7. Chuckle Head
Much the same as “buffle head,” “cabbage head,” “chowder head,” “cod’s head” — all signifying stupidity and weakness of intellect; a fool.
9. Death’s Head Upon a Mop-Stick
A poor, miserable, emaciated fellow. He looked as pleasant as the pains of death.
10. Duke of Limbs
A tall, awkward fellow.