Insult Words and How They Started. We thought it’d be interesting to explore where words like douchebag, twat and cunt came from. It’s not always where you’d think!
Believe it or not, in the ’80s there was actually a TV character named Boner. Boner was Kirk Cameron’s character’s best friend on “Growing Pains.” I suppose that was when the word’s original definition was still partially in play. The word was first recorded in 1912 as baseball slang, and meant “a blunder or mistake.” These days it pretty much just means erect penis.
The word chode is what’s known as a neovulgarism, which means it’s a relatively new slang word. It’s taken to mean “a short, fat penis that is wider than it is longer” and a derogatory term for a man. It has its origins in the Urdu verb chodna, which means to fuck.
The word cunt dates back to the Middle Ages. It’s related, hysterically, to the Middle English word quaint, which denotes female genitalia (it’s used in Chaucer, obvs). Quaint –– cunt, get it? It was first used as a pejorative term for a woman’s body parts in the early part of the 20th century, but didn’t appear in the Oxford English Dictionary until 1972.
Of course, “dick” has always been a derivative of the name Richard. But its usage to describe male genitalia? That came much later. Dick has actually had a variety of meanings, including riding whip, apron, declaration and “the mound around a ditch.” Can you imagine? “Darling, pass me my dick so I can begin preparing dinner.” (Sorry, I have the sense of humor of a 14-year-old boy.) Dick as a synonym for penis? That didn’t come into popularity until around 1890.
Yup, a douchebag was a real actual item before it was an insult. Before it became a synonym for James Franco, douchebags were feminine hygiene products, first employed in the late 1600s. Over time, the term — likely because of its proximity to much abused female genitalia — took on a negative connotation. By 1967, the Oxford English Dictionary records, the term had come to mean “an unattractive coed.” These days, it’s more generally understood to mean a crappy person, and has likely increased in popularity because it’s an insult you can say on TV.
This offensive epithet for gay people has rather mundane origins. It originally meant “bundle of sticks” — and its related term, “fag,” meant “cigarette.” It comes from the French word fagot and is likely related to the Italian word fagotto. Surprisingly, it wasn’t always directed at gay people. In the 16th century, the word was also used to describe a “shrewish woman.” So what’s the connection between “bundle of sticks” and “gay guy” or “shrewish woman”? Etymologists believe it may be that the sticks were considered a “burden” — so gays and women became synonymous with these bundles. Geez, guys.
Most etymologists believe the hilarious sounding term comes from the French Creole term putain, which means whore. Others believe it stems from two Chinese words, poon tai and poon kai. [Note: Yes, I know, pictured is Pooty Tang, not poontang.]
You were thinking this had something to do with cats, no? Well actually, the use of pussy as a sexual term is actually more likely derived from the Low German word pulse which meant “vulva” or the Old Norse word puss, which meant “pocket or pouch.” It didn’t show up in the English language as a pejorative term for a woman’s genitals until the 19th century.
This synonym for penis comes from the German word for snake, schlange and is of Yiddish origin.
Like so many of these words, slut has its origins in Middle English and was first documented in the 15th century. It was originally spelled slutte and meant a “dirty, untidy or slovenly woman” and was also considered a synonym for “ugly.” Given the pejorative nature of its original definition, it wasn’t a far leap to slut’s modern-day definition, but even through the 19th century the word’s original meaning was preserved. Garbage cans were called “slut-holes” (kind of awesome, no?), but by the 20th century the term had been transformed to mean promiscuous woman.
Hahaha, the word twat has its origins in the Old Norse word “thviet,” which means “a piece of land.” That eventually morphed into “a place cut up,” “a place of cutting,” and “a place cut off.” So the word didn’t have very far to go until it was slangily used to denote a woman’s “cut” or vagina.