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15 Old-Timey Insults: Turn Trash Talk Into Points

dunderhead slang for word games

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It’s one thing to dish out some friendly trash talk via the in-game chat function. It’s on a whole other level when you actually play old-timey insults in the game itself! Put your opponent in their place (and a smile on your face) by keeping some of these old fashioned insults in your back pocket. Old insults are new again when you can play them for big points in your favorite word game!

#1 - Blunderbuss

Scrabble: 16 points / WWF: 22 points

Let’s start with getting one thing out of the way. Yes, that’s quite a difference in how many points you’ll score when playing this word. Scrabble letter values tend to be lower than Words With Friends letter tile values. You’ll see this holds true for the rest of the old-timey insults on this list, and with words in these games in general. 

Technically, a blunderbuss refers to a rifle-like gun with a short barrel and a flaring muzzle. As a slang term, it also describes a person who is prone to foolish mistakes. This “blundering” person is literally prone to making blunders. Have a blast with this one! 

#2 - Cockalorum

Scrabble: 20 points / WWF: 25 points

You know how you might use “cocky” to describe someone who is overconfident and arrogant? “Cockalorum” probably derives from a similar origin, as it describes a person who is especially boastful and self-aggrandizing. This is the kind of person who struts around like a rooster, singing their own praises. 

#3 - Dunderhead

Scrabble: 16 points / WWF: 17 points

Derived from the Dutch word donder, meaning “thunder” but associated by rhyme with the word “blunder,” a dunderhead is a stupid person. You’d use it the same way you might use the word “dunce” as one of many old fashioned insults from school. Is there also a connection to a certain Scranton-based paper company? We may never know.

#4 - Foozle

Scrabble: 18 points / WWF: 19 points

With no obvious or official connection to the woozles of Winnie the Pooh fame, a “foozle” is a botched attempt. It’s when you try to do something and fail at it miserably. You can also use it as a verb, egging on your opponent by saying they’re really foozling this word game with you. 

#5 - Foppish

Scrabble: 17 points / WWF: 18 points

Are you playing Words With Friends against a friend who is a little too into their attire? You could say they’re foppish. As early as 17th century England, “fop” is an uncomplimentary term for someone excessively concerned with their clothes and how they look. While not a valid play in Scrabble, “fopdoodle” is even better. That’s a fool double-distilled, one who even provokes ridicule.

#6 - Fribble

Scrabble: 14 points / WWF: 17 points

Looking for some old insults that really put your opponent in their place? Remind them of their trifling importance with a word like “fribble.” As a noun, it describes any frivolous person or thing. This is the kind of person who wastes time doing nothing in particular. You can also use “fribble” as a verb. If you fribble something away, you use it wastefully. 

#7 - Gasser

Scrabble: 7 points / WWF: 8 points

Not to be confused with gaslighting, which is a whole other thing, a gasser has more in common with a cockalorum. Here’s someone who is especially boastful and talks a great deal about how great they are. And there are few things in this world more satisfying than handily defeating such a braggart. 

#8 - Grubbers

Scrabble: 13 points / WWF: 17 points

grubbers slang wordgrubbers slang word

More specifically, we’re talking about word grubbers here, which also shouldn’t be confused with word grabbers. Word grubbers are the kind of people who choose to use unnecessarily complex or obscure words in contexts where simpler words make more sense. They’re also people who are a little too particular about minute details. Chances are that many word game players are word grubbers. 

#9 - Lickspittle

Scrabble: 19 points / WWF: 23 points

You can derive the meaning of “lickspittle” quite literally to arrive at its figurative meaning. A person who “licks spit” is the same kind of person you might describe as a bootlicker or a “suck-up.” If the person acts overly submissive to anyone in a position of authority, groveling at their feet and figuratively licking their spit, they’re a “lickspittle.” The term goes all the way back to the mid-1600s!

#10 - Milksop

Scrabble: 15 points / WWF: 18 points

Picture a piece of bread that’s literally sopping up a ton of milk. It’s basically lost all structure and is falling apart, right? A milksop is the personification of that image. It’s a person who is especially ineffectual, indecisive, and cowardly. They’re just kind of soft and mushy.

#11 - Mumpsimus

Scrabble: 17 points / WWF: 23 points

Old insults based on past mistakes could pave the way for your future victory. (And gloating opportunities!) Mumpsimus derives from a story about an old monk who meant to say quod in ore sumpsimus (“taken into the mouth”) in reciting the Eucharist. Instead, he said quod in ore mumpsimus

In describing a person, a mumpsimus is a stubborn person who refuses to change their expression or custom even after they’ve been shown they’re totally wrong. Could this be your opponent? Supposably. 

#12 - Pediculous

Scrabble: 15 points / WWF: 20 points

While it might look like it refers to a ridiculous pedestrian, “pediculous” actually means that something (or someone!) is infested with lice. In other words, they’re totally lousy. That’s because the Latin term for a louse is pediculus

#13 - Poltroon

Scrabble: 10 points / WWF: 13 points

Remember how a cowardly milksop elicits images of soggy bread? A poltroon is the same kind of person: a complete and utter coward. If we trace its origins through Middle French and Old Italian, all the way back to the original Latin, we find the Latin word pullus. That’s a young animal, presumably one that’s timid and fearful.  

#14 - Scamp

Scrabble: 11 points / WWF: 14 points

You can almost imagine someone in old-timey London using this word to admonish a rascally youngster who’s up to no good. That’s exactly what a scamp is: an impish young person, one caught up in all kinds of mischief. 

#15 - Sorner

Scrabble: 6 points / WWF: 7 points

Playing against the perpetual couch surfer? The person who keeps “accidentally” forgetting their wallet when it comes time to pay? You’ve got a sorner on your hands. The modern day equivalent of a 16th century sorner would be a freeloader or leecher. That’s a person who shamelessly takes without giving anything back. 

Keep It Classy With Old School Insults

Remember that when you dish out these old-timey insults that you should only do so in good fun. Some players enjoy a bit of trash talk and gentle ribbing, but not everyone does. Be respectful with your competitive spirit. To build up more gaming “cred,” check out our list of slang words you can play in Words With Friends.


Michael Kwan is a professional writer and editor with over 14 years of experience. Fueled by caffeine and WiFi, he's no stranger to word games and dad jokes.

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