Insults and Aspersions
Like the rabbit Thumper in Bambi, I was brought up on the admonition, “if you can’t say nuthin’ nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”
How times have changed! Not only has insult come to pervade public discourse, the Web abounds with insult generators to assist the invective-challenged.
For instance, creative types who want to add a little class to their abuse can consult a Shakespearean insult generator.
The word insult derives from Latin insultare, “to attack”; literally, “to jump on.” In medicine, an insult is anything that attacks or causes injury to the body. The verb insult means to display a scornful attitude towards someone by speech or behavior.
As I have always understood the word, an insult is a deliberate attack on someone’s feelings, but there’s some evidence that for some folks, even a remark devoid of hurtful intention may be construed as an insult if it disagrees with one’s own views.
This is from an article offering advice about how to respond to insults:
It can be hard to know what to do when someone makes a thoughtful remark that is insulting to your convictions, values or beliefs
I can see how one person’s “thoughtful remark” might be offensive to someone of differing beliefs, but I don’t see how it’s insulting.
Here are some synonyms for the noun insult:
aspersion (usually in the plural)
slap in the face
kick in the teeth
Here are synonyms for the verb to insult:
be rude to
cast aspersions on
call someone names
put someone down
Note on aspersions:
A reader asked me if one can do anything with aspersions other than cast them. The answer seems to be, “No.” The word aspersions comes from the verb asperse, “to besprinkle or bespatter.”
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