Woops! Before I can catch my cup, my coffee spills, splashing the perfectly pressed pants of the elegant gentleman dining at the table next to mine. Under his breath, but still audible, I hear him say, “Fopdoodle!” The word sounds cartoonish, but his tone is unmistakable — it resonates with irritation. He's swearing at me! Still mopping up the mess, I blurt, “What?”
Although my steamy beverage barely missed scalding his leg, my regret and apology are replaced by persistent — perhaps annoying — curiosity. Again I ask my dinner neighbor to explain.
He's more gracious than the circumstance warrants. He nods agreeably and invites me to join him heading back in time 200 years. He's an expert on curse words of that time. He begins by assuring me that although these obscenities seem quaint and awkward, when you know their meaning, they provide the same satisfaction as today's swear words — with the advantage of not offending.
In the spirit of sharing, here are some additions for your cursing vocabulary:
GOBERMOUCH This is an old Irish term for someone who’s nosy and likes to meddle in other people’s business. Everyone knows a busybody, right? Don't let your gobermouch neighbor or gobermouch workmate have any more control over you than they already do. Maintain your privacy — and in today's world, limit your posting on social media.
SNOUTBANDS always interrupt a conversation to correct or contradict the person speaking. Every social group has snoutbands who think they know everything. They probably don't know the meaning of this word though — at least not yet.
ZOUNDERKITE is a Victorian word meaning "idiot." In today's world you could use it when you're driving on a highway and someone unexpectedly swerves into your lane. You slam on your brakes and barely avoid an accident. Filled with irritation you might exclaim, "That zounderkite cut me off!"
GNASHNAB is an 18th century northern English word, describing someone who complains all the time. Gnashnabs are never satisfied. Modern synonyms include nitpicker, moaner, victim, and grumbler. Gnashnabs are just as bad company now as they were back then.
A RAKEFIRE is someone so uncool they outstay their welcome in your home until the dying coals in the fireplace need to be raked over just to keep them burning. Rakefires are oblivious to yawns and suggestions that it’s getting late.
Here’s the obscenity that started this exploration. Should I be offended?
FOPDOODLE is a term to use with people of little significance. If you're letting someone get on your nerves who shouldn't have that power, they're a fopdoodle. It’s important to remember they’re totally useless — then carry on.
Like most swearwords you can use these insults as nouns or make them into action verbs as in:
"I don’t want to be a gnashnab (complainer) and snoutband (interrupt) you as you read this, but it’s my nature to be a gobermouch (busybody) and I'd like to know — right now — what you think of this blog.
Oh no! I rakefired (outstayed) my welcome."