Tuesday, February 21, 2012

10 Charming Words For Nasty People (Of The Day)

Read on, you wastrels, profligates, miscreants and ne'er-do-wells.

From Merriam-Webster.

RUFFIAN

Definition
Brutal person; bully

Example
"'You try me too much. A ruffian – a common brawling ruffian – that's what you have become.'" – Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World

About the Word
Ruffians specialize in roughness, and between the 16th and 18th centuries, they were also synonymous with pimps – men who solicit clients for prostitutes.


HOOLIGAN

Definition
A usually young man who does noisy and violent things as part of a group or gang; hoodlum

Example
"A Dutch court sentenced the hooligan who attacked [the] goalkeeper during a cup match ... to a six-month prison term Thursday ..." – Associated Press, December 29, 2011

About the Word
This word may be eponymous: Patrick Hooligan was an Irish-born ruffian who attained notoriety (and who died in prison) in London shortly before the turn of the 20th century. It's still associated with Britain, where "football hooliganism" is sometimes referred to as the "English disease."


SCALAWAG

Definition
Mischievous and often morally corrupt person

Examples
"The captain of Company L refused to recognize us; said we were deserters, and traitors, and scalawags; and when he drew rations for Company L from the commissary, he wouldn't give us any." – Jack London, The Road

About the Word
Also spelled scallywag, this term may originally have referred to an animal of very little value. After the Civil War, scalawag came to describe a white Southerner acting in support of reconstruction governments, often in pursuit of private gain; it was used to insult Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind. The origin of scalawag is unknown, but one theory suggests there's a link to the Scottish scoloc, a first-born son given to the Church to educate.


SCAMP

Definition
Rascal; rogue

Examples
"British director Guy Ritchie took Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes out of mothballs in 2009, giving him a sarcastic and kinetic update with the help of lovable scamp Robert Downey Jr." – Matthew Odam, Austin American-Statesman

About the Word
Scamp once functioned as a verb meaning "to roam about idly" (think scamper). The noun we've featured here appeared later, and has a more playful overtone than some other words on this list.


RAPSCALLION


Definition
Rascal; an idle worthless person

Examples
"The devil fetch ye, ye ragamuffin rapscallions; ye are all asleep. Stop snoring, ye sleepers, and pull." – Herman Melville, Moby Dick

About the Word
There are no scallions in rapscallion. Rapscallion is an alteration of rascallion, which is itself an irregular formation of rascal, a term born in an Old French dialect word meaning "to scrape, clean off."


See the rest here.

5 comments:

  1. I love this list! It's good to be prepared. Next time I run across these types of characters, I'll know what to call them. Scut Farkus is the perfect example for a ruffian. Even his name is perfect. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. thanks for the sharing, love your list of description

    ReplyDelete
  3. I never knew about "scapegrace." I learn so much from you, Listy!

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  4. Were I given the option, I would rather spend my time in the company of rogues and rakehells than ruffians or even rapscallions. I do prefer to avoid ne'er-do-wells though. They tend to be a lackluster lot.

    Prairier Girl

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love the Rapscallion at Panera Bread. I always get extra scallions.

    ReplyDelete

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