Latin Insults for Everyday Life

What’s the best way to deal with someone you don’t like? You could try throwing them the cold shoulder, but that usually doesn’t work. Most times, they don’t even know that you are avoiding them or simply don’t care in general. If you really want to mess with someone, try insulting them (NOTE: Please don’t actually insult someone; this is just to set up the article because I had no ideas for the introduction. Please be nice.) The problem with insults is that your victim can craft a witty comeback and leave you standing there looking dumb. However, if they don’t understand the abuse you throw at them, they can’t respond, leaving you the crowned victor (you most likely will not have an actual crown, sorry). While some people turn to Shakespeare for these killer insults, Latin insults are much funnier, more hurtful, and like all things in Latin, harder to understand.

Some of the best Latin insults were crafted over two thousand years ago in ancient Rome. Ancient Latin writers must have had many enemies based on the number of insults found in their works. For example, Lucius Apuleius Madaurensis was a Latin writer who wrote The Golden Ass, the only Latin novel to survive in its entirety. Ancient Rome was a truly great society, but somehow, this is the only entire novel that survived. Actually, it makes perfect sense as this guy was hilarious. One of the many insults contained in his work is “foetorem extremae latrinae.” This insult is best used against someone from whom you would want to socially distance as it translates to “you are the stench of a low-life latrine.” If the person you have a grudge against is a space cadet or not known for their academic prowess, this insult by Sallust, a Roman historian, will be your best option: “vastus animus.” Short and sweet. It translates to “his mind is one vast wasteland.” Although, if your rival acts like they are pretty tough and stronger than they really are, this quip written by Horace will be sure to put them in their place: “ongos imitaris.” This is probably my favorite insult as it means “you pretend you are one of the big boys.” A true classic. However, if you have some time on your hands and really want to put someone in their place, this insult by the poet Persius is the way to go: “Stertis adhuc? Laxumque caput conpage soluta oscitat hesternum dissutis undique malis? Est aliquid quo tendis, et in quod derigis arcum?” This means, “Are you still snoring? Is your slack head almost snapped on its stalk, with your face unzipped by the yawns earned in yesterday’s debaucheries? Do you have any goals in life? Is there any point to your life?” Wow, all I can say is wow. While it may be hard to pronounce, that is a true soul crusher. Use it very cautiously. These ancient Latin insults are incredible, but some of the best slanders were created relatively recently, well after Latin was no longer spoken. 

Even though nobody speaks Latin on a daily basis, people are still using it to craft killer insults. One of the harshest and strangest ones out there is “Te odeo, interface te cochleare.” While this insult is relatively short, it gets right to the point as it directly translates to “I hate you. Kill yourself with a spoon.” This quip will leave your victim very distraught (after they look it up to see what it means), so only use it in dire situations. As far as the spoon part goes, its meaning is unclear, but it adds a little humor to this grave sentence. Along the same lines, this next insult has a similar theme but is less forceful and contains a historical reference. “Utinam coniurate te in foro inteficiant” is a great callback to the assassination of Caesar, as this means, “May conspirators assassinate you in the mall.” This is a hilarious insult that doesn’t make much sense in this day and age, but if it were around in Ancient Rome, it would be one of the crudest phrases. However, if you are looking for a more modern reference to insult someone, this attack is perfect as it is one of the most famous quotes from the movie Forrest Gump: “stultus est sicut stultus facit.” This obviously means “stupid is as stupid does.” It most certainly will leave your victim feeling rather dumb and, well, stupid. 

All of these insults will truly dig into your enemy and definitely leave them thinking, “what did they just say to me?” It may take some time for them to Google Translate what you said to get the full effect of the slander, but it will come, eventually. Insulting someone in Latin will make you sound cool and witty, and it also has the positive of harming the other person (after translation, of course). While insulting someone is wrong and frowned upon in our society, sometimes it has to be done, and in these situations, turn to the great, always reliable, Latin insults.

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