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Top 10 Great British Swear Words and Insults

Credits: Ashley Bowman Sean Harris
Written by Sean Harris Do you know your nutters from your numpties? Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 Great British swear words and insults! For this list, we’re talking trollops, tosspots, pikeys, prats and pillocks for a well-rounded war of words with some brilliantly British bite. While today’s countdown isn’t ranked solely on severity, naturally there’s some bad language ahead. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Great British Swear Words and Insults


Do you know your nutters from your numpties? Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 Great British swear words and insults!

For this list, we’re talking trollops, tosspots, pikeys, prats and pillocks for a well-rounded war of words with some brilliantly British bite. While today’s countdown isn’t ranked solely on severity, naturally there’s some bad language ahead.

#10: Minger


As will become clear, some of today’s entries are harsher than others. And, while ‘minger’ isn’t exactly A-grade offensive, it’s not really something you want to be labelled as, either. Usually aimed at an unattractive or in some way unpleasant person, it had its heyday in the nineties and noughties, but still occasionally crops up in uncouth conversation. Weirdly, lose the ‘R’ and you’ve got crude slang for a woman’s private parts - but the two words are otherwise unrelated.

#9: Shite


Drop the ‘E’ and you’ve got a globally recognised word relating to any kind of excrement. But if you’re sick of the linguistic status quo, what better way to uproot the English language than by adding another vowel to a swear word? ‘Shite’ just sounds a whole lot better (and a little bit happier) than its shorter, spikier alternative. ‘Feck’ achieves a similar feat, if you’re looking for a slighter, safer version of the F-bomb.

#8: Plonker


As probably the least offensive word on today’s list, ‘plonker’ was of course popularised by “Only Fools and Horses” – and usually at Rodney’s expense. The term dates back to the 1800s, when it really did mean ‘a person who plonks’, with ‘plonk’ relating to an action that’s clumsily carried out. Nowadays, if you’re stupid, inept or prone to mistakes, then you’re probably a ‘plonker’ – but it’s usually said without real malice.

#7: Bellend


Swearing so often originates from terms relating to male or female anatomy, but bellend is probably more British than most. A preferred putdown for Sacha Baron Cohen’s Ali-G, this wide-ranging insult has been well and truly transformed since the 19th century – when it was simply said as just another word for ‘penis’. And size matters, too. But if you’re a bigger bellend than somebody else, it isn’t a good thing.

#6: Piss Off


A quintessential curse for any boorish Brit, ‘piss’ is more verbally versatile than your average offensive idiom. If you’re told to ‘piss off’ then it’s best you vacate whichever conversation you’re currently in – unless someone’s ‘taking the piss’, in which case they’re joking, and you can probably stay. But maybe they’re ‘really pissed’ – as in, they’re really angry – or they might just be ‘pissed’ as in ‘plastered’, as in ‘drunk’. Either way, it’s not entirely clear how a slang term for ‘urinate’ came to mean so much – but we’ll go with it anyway.

#5: Bugger


While ‘bugger’ began life as a Medieval slur linked to sodomy, and in some instances still bears links with certain sexual practices, it has taken on all manner of meanings in contemporary speech. As a direct insult, someone’s a ‘bugger’ if they’re particularly annoying. But you can also be told to ‘bugger off’ (meaning ‘leave’), and you can have ‘bugger all’ (if you haven’t anything to give). A well-rounded swear-word, it’s a go-to term for the well-spoken sort.

#4: Wanker


We’re busting out the big guns, now. Despite the obvious literal link, whenever someone calls someone else a ‘wanker’, they’re very rarely referring to their masturbatory tendencies. In fact, the term is typically aimed at any generally unlikeable person, for a variety of reasons. And while ‘tosser’ offers a slightly softer alternative, it’s an adaptable insult that works especially well with road rage, or on the terraces at the football.

#3: Bollocks


Another multi-use, pin-point profanity, the word ‘bollocks’ brings more to the table than just an infamous Sex Pistols album. A common (if coarse) colloquialism for testicles, it’s usage has actually been traced back to one of the earliest English language Bibles. It also doubles up as general slang for anything that’s untrue, unclear or unwanted… Unless you’re describing something as ‘the dog’s bollocks’, in which case it’s actually brilliant, for some reason.

#2: Bloody Hell


Given that it’s Ron Weasley’s unofficial catchphrase, today’s runner-up sits pretty low on the severity charts. But few phrases feel as intrinsically British as ‘Bloody Hell’. It’s our version of the Americans’ ‘Holy Moly’, delivered whenever someone experiences sudden anger or surprise – for better or worse. And you can usually get away with saying it in most situations, too. Just don’t go using it the next time you’re in a Church - for fairly obvious reasons.

#1: Knobhead


We finish on similar etymological grounds as ‘bellend’, for a penile profanity issued all over Great Britain whenever stupidity reigns. As a close synonym of the similarly disparaging ‘dickhead’, knobhead ticks all the boxes as an effective expletive and insult. It’s clear, crude, adaptable and antagonistic, and not something you’d want to be branded as. It can sound pretty prickly at times, but it carries just enough jest for film and TV comedies. An insulting all-rounder, it’s swear word supreme.
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