We need some new words for when someone is acting weak or cowardly. Like real derogatory insulting ones. All the good ones we have nowadays imply some unchangeable characteristic of a subgroup i.e., they're all references to women. Women are not weak and not cowards, so these no longer have any meaning. Yelling at someone "stop being a girl" carries no weight when people exist like Ronda Rousey and Malala Yousafzai and Simone Biles and Hillary Clinton and Winona LaDuke and Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Elizabeth Warren and Leslie Jones and Emma Watson and on and on.
The word "pussy" refers to female anatomy. I guess if you don't have a penis, you're missing the thing that gives you strength. Clearly, this one's gotta go right out. And no, I don't think there's a way to change this into meaning "a cat". We'd just be fooling ourselves. And I wouldn't want to implicitly insult cats that way either.
I can't use "wimp", because that's what nine-year-olds say when they're too afraid to cuss. It's what they used in PG movies in the 1980's like E.T. Plus it might also be derived from something feminine. There's a thing called a "wimpole" which is a head/neck covering for women. But it probably came from Wimpy, the hamburger-lover in Popeye.
The word "wuss" is just a combination of "wimp" and "pussy" so that's right out. (and for you fact seekers, this word was invented recently, first used in "Fast Times as Ridgemont High" (1982) -- I love these research topics).
For "chicken", all I can think of is Back to the Future II and III, where Marty has a forced personality quirk where he never backs down if he's called a "chicken" (or "yella'", if you're in the old west). It's so odd, the word's lost meaning. Also chicken is delicious.
The word "pansy" is derived from a flower and is derogatory for an effeminate gay man. Can't use that one.
Quite obviously, "sissy"is rooted from the word sister. Feminine.
"nidgit" -- I found this one while looking up other candidates. Problem is, this is WAY too close to another "N" word.
Don't ever say I'm a man who only points out problems but never provides solutions. There are few words that we might be able to substitute in, maybe to the point of getting them adopted to full-time use.
"git" -- well, we steal everything else from the British, why not keep going? "Git" (not referring to the code repository) means "worthless person", origin: 1946, derived from the Scottish originator "get" which means "illegitimate child, brat" (because it comes from "beget"). It's a bit terse, doesn't invoke the intended vindiction well, but it's our best bet, I think.
"jackhole" -- I believe Adam Carolla created this when he needed something to use on the air that couldn't be censored. It sounds like a swear--combining the less offensive parts of "jackass" and "asshole", throwing a bit of "jack-off" for good measure--but has nothing inherently offensive about it. It's a delightful Trojan horse that, if properly applied, can become contextualized.
"coward" -- sometimes you just go for the denotative term. I think it's too formal for modern use, but it's often my go-to when I need to call someone what they are.
"caitiff" -- Now here's a word that fits the need but no one uses. It's just sitting there waiting. And they sound great. "Caitiff" means "wicked man" or "scoundrel" in 1300, rooted in Old North French for "captive". A bit old timey and not exactly hitting the nail on the head, but I like the idea of someone captive to their own weakness. And with no current connotation, the slate is clean to appropriate it for our purposes.
"poltroon" -- another old-timer, for those who like the "p" sound in "pussy" and "pansy", here's one for you. It means "coward/scoundrel" and from Middle French. As far as I can tell, the deepest root of this word comes from "couch" or "pillow", which implies laziness, I guess?
"weakling" -- it's a word that's used today, but I so often seen it in video games, usually referring to minions or cannon fodder. That makes it not a strong candidate. The "-ling" suffix makes me think of a group (compare "zergling"). Another flaw is that it comes from Luther's "Weichling" which means "effeminate man", even though I don't think anyone associates that anymore.
So there are my new, cool, hip words. Spread them around like wildfire.
Labels: dictionary, insults, words