You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch!
Basically, it's all about insults which are... creative. Not so much like You Fight Like a Cow. These are more serious, but at the same time almost poetic. Like this Arabian insult:
"You son of a rabid bitch! Grandson of a stinking jackal! Great-grandson of a plucked vulture!"
Or this one:
"A thousand dicks in your religion!"
Compare Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon.
- The French guards in Monty Python and the Holy Grail embody this trope. They even use this as their primary battle tactic.
French soldier: I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.
Lucky Day: You son of a motherless goat!
- Sgt. Hartman from Full Metal Jacket was able to come up with some pretty colorful insults on the fly.
- Somewhat cruder than most other examples here, though.
"Texas?! Only steers and queers come from Texas, and you don't look much like a steer to me, so that kind of narrows it down!"
- A spare but pointy exchange in Lawrence of Arabia:
Auda abu Tayi: Harith! Ali, does your father still steal?
- The Redwall book The Long Patrol shows a Mook insulting a stupid co-worker: "If brains were bread, you'd have starved to death before you were born!" An even more impressive example is the "Duel of Insults" in Marlfox; the characters put on a play in which the characters fight with insults rather than weapons, and react as if wounded with each line. Also, in Mattimeo:
"Mangiz does not forget an insult, hedgepig."
- The Spellsinger novel The Paths of the Perambulator has a cage made of gratuitous insults. Mudge the otter manages to defeat it by beating it at its own game.
"Your master should 'ave great fortune. 'E should become rich an' famous an' attractive, with all the world bowin' before 'im. An' 'e should learn at the same time that 'e 'as some 'orrible incurable disease."
- In the book There Will Be Dragons, the Big Bad is given a magnificent dressing down in the middle of a battle, his opponent almost singing a long and eloquent combination of flowery insult and Reason You Suck Speech (it's a full page in the book) that literally leaves the guy crying before he finally gets put down.
"Dionys, thou art a coward. Sooth doth thou send others before thee and refrain from the strife thyself. Thou strikest women yet shirk to strike a man, lest thy pustulent skin be cut by a blade fairer than thy own. Sooth, thou art a coward, Mc Canoc. Dionys, thou art a braggart. Braggart thou art for naught, for in every contest thou art defeated. Fighter of weaklings and braggarts like thyself, whensoever a true knight face thee, thou runs away. Yet, in sooth, from this cowardly retreat dost thou make brag. Mc Canoc, thou art a braggart. Dionys, thou art smelly. Thy breath stinks of the rotten ejacula of horses, which, sooth, thou dost love as thy morning drink. Thy body reeks with the stench of fear, and the manure of the asparagus-eating goats is better than the smell from thy mustache. Mc Canoc, thou art a stinker. Dionys, thou art ugly. The orcs doth not run forward to fight, but away from thy countenance. Sooth, in the history of the ill-favored, thy name is held in high esteem. Thy whore mother screamed at first sight of thee as the replicator burst open of its own accord in horror. The ill-fortuned persons that were forced to care for thee had to put a pork chop around thy neck to get the dog to play with thee. Further sooth, when it did, it mistook thy ass for thy face and preferred it to lick. Mc Canoc, thou art ugly. Dionys, though art stupid. Thrice you have attacked us, and thrice have we thrown thee back, though we are but, forsooth, a fraction of thy number. Thou art unlettered and hath never read of the term "defeat in detail", for assuredly, but those few letters would require all day and the use of both of your pustulent forefingers. But the veriest simpleton canst understand thy tactics are those of a schoolyard bully held back until his tutors at last release him as a man full grown yet unable to manage fingerpainting. The very fact that thou canst breathe must be by the arts of some homunculi or hob, smarter than thou, who doth sit upon thy shoulder and whisper "Breathe in, breathe out" else surely thou wouldst cease in this vital activity for lack of thought. Canst thou walk and chew bubble gum at the same time it is asked and I cry "Nay" for I have found you, face down, the bubblegum before you upon the ground as proof. Mc Canoc, thou art stupid. And that is how a professional insults someone! Now, go away, or I'll start in on Arabic, you miserable mound of gelatinous pus!"
- The Enchantress of Florence gave us, among others, "Why don't you go and masturbate a diseased goat?" and "Tell your master to go put a hole in a picture of his late wife and fornicate with that."
- A possible example in one of the Get Smart novels, when Max is told by Funny Foreigner Hassan Pfeiffer, "May the great bird of paradise lay its eggs in your onion soup." Max spends the rest of the book on and off trying to work out if this is something he would want to have happen to him.
- The trading of flowery insults is very much part of the joy of conversation in Rudyard Kipling's Kim, with a definite note of one-upmanship. Kim for instance forms a rather low opinion of an English drummer boys set to watch over him, in part for Europeans' lack of imagination in this respect, when "all he heard from his companions were the few useless words which seemed to make two-thirds of the white man's abuse. Kim knew and despised them long ago."
- In Harlan Ellison's short story "Djinn, No Chaser", the protagonist spends a little while engaging in mixed haggling and insults with the vaguely Arabic proprietor of a Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday. He manages "May a thousand syphilitic camels spit in your couscous." The proprietor pauses, congratulates him on a remarkably good insult, and notes that he'll have to remember it to use himself.
- "Up your nose with a rubber hose!" from Welcome Back, Kotter.
- Look up Yes Minister...
- Blackadder does this a lot. A particularly impressive example: "You ride a horse rather less well than another horse would, your brain would make a grain of sand look large and ungainly, and as for the part of you which can't be mentioned, I am reliably informed that it wouldn't be worth mentioning even if it could be!"
- The Thick of It is all about this trope.
- Klinger from M*A*S*H once said "May the Bluebird of Happiness leave a surprise in your orange juice!"
- He's also said; "May a camel give birth in your tent!"
- "May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits."
- Johnny Carson used to use these when doing his Carnac the Magnificent routine on The Tonight Show.
May a crazed weightlifter clean and jerk your sister.
- Done occassionally on The Navy Lark, usually by CPO Pertwee. A particularly impressive example:
Pertwee: Johnson...you are a stupid, idiotic, dim-witted, addle-brained, left-handed, feeble-minded, bone-headed, nonsensical, infantile, half-baked, blunt-brained, puerile, unenlightened, quicksotic, spoon-fed, dolt, nutting, biff, bonce--steaming great CLOD!
- Dungeons & Dragons quasi-Arabic setting Al-Qadim follows the tradition. A few of these are found in the "Adventurer's Guide to Zakhara" (Land of Fate boxed set):
May a porcupine live in your trousers for a thousand days and die there for a thousand and one.
- Shakespeare was also a master of this, the term "lily-livered" was popularized by him.
- Cyrano De Bergerac:
- A man wants to insult Cyrano, but all he can say is: "Sir, your nose is... hmm... it is... very big!" Cyrano berates him for being unimaginative, and gives examples of better insults in many different styles.
- At Act II scene I, Ragueneau gives us this gem when he reproach his practical wife Lise her judgment on his friends, the poets:
Lise (dryly): And am I not free to turn at last to some use the sole thing that your
- Practically everything uttered by Fawful in the Mario & Luigi series. "Your lives that I spit on are now but a caricature of a cartoon drawn by a kid who is stupid!"
- The insults in The Curse of Monkey Island venture into this territory sometimes. They're still prime examples of You Fight Like a Cow...but because he's on the high seas, he has to rhyme his retort with his opponent's jibe. If you don't know the correct response, you can still give 'em a rhyme...but it's more like Flowery Idiocy instead.
- Ezio gives Cesare an insult that's pretty flowery for him at the end of Assassin's Creed Brotherhood: "Che nessuno ricordi il tuo nome (May no one remember your name)."
- Something*Positive is full of these, a particularly impressive string here.
- Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic provides new variants of the old one:
Charlotte: This broad is a few components short of a cantrip.
- Jägermonsters in Girl Genius are as good in Trash Talk as they are in a fight:
- Popular in Captn Crazy. Like "Bearded ape", "roast apple".
- Christmas Snow from Shadowgirls, after getting a memo that the life isn't all high-schoolgirlish pettiness, caught a little clinical bureaucrat and... rather creatively "exercised" her Mad Bitchy Skillz.
- Goblins: Kin suffers from fear-enhanced Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness and comes out with some good ones. "Your existence demonstrates a flesh-to-futility ratio that is mathematically staggering!"
- Homestuck: Good gracious, Karkat Vantas. For his first meeting with John, he composed a flood of verbal abuse that took up an entire page, and his meticulously-crafted capslock vitriol can sometimes go downright purple.
- Cwen's Quest had one from Trell bargaining with Cwen: "Sister, you are six samurai short of a set if you think I'm telling you up front!"
Seamus: Oooh, this is yer doing, Willy. I'll turn yer groin ta puddin'!
—Willy punches Seamus away-
- According to Murdoc Niccals of Gorillaz, the school bully Tony Chopper (no relation to One Piece's Tony Chopper) who made his life a misery when he was ten was a "useless bloated backward waste of space who'd probably get a job holding up For Sale signs on street corners, only to then get himself fired and replaced by a bucket of soil. A pissed monkey would stand a better chance in life."
- Ren refers to Stimpy as "a bloated sack of protoplasm" on occasion.
- From Inhumanoids we get "Check the fluid level in your brain!"
- A Jewish one:
May you live in a hundred houses, and may each have a hundred rooms, and may each room have a hundred corners, and may you be thrown from corner to corner!
- A similar one, not sure if I heard it somewhere or just made it up:
May you have a hundred relatives, and may they all give you socks on your birthday!
- Here are some more:
May you turn into a chandelier, so that you can hang from the ceiling all day and burn at night!
- A Chinese one (which actually probably originated in the U.S.): "May you live in interesting times."
- Classical Arabic provides a large number of these. You see, more direct options for insults are notably absent; the ancient Arabs put a high value on poetry, and the language handed down from generation to generation is a high-class, literary/poetic tongue. Pre-Islamic poetry even made an art of insult poetry, called Hijaa', which could get quite creative indeed. On the other hand, the various kinds of colloquial Arabic spoken on streets across the Arab world includes an arsenal of vulgarity and obscenity to rival that of any other language, with a particular focus on attacks on one's parentage—most especially on one's mother—and (for men) implications of being a passive homosexual ("catching", not "pitching"). For comparison:
- A typical Classical Arabic insult: You have the right, and may all your wishes come true.
- A typical colloquial Arabic insult: Your mother's cunt, you son of a filthy whore!
- This isn't to say, however, that Arabs have lost the knack for flowery insults. Classical Arabic—or rather its updated edition, Modern Standard Arabic—still thrives, and literary types are still quite good at creatively insulting one another in it. Additionally, some groups of Arabs have the old-fashioned floweriness: "A thousand dicks in your religion" is not Classical Arabic, but rather Palestinian.
- This is a goldmine for the Real Life section.
- May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits, and may your arms be too short to scratch.
- "May the Protocaliphora fly lay eggs in your testicles weekly." (Protocaliphora is a real genus of fly, but these flies lay their eggs in birds, not humans.)
- Teddy Roosevelt once said of President McKinley that he had "no more backbone than a chocolate eclair".
- Former Prime Minister of Australia Paul Keating is still revered as having possessed one of the sharpest tongues ever wielded in the halls of parliament. His insults weren't all flowery gems (he could regularly be openly coarse and was often downright savage), but a number of them were practically works of art. A collection of some of his best can be found here.
Paul Keating: I was implying that the Honorable Member for Wentworth was like a lizard on a rock - alive, but looking dead.
- Ludwig Van Beethoven had a good one when one of his patrons, a Prince, complained about his work: "Prince, what you are is merely by accident of birth."
- When the Spoonerism had first become popularized, a politician in the British parliament used the opportunity to get some crap past the radar against his opponent, saying, "Sir, you are a shining wit. I am sorry, that was a spoonerism."
- The amazing Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV. When the nicest thing they call you is "Lucifer's secretary", you know they're not screwing around.
- Mark Twain - "I didn't go to his funeral, but I sent a letter saying I approved of it."
- A Message to ANTIFA from an American Infantryman has some good turns. "With that level of brain damage, it’s like your mom tried to drown you as a baby in a bathtub full of bong water…"
- One poem involves seeming to praise the insultee in the first half of each line, but noting in the second half "And [this letter] is actually [this other letter]," turning each "compliment" into a grave insult.