Loads of classic British insults like pillock and plonker are ‘at risk of dying out’

Well, there's only one way to sort that out...

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 13th May 2024

Linguists are warning that loads of classic British insults like pillock and plonker could be “at risk of dying out”.

When was the last time you heard the word ‘tosspot’? Can you remember when you last called somebody a ‘prat’, a ‘git’, or maybe a ‘nitwit’? Or perhaps branded a clumsy or stupid person a ‘lummox’? Well, when it comes to Gen Z, there’s a good chance the answer to all of those questions is never.

That’s because a new survey has discovered that a significant number of those born between 1997 and 2012 aren’t familiar with a wide range of classic insults used by Brits.

Instead, Gen Z were found to be embracing newer insults such as ‘Karen’, ‘simp’, and ‘basic’.

This shocking revelation comes after international research agency, Perspectus Global, recently carried out a survey asking 2,000 people which insults they recognised from a long list of words that are used both nationally across the UK and regionally too.

Loads of classic British insults like pillock and plonker are ‘at risk of dying out’ / Credit: Joshua Hoehne (via Unsplash)

Topping the list of insults that are at risk of dying out is the aforementioned ‘lummox’, with 62% of people surveyed under 28 years of age, and just over half of all those surveyed, being unfamiliar with the term – which is most commonly used in East Anglia.

‘Bampot’ was second on the list, with 60% being unfamiliar with the word, while ‘blighter’ was third, having stumped 54% of young people, and ‘ninny’ – which is a light-hearted word for a silly person – and ‘cad’, which is a word for a dishonest man, both rounding out the top five and flummoxing just over half of those surveyed.


Top 15 British insults at risk of ‘dying out’

1. Lummox (62%)
2. Bampot (60%)
3. Blighter (54%)
4. Ninny (51%)
5. Cad (47%)
6. Drip (42%)
7. Tosspot (36%)
8. Toe rag (34%)
9. Pillock (33%
10. Plonker (25%)
11. Nitwit (27%)
12. Prat (25%)
13. Scallywag (26%)
14. Git (26%)
15. Numpty (22%)

‘Numpty’, ‘scallywag’, ‘toe rag’, and ‘prat’ are some of the other insults featured on the list.

Fans of the absolute classic British sitcom that is Only Fools And Horses might also be a bit miffed to find out that one of Del Boy’s favourite insults to fire at his brother Rodney, ‘plonker’, was unknown by a quarter (25%) of Gen Z.


“Language changes, evolves and moves on,” explained Harriet Scott, who is the CEO of Perspectus Global, as the shocking survey results were released.

Read more:

“Our research shows that calling someone a plonker or a prat is no longer a fashionable way to insult them, and interestingly, the research highlights the extent to which Brits feel some of the more traditional jibes, feel softer and less severe, than some of today’s more controversial ones.”

Featured Image – BBC iPlayer