The "-bag" of "slutbag"

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In an interview with Talking Points Memo, Barbara Morgan, spokeswoman for New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, called former Weiner intern Olivia Nuzzi all sorts of names after Nuzzi publicly criticized the campaign. While the New York Times only revealed that Morgan used "several vulgar and sexist terms," the TPM report spelled it out: Morgan called Nuzzi a "bitch," a "cunt," a "twat," and most colorfully, a "fucking slutbag."

On Twitter, slutbag quickly achieved meme status, and Nuzzi even edited her Twitter profile to include it.  Slang lexicographer Jonathon Green thanked Nuzzi for "inspiring some excellent citations." His magnum opus, Green's Dictionary of Slang, does not include slutbag, but it does illuminate how the derogatory term was formed in the first place. GDoS has an entry for -bag as a combining form:

-bag sfx [SE bag/BAG n.1 (1f); the implication is of being a receptacle for something, most usu. sperm; note also BAG n.1 (3)/BAG n.1 (5)] a sfx used in comb. with another term, usu. a n., to describe a contemptible, despised person; when of a woman, often with implications of promiscuity; see cits. at DIRTBAG n.; FUCKBAG under FUCK n.; GAB-BAG under GAB v.; HORNBAG under HORN n.2; JITBAG under JIT n.3; PISS-BAG under PISS n.; SCRUFF-BAG under SCRUFF n.; SLEAZEBAG under SLEAZE n.

The many cross-references in the entry indicate that the pejorative punch of -bag derives from multiple sources. Two additional -bag epithets to consider are scumbag and douchebag. Scumbag, as Jesse Sheidlower detailed for Slate here, originally meant "condom" (with scum meaning "semen") before it became so devulgarized that it can even appear in the New York Times crossword puzzle. Douchebag, as Jonathan Lighter's Historical Dictionary of American Slang informs us, has meant "a stupid, contemptible, or despicable person" (referring to a woman in its earliest sense) since the 1940s. (Standalone douche, minus the -bag, is an epithet of more recent vintage — see Brian Palmer's Slate Explainer.)

To these various X-bags we can also add hose-bag and ho-bag, which are both in the Oxford English Dictionary's online edition:

hosebag, n.
Etymology:  < hose n. + bag n.
U.S. slang (derogatory).
A sexually promiscuous woman.
1974   R. L. Hill Nails xi. 123   You never worry about fuck-all anyway, long as you have your finger up some three-dollar hosebag.
1979   UNC-CH Slang (Univ. N. Carolina, Chapel Hill) (typescript) Mar. 4   She's a hosebag—I heard about her behavior with Tom, and then Jack, at the same party!
1995   H. Stern Miss Amer. (1996) i. 20,   I just wasted an hour seducing this hosebag and she has a fucking headache?
2002   J. Grisham Summons (2003) vii. 61   What about that hosebag who ditched you? What's her name?.. Yeah, Vicki. I hated that bitch even at your wedding.

ho-bag, n.
Etymology:  < ho n.6 + bag n., perhaps after hosebag n.
N. Amer. slang (derogatory).
A sexually promiscuous woman; = hosebag n.
1989   Post-Standard (Syracuse, N.Y.) 15 Feb. b1/4   If it's a girl, you might call her a ho or ho bag. It stems from whore, but don't get too literal.
1994   Jrnl. Higher Educ. 75 92   A few college slang terms exist for women who are sexually inactive;..a great many epithets for women who are considered promiscuous, most of which are pejorative and subcultural terms (flinger, hose monster,..ho-bag, nympho).
2001   M. McCafferty Sloppy Firsts 10   Manda thinks that reading feminist manifestos makes up for her borderline ho-bag behavior.
2004   Toronto Star (Nexis) 23 Mar. c2,   I was still a virgin. Regardless, as far as the gossips at my school were concerned, I was a ho-bag.

The latter term has, in fact, entered the Weiner/Morgan/Nuzzi story in a tangential manner — David Roberts, a blogger on energy politics for Grist, called Nuzzi a "hobag" in a tweet but later apologized.

NSFW Corp, the online magazine where Nuzzi originally criticized the Weiner campaign (before taking to the pages of the New York Daily News), has been having a lot of fun with slutbag and its potential meanings — catch Paul Carr's podcast here. But it should be noted that slutbag (or slut bag) has been around for a while, even if it hasn't made the slang dictionaries yet. In his 1987 novel Little Red Rooster, Greg Matthews included a rant about a "two-faced slut bag."

[Update: More on slutbag from Katy Steinmetz on TIME's Swampland blog and from Forrest Wickman on Slate's Browbeat.]


  1. Jill said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 10:04 am

    Since this -bag suffix is so strongly associated with women, is there any connection between this and the insult "old bag", which is used only of women?

    [(bgz) That is indeed one of the meanings of bag cross-referenced in the -bag entry in GDoS. As I said, there are multiple semantic streams at work here.]

  2. John Lawler said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 10:07 am

    Just goes to show what a good Container Metaphor theme can do for one.

  3. Anschel said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 10:10 am

    A friend of mine, who was probably about 10 years old at the time, once got really angry and called her father a "moose-bag". No one was quite sure, then or now, what that might imply.

  4. James said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 10:18 am

    Ms. Morgan's colorful comments have demonstrated a couple of things: (1) under certain conditions of temperature and pressure, she is incapable of responding to criticism in a manner we would expect from the spokesman of a man seeking the city's highest office; and (2) the judgment of her employer, already sufficiently impeached by his own behavior, is furthered indicted by those whom he has selected to advise and support him.

  5. Sili said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 10:27 am

    I thought a slut bag was what Pimp Santa carried around.

  6. DonBoy said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 10:31 am

    I was watching some basic cable show (maybe either Stewart or Colbert) in which the bleep person, confronted with the word "douchebag", went with "douche[bleep]". Which I thought was a strange choice, but I now see it's related to this discussion.

  7. Levantine said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 10:37 am

    Then there's the derogatory 'moneybags' to describe a rich person, but there the term is just an extension of the literal sense.

  8. NemaVeze said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 10:55 am

    @DonBoy The censors aren't always pinpoint accurate, as long as they get some portion of a taboo phrase:

  9. J.W. Brewer said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 11:22 am

    Raw google hit counts are of course highly unreliable, but fwiw they confirm my impressionistic sense (via comparing "he's a" to "she's a") that regardless of derivation "douchebag," "scumbag," and "dirtbag" are all currently used to describe males more frequently than to describe females.

    FWIW, by the late '70's the etymology of "scumbag" was no longer transparent to most adolescent boys of my cohort or at least (ok,this is small sample size) I and some fellow Boy Scouts were I think surprised to be informed of the "condom" sense when our Scoutmaster delicately explained it to us in the course of trying to get us to stop using the word in his presence (he clearly viewed the word as vulgar-to-obscene whereas we just viewed it as informal-and-pejorative).

  10. Rube said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 11:54 am

    Wilth regard to "scumbag": I have this recollection of Robert Daley, the writer who spent a year as an NYPD deputy police commissioner, mentioning in his book about the experience that cops were so strait-laced that they would not say "scumbag" in front of a lady, even though the term was only used by cops and was only a mild insult among them. He apparently: (a) didn't know it was a condom; and (b) didn't know it was a widely-used term.

  11. J.W. Brewer said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 12:45 pm

    I think part of the issue is that "scum" as a slang term for "semen" may have become archaic/obsolete after "scumbag" was coined. At least, I'm sure I've heard or read quite a lot of different slang/vulgar synonyms for "semen" from puberty through the present and I don't recall "scum" being among them in any context other than discussions of the etymology of "scumbag." Since the independent pejorative sense of "scum" for low-class or despicable person/people goes back many many centuries, scum + bag could easily be understood by my cohort of adolescent boys as more or less synonymous with e.g. "dirtbag" without any sexual overtones. (Although interestingly enough google ngram viewer is consistent with my recollection that "dirtbag" was not a commonly-used pejorative back in the late '70's period I was referring to and only really took off in more recent decades. "Scumbag" has about a 10-15 year headstart in its rise to prominence, although one needs to make allowances for temporal differences in the acceptability of vulgar/taboo vocabulary in the sort of publications that go into the google books corpus.)

  12. hector said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 1:40 pm

    @ J.W. Brewer:

    Yes, I can only recall "douchebag" being directed at men. It seems to be one of those insults that demeans a man by using a term originally directed at women, like calling a man a "pussy" or a "cunt."

  13. Levantine said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

    Regarding 'cunt', I've heard Americans direct it at women, which sounded very odd to my British ears. In the UK, I've only ever heard men called by this profanity.

  14. Jon said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

    During my UK childhood in the fifties and sixties, 'shitbag' was the only -bag insult I heard.

    In 1993 the UK Environment minister John Gummer was called a drittsekk (shitbag) by his Norwegian counterpart. The papers told us afterwards that drittsekk did not have quite the same strength as shitbag.

  15. Avery Andrews said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

    In Australia there's ratbag (roughly, troublemaker, especially a scruffy one).

  16. Avery Andrews said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

    In Oz, cunt is much milder than it is in North America, one of my kids got some pretty pointed looks when deploying Aussie usage in Canada.

  17. sep332 said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

    Speaking of cops & scumbags, I saw a few months ago one of the actors on the show Castle complaining on Twitter that they weren't allowed to say "scumbag" on TV anymore. They had to change it to dirtbag.

    Regional usage can be confusing. In America, "fanny" is just a funny word for buttocks and doesn't have much punch. Craig Ferguson, who hosts "The Late Late Show", pointed out that it has a different meaning and is much stronger in Scotland. He spent a few minutes saying it when he found out that he's allowed to say that on TV here :)

  18. Brett said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

    I remember my parents (both born 1949) having very different views of how strong an insult "scumbag" was. It came to a head during the 1984 Winter Olympics, when my mother got quite annoyed at his referring to some of the East German athletes as "scumbags." She felt that was far too strong a term to use in that context, although from her reaction, I don't think she associated it with condoms.

    It's funny that while I have such clear recollections of "scumbag" from my childhood, I don't really remember anybody being called "dirtbag" until quite a bit later. Nevertheless, I would have guessed that "dirtbag" was older and more common, until I saw J.W. Brewer's post.

    @Levantine: In my experience, in America, "cunt" is much more frequently used as an insult for women. Moreover, at least in the social circles I frequent, it is also more likely to be used by women than by men.

    @sep332: The case with "fanny" is a bit different. Unlike "cunt," which appears to have the same literal meaning in all varieties of English, "fanny" means different things in America and Britain (as explained by Lee on The Office, using another slang term that doesn't exist at all in America). While I suspect that in America, "fanny" is more likely to be used for a woman's buttocks than a man's, either one's is a possible referent.

  19. JS said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

    All of the above is old hat compared to dickbag

  20. AntC said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

    I remember about twenty years ago, a European politician used the word drittsekk of a British Minister. The UK tabloids worked themselves into a lather as to how insulting this was: dirt-bag?, shit-bag?, scum-bag? worse?

  21. J.W. Brewer said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 4:35 pm

    Brett – just on scumbag v. dirtbag the google n-gram difference is pretty striking, but that may be a seriously imperfect corpus for tracing the history of slang-to-taboo lexical items. I'm not sure that a better corpus for that purpose exists and it would I suppose be mildly surprising if such a corpus showed the *opposite* pattern in terms of which rose to popularity first, but I don't know that one can rule that out ex ante. It does seem possible that there was some point at which tv network censors would not allow "scumbag" but all the writers came to realize that "dirtbag" was an acceptable workaround, in contexts like "Don't move, __bag" yelled by a cop on some "gritty" show at the suspect he is pointing a gun at, which could have thus contributed to dirtbag's rise. But they're not pure synonyms because e.g. that song from a decade-plus ago with the repeated lyric "I'm just a teenage dirtbag, baby" wouldn't (imho) work with scumbag swapped in as a self-description.

  22. Charles Levine said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

    And let us not omit (nor praise) "gasbag" and "windbag"', of which there appear to be no shortage in the current New York political season.

  23. Chris C. said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 5:37 pm

    There was a sketch on SNL many years ago with the original cast and Buck Henry hosting, which expressed the idea that "douchebag" referred to a part of the actual device a woman might use to douche.

    Origin of the insult? I don't know, but the sketch is funnier than hell.

    I hear a lot of younger people tossing about "douchenozzle" as an insult these days, at least online, but "-nozzle" doesn't seem to be as generally applicable as "-bag".

  24. David Morris said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 5:54 pm

    A former prime minister of Australia called a political opponent a scumbag in the course of a debate in parliament, or maybe he referred to the opposing politicians is general as scumbags.

    'Scum' also means 'A layer of impurity that accumulates at the surface of a liquid (especially water or molten metal), A greenish water vegetation (such as algae), usually found floating on the surfaces of ponds, The topmost liquid layer of a cesspool or septic tank', I suspect earlier than the 'semen' meaning.

  25. David Morris said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 5:59 pm

    My online search also found the South Coast United Mountainbikers and the Sunshine Coast Ukelele Masters (both in Australia).

  26. Levantine said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 6:02 pm

    Brett, thanks for your comments. I also get the sense that 'cunt' as an insult in British English has become somewhat detached from its original meaning. Like 'motherfucker', it is offensive because we know it to be so, and not necessarily because of what it denotes. And unlike 'pussy', it has no emasculating overtones as far as I can tell, though the fact that it is usually directed at men suggests that it was at one time used as a way of undermining someone's manliness.

    As for 'twat' (which we Brits rhyme with 'cat'), I actually didn't know its literal meaning until I was well into my twenties, when an American friend enlightened me. Up to that point, I always thought of it as a slightly more offensive version of 'twit', and I wouldn't have been shocked to hear schoolchildren using it. I'm not sure if I was alone in my ignorance, or if 'twat' has become disassociated from its meaning more generally in British English.

    [(myl) Robert Browning had a similar problem.]

    To balance the British examples, it's interesting that 'bollocks' has all but lost its meaning in British American, where it's morphed into the verb 'bollix'. It even occurs in an episode of the Flintstones, as reported in the news a few years back when a concerned mother heard the word on the British version of Cartoon Network.

  27. Levantine said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 6:04 pm

    Oops — 'British American' in my last paragraph was supposed to be 'American English'. I'm not sure what I was thinking!

  28. DaveK said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

    I remember an old George Carlin routine about New York dialects and how the guys at his high school were always careful to use "scumbags" for males and "douchebags" for females. He didn't explain why though.

  29. Ralph Hickok said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 6:49 pm

    The use of "douchebag" as an insult has long puzzled me, since the rubber or plastic bottle sometimes used generally contains some sort of antiseptic and/or cleaning agent.

  30. SK said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 7:33 pm

    Levantine: you're certainly not alone in taking a long time to discover the literal meaning of 'twat', despite already (unlike Robert Browning) recognizing it as an insult of some kind. The same thing happened to me and to my brother, separately, and to several other people I know, who had known the word since childhood but were only enlightened on its meaning in their teens or twenties. The number of people I've heard report pretty much exactly the same experience must be approaching double figures now – and the fact that so many people have mentioned it independently suggests that it happens a lot, and is a pretty shocking realization when it does come. It definitely was for me! I can’t think of any other BrE insult that is so likely to need learning twice over like this.

    I think what makes the case of ‘twat’ so unusual, and the eventual discovery so surprising to people, is not just that it’s a rude word which turns out to have an unexpected literal meaning – because the same could be said for e.g. ‘bugger’, which I'm sure plenty of BrE speakers recognize as fairly strong profanity before they realize that it means 'sodomite'. It’s more that with ‘twat’, once you discover its literal meaning you feel as though you’ve spent your whole life putting it in entirely the wrong category of insult: before it was barely a level above ‘twit’, and now suddenly it turns out that it ‘ought’ to be at a level approaching that of ‘cunt’. It's a huge shift. And personally I still find that my first instinct is to take 'twat' as fairly mild, and it takes a bit of conscious thought to summon up the impression that it's a serious swear word.

  31. Levantine said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 7:42 pm

    SK, thank you for very eloquently describing your feelings after discovering the literal meaning of 'twat'. They very closely match my own, and I'm reassured to know that I was not alone in my happy state of ignorance.

  32. Rod Johnson said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 9:35 pm

    "Dirtbag" swam into my ken at a very specific time: it was the insult of choice by Sgt. Mick Belker on "Hill Street Blues," which debuted in 1981. I had never heard it before, and it seemed to be the TV euphemism of choice for "douchebag" afterward. I'd be interested to see how that compares to the n-gram counts.

  33. Rube said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 9:55 pm

    My memory is exactly the same as Rod Johnson's: I had never heard "dirtbag" before Belker used it, but it seemed to be a great word to describe…well, scumbags.

  34. Matt said,

    July 31, 2013 @ 11:31 pm

    And what about JB announcing that "Papa's got a brand new bag"? Or Sly Stone admitting "Still can't figure out the bag I'm in." Or, for that matter, Austin Powers' book, titled "Swedish Made Penis Enlarger Pumps and Me. This Sort of Thing is My Bag, Baby"

  35. John Walden said,

    August 1, 2013 @ 1:59 am

    Obviously, meaning is lost sight of without a thought. What does "Fucking Hell" mean?

    And gender. From google: "the cold start injector is going out and she's a son of a bitch to fire up sometimes".

    Meaning changes can be extreme: That girl is bitchin.

    I have seconds ago discovered "when bad means good" cases are called contranyms by some and antagonyms by others.


  36. Eorrfu said,

    August 1, 2013 @ 2:07 am

    The only time I ever heard scumbag to mean condom was by Howard Stern describing trying to buy them circa 1970. I still think I remember him using it as a dismissive insult he could use on the radio but haven't listened since college.

  37. djbcjk said,

    August 1, 2013 @ 2:34 am

    P. H. Reaney in his "The origin of English surnames" mentions one Richard Scittebagge from c 1250. A consultation of modern telephone directories confirms that the Shitbag name no longer exists.

  38. Stephen Bullon said,

    August 1, 2013 @ 2:53 am

    Levantine and SK are in good/bad company (delete according to political preference) in failing to know the literal meaning of twat until well into adulthood. In a radio interview in 2009, the then leader of the opposition, David Cameron, who is now PM, voiced his reservations about Twitter with the immortal words "Too many tweets might make a twat".

  39. Stan said,

    August 1, 2013 @ 3:34 am

    I once saw ledgebag, ridebag, and hoebag all in the same tweet. The first two are, I think, particularly (and maybe exclusively) Irish – and unusual for -bag words in that they're emphatically complimentary.

  40. J.W. Brewer said,

    August 1, 2013 @ 7:08 am

    I think I must also have had Belker in mind (although I had forgotten the character's name), when giving my "Don't move, __bag" example above. So I think we have a premise for a future Ben Zimmer column testing the Belker-as-vector-for-rise-of-dirtbag hypothesis. FWIW, I read the coverage of this important story in yesterday's hard-copy New York Post on my commute home yesterday evening and learned that they are willing to spell out "slutbag" while pretending-to-disguise the other epithets in the story as e.g. "tw-t" and "cu-t."

  41. chris said,

    August 1, 2013 @ 11:46 am

    I wonder if there might be any connection between "-bag" and "sack" used as slang for "scrotum", or if it's just a coincidence?

  42. Chris C. said,

    August 1, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

    @djbcjk — There's a good chance that Shitbag was an occupational name, but London no longer requires "night soil" to be loaded and transported by hand.

  43. Ken Brown said,

    August 1, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

    Same here with "twat". A very mild insult in local usage. The literal meaning was something I learned from books in early middle age. I can't remember ever hearing "fanny" either.

    "Cunt" on the other hand still bears its literal meaning. As well as, as Levantine said, being an insult usef almost entirely by men about men. At least it is here in south London.

  44. RP said,

    August 1, 2013 @ 5:31 pm

    Is that really slang? Britannica says that the scrotum is "a thick external sac", so I think "sac" is legitimate usage. Can it become slang just by adding a silent "k"?

  45. RP said,

    August 1, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

    Correction: "thin".

  46. hanmeng said,

    August 1, 2013 @ 9:26 pm

    Society For Cutting Up Men, "men are scum"

  47. Bloix said,

    August 1, 2013 @ 9:53 pm

    I was scrolling through the comments for the sole of purpose of writing that I associate "dirtbag" with Hill Street Blues – and I see that i'm the fourth person here with that recollection.

  48. bks said,

    August 2, 2013 @ 8:23 am

    Brown bag considered racist:


  49. J.W. Brewer said,

    August 2, 2013 @ 9:39 am is relevant to the "brown bag" issue, although I would have frankly thought the loaded term was "paper bag" (understood unless otherwise specified to be prototypically a particular shade of brown). I wonder if the sensitivity-enforcement bureaucrat quoted in the piece actually understands that the historical phenomenon was all about some (lighter-skinned) blacks discriminating against other (darker-skinned) blacks (which I am not convinced is a significant social problem in contemporary Seattle although I could certainly be wrong about that) or just got some third-hand list of "potentially offensive" phrases wrenched from any historical context.
    But, e.g., "pencil test" is a very historically-freighted phrase in South Africa ( but I doubt that the racist baggage of the phrase has made the free-standing word "pencil" taboo.

    The other point in the story is clueless in a different way. It may well be good advice (in a community with a meaningful number of non-citizen residents) not to use "citizen" as if it were a synonym for "resident."* That doesn't mean don't use it at all. It's hard to imagine that government bureaucrats would never ever need to use a word that usefully distinguishing between citizens and non-citizen residents.

    *On the other hand, cities and other local-government units don't have "citizens" in a strict legal sense in the modern U.S. Only the nation and the individual states do. Given that calling someone a "citizen of Seattle" is in some sense a metaphor, it's not entirely clear to me that it necessarily must mean the same thing as "resident of Seattle who is also a citizen of the U.S. and of the State of Washington."

  50. DaveK said,

    August 2, 2013 @ 9:08 pm

    @J W Brewer–
    Interestingly, "citizen" isn't used often in reference to US states. The usual term is "resident" (and legally, per the 14th Amendment, American citizens are all citizens of the state in which they reside, so the terms are synonymous.)
    On the other hand, "citizen" is used all the time to mean a resident of a city or town, which, I believe, was the original meaning.
    Of course, people like the Seattle official in charge of civil rights seem not to believe that a word can have more than one meaning.

  51. J.W. Brewer said,

    August 2, 2013 @ 10:02 pm

    Who is a citizen of which state tends not to matter much for the overwhelming majority of purposes but it is highly relevant in certain legal contexts in determining whether a federal court or state court has jurisdiction over a given lawsuit. Because I have not infrequently dealt with the issue professionally (and in situations in which some odd factor makes it unclear which state so-and-so is really a citizen of or whether or not so-and-so's citizenship should be disregarded for purposes of the arcane jurisdictional issue at hand, etc.), I no doubt think about state citizenship as a concept more frequently than 99.99% of my fellow citizens. (I even have what I believe to be an original and elegant solution to a recurrent problem in the case law which I keep meaning to write up for a professional journal one of these years.) FWIW, despite the 14th amendment's use of the word "reside," it has been interpreted to refer to legal "domicile" which is typically the same as "residence," but not always.

  52. Kiwi Dave said,

    August 3, 2013 @ 11:32 pm

    Long before the Internet, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore explicated 'bag' definitively:

  53. ChuckRamone said,

    August 5, 2013 @ 2:28 pm

    I once worked at a luggage store called the "Bag House" and occasionally there would be tourists who would snicker at the sign and take a picture in front of it. Apparently it's slang for brothel … I think in Australia.

  54. MikeN said,

    August 8, 2013 @ 5:10 am

    In the 1980 novel "The Lords of Discipline" about hazing at the Citadel Military College, after their first night of terror one freshman asks another "What's a scumbag?" and the reply is "I don't know, but I've learned I have a strong family resemblance to one."

    In "Easy A" Emma Stone's character is suspended for using a British obscenity ( at an American high school' OTOH her principal is Malcolm MacDowell); she spells "twat" out in Alpha-Bits so her little brother won't know.

    And in "Shaun of the Dead" on character shouts out to a mixed sex group "Any of you cunts want a drink?"; while supposed to show his lack of class, I think an American group would find it far more offensive

  55. Jake Nelson said,

    August 11, 2013 @ 11:24 am

    When stocking frozen fish in the case at work, some of it is in a bag, other shrink-wrapped to a backer. I've referred to the former as "fishbags" a few times as a joke, and it usually gets a few laughs and is universally felt to have good insult value without having literal meaning ("You're a fishbag, fishbag!").

    (That paragraph sounds really stilted to me as I read it, but then, that happens to me a lot when I post here… self-consciousness, I guess?)

  56. Zythophile said,

    August 15, 2013 @ 8:27 am

    Strange that there are two words, twat and berk, used today by many who think them to be merely mild insults, not realising they each actually refer to female genitalia. (The Old Berkeley Hunt, whose name was borrowed and shortened by Cockneys looking for rhymes, used to have kennels for its hounds in West Middlesex, about three miles from where I am writing this.)

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