Slang City Mail

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July 17, 2008

Slang of the Week: stink-pot (noun)
an unpleasant person

Mary Beth is such a stink-pot. She told everyone that I drank her dad’s beer and fell off the bunk bed at her slumber party, which is so not true!

Celebrity quote:
“You think you've got problems? Try having a name like Bridgett Butt! TISNF*! It wouldn't be so bad if there weren't boys like Mikey Parsons around. IMHO** he's a Stinkpot with a capital S.”
— Children’s book character Bridget Butt

Next Wednesday, July 23, marks the inaugural celebration of Insult Your Boss Day (IYBD), a holiday which I must admit I made up. (If you’ve ever wondered how to start your own holiday, put up a website and send out press releases. It worked for the people at Pumpkin Pie Day and Carpenter Ant Awareness Week—both listed in Chase’s Calendar of Events.) Now that it’s been picked up by the media, IYBD is official, and in honor of the event, I wanted to present you with some unusual insults you might use if you decide to participate.

Stink-pot, around since the mid-nineteenth century, most likely came from the nickname of the musk turtle, though it’s also been the nickname of the petrel. (I can attest from personal experience that musk turtles smell bad; my knowledge of petrels is limited.) It is not common these days, and as shown in the example, more likely to be used by children than adults.

Fifty years before stink-pot was first used, an annoying person was a blister, like the equally annoying skin condition; at the same time, a slow-witted person was a mutton-head.

Two of the most colorful terms I found in my research come from the military. During the Second World War, a Latrine Sergeant was someone who gave orders he didn’t have the authority to make. In the Civil War, a coffee cooler was among the last to get started at work; he waited until the morning’s coffee was cold.

The nineteen twenties provides some of the strangest-sounding insults. A stupid girl was called a mockadite, while someone who spoiled your good time was a wurp. That era also ushered in a term appropriate for many bosses: nickel nurser, for a cheap person.

Of course, if you want to be direct, you can always take your cue from nineteen fifties teenagers, who told people they didn’t like to D.D.T., slang for “Drop Dead Twice.”

For information on how to celebrate IYBD, the official website is at

*TISNF: That is so not fair.

*IMHO: In my honest opinion

Take a look in our bookstore for books and DVDs on all kinds of slang! This week's picks: The Oxford Dictionary of Slang. Although it’s called a dictionary, this reference is arranged more like a thesaurus, with chronologically arranged slang terms for words that carry the same meaning. And of course, you can find plenty of insults in The Perfect Insult for Every Occasion, Lady Snark’s Guide to Common Discourtesy.