It’s long been established that the Irish have a way with words, especially when it comes to describing a person that we’re not all that fond of.

This unique talent has been developed over centuries of whining, moaning, and complaining about our fellow man, right back to the days of the early Irish language (and long before that if we’re honest).

Thanks to the searchable digital edition of the Dictionary of the Irish Language, we can discover gems from Old and Middle Irish materials, supplying the perfect new way for you to best insult your enemies.

Here are 15 of the best insults from early Irish:

1. You grandson of a plowman [who is] filthy like a badger, of unregulated wailing and blotchy like a stone pillar!

Early Irish: líacánach: a uí airim brocṡalaig amarmíchánaig aladlíacánaig!

2. You comb of a capon … screaming like a whelp!

Early Irish: a ulcha gaillín … canatgréchánaig!

3. You comb of a capon, smoky-colored, bent and crooked.

Early Irish: a ulcha gaillín detbudánaig cúarlúpánaig.

4. You molting desert ram.

Early Irish: a reithi folta fasaigh ar fiadh.

5. You ugly, case-carrying, cold-handed bag carrier!

Early Irish: a thíagánaig étig aitig úarlámaig!

6. You flea-ridden woodcock.

Early Irish: a chrebair chuilig.

7. You son of a stammering, surly, puffed-up foreign woman.

Early Irish: mac ro boí oc gaillsig goit grúcbuirr.

8. You sallow … bog-barren one.

Early Irish: a apaide acaite anachluim.

9. You greedy voracious ox.

Early Irish: a chonadmairt chícaraig.

10. You comb of a castrated cockerel, smoky-colored, bent and crooked.

Early Irish: a ulcha gaillín detbudánaig cúarlúpánaig.

11. You pitch on the rim of a goblet.

Early Irish: a bí ar burd ardáin.

12. You boiled cow’s udder.

Early Irish: uth bo bruithi.

13. You are dark and crooked, harsh and wrinkled, harsh and pot-bellied.

Early Irish: doburlúpánaig bodurgrúcánaig bodurmétlánaig.

14. You horn of an infertile cow.

Early Irish: adarc bó rodraige.

15. Many a foreign hen and gander is borne by the man of Offaly.

Early Irish: is imdha ón Fhailghech ar imchur gaillcherc agus ganndal.

You can find all these insults and many more in Róisín McLaughlin’s ‘Early Irish Satire‘.

H/T: Irish Archaeology

* Originally published in 2014, updated in Nov 2023.