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Brits Think They Have The World's Best Insults

Well, not quite all Brits. But over two thirds do. However, Gen Z (those born from 1997 to 2011) are left confused by the older put-downs.

Man shrugging his shoulders
The ancient art of the verbal put down.

Long standing, traditional British insults such as nitwit, berk, pillock and plonker are in danger of dying out within a generation, a new survey suggests. The terms, apparently, are “no longer a fashionable way” to insult someone.

Gen Z respondents view the insults (at least, those that they recognise) as more severe and likely to cause offence, preferring to use jibes such as “Karen”, “basic” or “boomer”. But, on the flip side, half of those over the age of 40 believe insults were gentler in the past, with 60 percent feeling they were more jovial than modern day put-downs.

Overall, 72 percent of respondents thought that people in the UK have a unique way of insulting each other. Of course, they may not be aware of the numerous hand signals that the Italians have developed.

However, terms such as “cad”, “prat”, “nitwit” and “plonker”, are no longer recognised by a large proportion of society, the research found. For example, almost half of people under the age of 28 who were polled had never heard of the insult “cad”: an unreliable character and particularly a man who behaves dishonestly toward women.

Six in 10 of the Gen Z demographic had not heard the insult “berk”, which refers to someone who is stupid, silly or annoying.

In total, 54 percent of young people had not heard of “blighter”, used to describe a contemptible individual, while a quarter said they had not encountered the even more common British insults “prat”, “nitwit” and “plonker”. The poll also discovered that 81 percent felt it was a very British trait to insult your loved ones.

Despite the fading prevalence of some of the country’s favourite slights, 68 percent of people were convinced that Britain still has the best insults of any country in the world. Which may, of course, be rather insulting to other countries.

Harriett Scott, the chief executive of research agency Perspectus Global, which carried out the survey, said: “Language changes, evolves and moves on. Our research shows that calling someone a plonker or a prat is no longer a fashionable way to insult them. Interestingly, the research highlights the extent to which Brits feel some of the more traditional jibes feel softer and less severe than some of today’s more controversial ones.”

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