Do you get a feeling of pleasure when bad things happen to someone, especially someone who has done terrible things to you? If you used to be a lingo geek = nerd = outcast in high school, you must know that the term for this emotion is “schadenfreude” /shahd-n-froi-duh/ from German words schaden meaning harm & freude, joy. Revenge is always sweet when it’s witty and far from balderdash (= senseless, stupid or exaggerated talk or writing). Below are some words we can use to mock our foes:
Dilettante /dil-i-tahnt/- someone who is interested in something such as art or music but does not know very much about it; dabbler. At some point, we tried to win someone’s attention by pretending to know things and behaving like critics or connoisseurs. But if your foe is a chronic Art/Music/(whatever genre) quack, call her/him ‘dilettante!’
Micawber - an eternal optimist; a person who idles and trusts to fortune. You think ordinary folks read Charles Dickens? If so, don’t use this to them. But if you’re sure your enemy never wrote a review of the novel David Copperfield, you can freely use “micawber” if need be.
Cockalorum - a boastful & self-important person. You must have heard of Muhammad Ali’s reputation as boxing’s most colorful cockalorum. Quite easy to guess by the sound of it, cock-alorum , so better check your running speed before spitting this word to anyone. You can always resort to writing, if your sprint is hopelessly slower than the person you’d be running away from.
Martinet - someone who is very strict; a person who stresses rigid adherence to the details of forms and methods. Don’t blame your teacher’s tendency to act like military officers, after all, the first teachers in some schools (e.g. PNU-my alma mater) were army soldiers. To avoid getting an F, never call them obvious terms, address them Mr./Ms. Martinet.
Monomaniac – someone with an obsessive zeal for or interest in a single thing, idea, subject, or the like. Instead of calling someone narrow-minded, brand her/him ‘monomaniac’. Size up your listener’s word-unlocking aptitude before throwing this word; it’s not too hard to figure that mono is one, and mania is madness.
Losel /loh-zuhl/ – a worthless person. I have a theory about this word’s origin, other than what was presented by Merriam and Dictionary.com. Frequently, Japanese and Korean students learning English find it hard to articulate “l” and “r” distinctively, so “loser” became “losel”. A word of caution: just use “losel” when you think you’ll never want to see that person ever.
Nebbish - a pitifully ineffectual, luckless, and timid person. From nebekh (Yiddish) meaning poor,or unfortunate. For instance, “Mark turned out nebbish- a stark contrast to the attractive personality he put up on our cyber meeting.” I think the weak should be spared from further insults, but this is probably good if we want them to search & learn, or simply provoke them to show some confidence.
Minnow - (informal) unimportant person/group. “The minnows played well tonight,” said my aunt to refer to the less experienced player. Yes, there are really weaklings everywhere. You, word smarts, don’t need to hear this term spoken to you, but if someone meanly calls you so, at least you can react rightly.
Lastly, a true word smart finds humor in everything he/she reads. So I should spot not a single agelast (=someone who never laughs) among you. Big thanks to wordsmith.org, Another Word A Day (by Anu Garg), & Norman Lewis’ Word Power Made Easy(though I left the book to my Ate, huhuhu.).
Tags: describe people, ESL, insult enemies, language, learning English, Nouns, revenge of the nerds, word nerd, word smart