Thirty Vertebrate Common Names Potentially Useful As Insults

Insulting people by comparing them to animals is nothing new, but in the English language we don’t put much creativity into the practice. Most animal-name insults are short, one syllable, four letters or fewer: “Dog,” “pig,” “ass,” “cow.” And we’re taxonomically uncreative, too: with occasional exceptions such as “chicken” or “turkey,” most of our day-to-day insults generally just use mammal names.

And yet we live in a wild and varied world, with informal taxonomic diversity almost as great as the biological kind! Clearly this set of circumstances cannot long stand.

As a public service, then, I have compiled thirty actual common names of actual animals that are out-of-the-box ready, plug and play insults, each one linked to a citation to prove someone actually named an animal that. read the list and tell me that each name doesn’t bring to mind someone special you could have used it on.


12 thoughts on “Thirty Vertebrate Common Names Potentially Useful As Insults

  1. Wild_Bill

    I have always been quite certain that if most animals could speak they would insult each other with references like human being, man, human, and homo sapien.  Can’t imagine a more deadly set of names.

  2. wombatarama

    It’s not an official name, but I think “snot otter” is worthy of inclusion. Although come to think of it “hellbender” could also be useful in some circumstances.

  3. ChasCPeterson

    Some of these are pretty good!
    I suppose ‘Yellow-bellied Sapsucker’ is just too easy.
    But I’m also proud to add ‘Pig-footed Bandicoot’ to the mammal list.
    ‘Hairy Frog’?

    hmm this will require some thought…

  4. hyoid

    whoops!  please disregard. LOL! wrong coment box. I apologize for any misunderstanding. I’m an idiot.  I have papers to prove it.  (big goofy looking smiley face)

  5. Myk

    Boy, you should come to Australia some time. We use a wide variety of bird and fish names as insults: mullet, galah and drongo being the most common.