72 % of Brits have a unique style when it comes to slight

Study Reveals the British Insults which will soon be Consigned to History

To Gen Z Brits, an insult is now a “put down", perhaps in the form of “don’t be a Karen”, or “you’re so basic”.

But a new study suggests, half of Brits (53 percent) over the age of 40, believe insults were of a gentler nature back in the day, with 60 percent feeling they were more jovial than modern day put-downs.

A resounding 72 percent of all ages polled, agreed Brits have a unique style when it comes to slights, while 81 percent felt it was a very British trait, to insult your loved ones, as a back handed term of endearment.

However, the study suggests that slights such as “cad”, “prat” and “nitwit” – as well as Del Boy’s favourite jibe for Rodney, “plonker” are now entirely unrecognized by a large proportion of society.

Nearly half of Brits under the age of 28 (47 percent) had not heard of the insult “cad”, which refers to an unreliable character - particularly a man who has behaved badly with disregard to women.

Nearly six in ten of the Gen Z demographic had not heard the insult “berk” meaning an “idiot”, according to the study by research agency, Perspectus Global.

Other more regional insults fared even worse. The East Anglian term for a clumsy oaf “Lummox” had not been heard by 62 percent of young Brits - and a majority of Brits overall (54 percent).

The Scots term “bampot” meaning a fool was unknown to six in ten of the younger generation. Interestingly even in Scotland, 20 percent of people were unsure of its meaning.

The posh slang term “blighter”, to describe a contemptible individual, was unknown to a majority (54 percent) of the 18 to 29 year olds surveyed.

Even other more common very British insults such as “prat” were unknown to a lot of the younger generation.  The term is believed to have originated from the Old English word “prætt,” which means trick or prank and was unknown to a quarter of Gen Z.

The term “Nitwit”, meaning someone particularly stupid had not been heard of by 27 percent.

And fans of Only Fools and Horses may wish to look away as 25 percent had no idea that the term “plonker” was used as an insult.

“Language changes, evolves and moves on,” says Harriet Scott, CEO of research agency Perspectus Global. “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.

“It has been fascinating researching thousands of old insults such “mooncalf” which used to mean a fool - or “Cozener” meaning a trickster dating back to Shakespearean England”.

Overall, just one in five (20 percent) of Brits say they’d be offended if they were called a pillock or plonker. 

While 68 percent of us are convinced that Britain has the best insults of any country in the world. Something to be proud of? Or are we just nitwits?


1 Lummox (62 percent)

2 Bampot (60 percent)

3 Blighter (54 percent)

4 Ninny (51 percent)

5 Cad (47 percent)

6 Drip (42 percent)

7 Tosspot (36 percent)

8 Toe rag (34 percent)

9 Pillock (33 percent)

10 Plonker (25 percent)

11 Nitwit (27 percent)

12 Prat (25 percent)

13 Scallywag (26 percent)

14 Git (26 percent)

15 Numpty (22 percent)

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