L in the Southeast

L in the Southeast
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
November 04
Retired PR Director
I am a retired Public Relations professional who now writes purely for fun and catharsis. I covered most of my memoir-type pieces in the first three years here. Lately I have dabbled in politics, current affairs, pop culture and movie reviews. Life is my muse.


L in the Southeast's Links

JUNE 15, 2012 1:51PM

What Did a Douchebag Ever Do to You?

Rate: 41 Flag


douchebag real


Everybody seems to have accepted the term as a way to describe a jerk, a cad, a boor, an asshole or a dweeb.

When was dirtbag – a term I could wrap my brain around, given its obvious reference to the unwashed and disgusting – replaced by the ubiquitous low-blow designation of douchebag?

I wonder if half the people running around calling each other that have a clue about the actual item they’ve employed to bitch-slap some poor slob for being a pri…er, a di…well, a not-very-nice-person. 

Ah, maybe that’s it!  So many of the popular putdowns have been references to male body parts, none of which have a comparable piece of apparatus to change the PH balance of said part, some guy probably decided to even the slaying field by enlisting an otherwise innocuous tool of feminine hygiene.

What a minute!   Tool?  Isn’t that another name we like to call people who are infinitely pitiful, obnoxious, out-to-lunch losers? 

Come to think of it, speakers of the English language (and probably every other language on earth, but I don’t know that for sure and I don’t want to be a douchebag about it) have created a list of unflattering (to say the least) terms to call one another that could probably stretch from here to the next county. 

When I was a child, I tried very hard not to be a doo-doo-head, something I learned from the little brats who ran around like wild indians causing all kinds of trouble.  Out on the front porch every evening, my grandfather would shake his head and mumble about the cowboys who were driving their cars too fast to keep safe the little brats he happened to love .

As a teen, the hoods (short for hoodlums) would run their hands through their Brylcreemed DAs (duck’s ass) and sneer out of the sides of their downturned mouths and call me a social climberOnly our mothers referred to girls other than their own daughters who were somewhat loose as sluts. We called them cool!

In college, my pejorative vocabulary soared.  The shit -for- brains GDIs (god damned independents) thought we sorority girls were lunch buckets who had to get our fraternity member boyfriends to take our exams for us. Those lunchy Alpha Chis they called us, the little twits. On a given Saturday night, just about all of us were out of it from drinking too much brewski.

As an adult I have seen dweebs morph to geeks, geeks become nerds, social climbers turn into yuppies, and for my kind, buppies. There were gangbangers, thugs, bikers, biker-chicks, and hos; not to mention the boatload of racial and cultural slurs that continues to grow as the social segments of our collective brains seem to shrink.

When I was a career counselor in the giant corporation I was employed by, I used to put employees through an exercise, asking them to make a list of their strengths or talents and a separate list of their weaknesses or developmental needs.  I could predict with 99% accuracy the list of negatives would be at least twice as long as the list of positives.

Negative self-talk is almost as common as creating nasty names to call one another.  Why is that?  Have we somehow been taught to dwell on our faults?  Is it a matter of simple transference, that thing that makes us want to come up with zany and nonsensical zingers to toss at and about others?

I don’t think this is a new phenomenon.  On the contrary, we Americans seem to have come by it honestly.  Take a look at some of the British pejoratives I found, just under the ‘b’s in this British slang dictionary:

big girl’s blouse: n chicken (as in person who is afraid, not as in bird). Exclusively applied to men: After we’d had a couple of beers we all jumped off the bridge into the lake, except Andy, who turned out to be a big girl’s blouse.

bird: pron. ‘beud’ (London); ‘burd’ (Scotland) n woman. Well, not really. Bird is used by blokes looking upon the fairer sex with a slightly more carnal eye. It’s not quite at the stage of treating women as objects but the implication is certainly there: I shagged some random bird last night (a popular usage), or: Hey, Andy, I think those birds over there are looking at us. You’d never describe your grandmother as a bird. It’s popular in Scotland to refer to one’s girlfriend as “ma burd" but do it in front of her and you’ll be choking teeth. About the only thing worse would be to call her “ma bint,” which will warrant a foot in the testicles and a loose tongue concerning your sexual prowess. The word itself is derived from the Old Norse word for “woman,” and the closest American English equivalent would probably be “chick.”

bloke: n guy. A bloke is a Joe Public, a random punter, ”any old fellow off the street. Unlike “guy,” however, it can’t apply to your friends. You can’t 'walk up to a group of your mates and say ‘blokes, what’s up?” as they’d all peer at you as if you’d been reading some ill-informed, cheap dictionary. Without question, the most common usage of the word is in the phrase “some bloke in the pub.” 

Think about it.  How many nouns can you come up with that refer to a positive aspect of a person?  Things like trouper, mensch, team player, sweetheart, etc.


Inspiration for this post came from Cranky Cuss's delightful commencement adddress

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I've always been partial to the term "Fucktard" but before enlisting I used "Dipshit" quite a bit.

As to what did a douchebag ever do to me? I could tell you a funny story about that, but it's very unplesant and inappropriate.

I'm not sure I'm ready, besides.
Hummm....maybe it's because the negative names are so much funnier than the positive. Funny story: Someone once referred to me as a mensch in a comment and I thought I had just been slammed. Embarrassed to say, I had to look it up.
Doug: Phew! When you ARE ready, I'll bet it will be a humdinger! Dipshit is one of my favorites -- in polite company I say dipstick. :D
David: LOL! I'll bet you aren't the only one. I've spent most of my life around Jewish people, so it is a common one to me.
Great post. Have to give this some thought. I'm always partial to "nerd" myself.
A highly enjoyable essay, and an interesting point. I've always thought the 'douchebag' insult was sexist.
Well, I learned some good ones! Words for good things? Hmmmmmm...mmmmmmmm...Hmph, guess I'm the negative type...wait, good egg! Yeeha.
I like to run up to random people and give them a slip of paper.

The paper is blank.



Oops, wrong post!! Damn it!!

Amy: Nerds are the new black...er...I mean...are "in." :D

bb: Thanks.

Matt: You, the guy with the gigantic vocabulary?????? Shut the front door! :D
Tink: Hah! Go back to sleep, kitty.
You are one righteous chick, L! R
I think brainiac is a nice thing to call someone. And around here we have to code douchebag as delta bravo.
Poopie-head has been my go-to for, like, ever........

My favorite word to call a really terrific person is a "mensch." I love that a friend of mine, (who shall remain nameless) had to look it up when I referred to her son as one.
I think most people who use the term have never seen one. I'm old enough to remember them hidden away in the bathroom.
It was winter....ah, I can't do it. Later.
I like it when my best friend calls me a Jammie Dodger - a biscuit with a heart shape cut out and sweet stuff inside. That's me alright. I love this post. Really, I mean, douche bag???
I'm gonna drive to the grocery store now. I hope a f#%*wad doesn't cut me off.
I suspect the popularity of "douchebag" in part comes form the influence of Yiddish language on American comedy. Douchbag shares a sound with a lot of Yiddish insults.

Words combing consonants and dipthongs (e. g. schtick, schmuck, Kvetch, Kitsch) get associated with a Lenny-Bruce-ish type comedy.

I don't hear many "positive aspect" nouns in my vicinity. Now you've get me thinking, I'll probably get Shpilkus from worrying that I am becoming an Alter Kaker or a Nebish, oy.
My favorite pejorative phrase comes from the good old boys back in Texas, "...dumber than a box of rocks." More than once I've done or said something just plain stupid and heard that beauty aimed in my direction... still makes my ears turn red.
Many carnal terms are sexist, on either side of the bed. And, while we are not sophisticated enough to stay out of the realm of the low, words like "douche-bag" (or its abbreviated "douche") will continue to be found culturally.
I like your idea of coming up with a list of positive names for jobs well done, and for good people.
Never heard that big girls blouse one before.
I like douchebag and tool and make much use of them whence referring to the bevy of tools and douchebags that I'm dealing with.
Much fewer nice words for sure. That's because venting and ranting about those who upset us is more pressing than describing a keen sport of good egg kind of person.
Fine essay, Lezlie.
One word you left out was "scumbag." It's become so acceptable, even though most people don't know its true meaning (condom), that it caused controversy when it appeared in both a "Blondie" comic strip and a New York Times crossword puzzle. In both cases, the creators thought they were using slang and didn't realize it was a vulgarity.
One of the great early SNL skits. I THINK it was Bill Murray, announcing British royalty. Including LORD AND LADY DOUCHE BAG!

As to the list of positive nouns? There is actually Gallup data showing you are right. It was the genesis of the book "Strengthsfinder 2.0"
Thoth: Oh how I like it when you call me a chick! Makes me feel young. :D

Miguela: :D

Midwest Muse: Brainiac hurled my way as a definite pejorative in high school. I guess it depends on who’s saying it.

Jon: Poopie-head is the polite version of doo-doo-head, dontchaknow.

Joanie: Yiddish is full of great terms.

Con: That old, huh? LOL

Doug: It’s okay, we’ll wait. :D

Pandora: I’m sorry, but Jammie Dodger sounds to me like someone who sleeps in the nude! lol

another steve s: Hahahahahahahahaha!

jmac1949: My sister says that one all the time. She also taught me Stuck on Stupid.

Pea Dubb: The list will not be as long, sadly.

fernsy: Imagine what it would be like in the reverse, difficult as it is to imagine. Thanks..

Cranky: I had no idea that “scumbag” meant condom! Ewwwwwww!
Chi: I remember that skit! Thanks for the book reference.
I watched that douchebag hanging up when I was a kid, and could never figure out what the hell if was for. You would fall down laughing if you knew some of the things I was thinking it was used for.
I much prefer "Mutherfucker". Rolls right off the tongue.

Great post!
Scanner: No I wouldn't. I had the same thoughts. I remember being afraid to ask. :D
Christine: LOL! Thanks for stopping by.
people who know me well know i LOVE to cuss... i blame that repressed catholic school upbringing.

my 2 most oft used & personal favorites are: 'bumboclaat' ... which i picked up from a Jamaican pal ages ago, and the more recently acquired 'ass-hat'. i have even been known to call someone a bumboclaat ass-hat...
lorianne: bumboclaat...I just googled it, so I know what it means but it sounds like Dutch or something similar. I happen to have a special fondness for the newly found "ass hat" myself. I wonder where that originated?
Actually Dougs word has become a new fave of mine for some unknown reason.. I used to use the word DOOFUS.... Hmm still do..:)
I figured "asshat" was a euphemism for the other vulgarity that starts with "ass".
After I learned the true meaning of the word "squaw" a long time ago, I stopped using it under any circumstance.

In Latin America, there are more words for the vagina than any other body part. I can't list them all here, but, trust me, they are considerable, and they vary from country to country and they become fodder for some really great cross-cultural misunderstandings.

Examples: "Chicha" can refer to a rice-based fermented or unfermented drink in many parts of Latin America, especially in the Andes. And, you guessed it, it's also a stand in for "vagina."

So, in Venezuela, if you say "¡Me rasparon la chicha!" it means "They stole my chicha (beverage)!" If you mean it the other way, it means "They shaved my V-Jay-Jay!"

Then there is the Mexican term "panocha," which can refer to a delicious wheat pudding or a vagina. As you can imagine, the term gives rise to many chuckles when it is used in culinary circles.

In Brazil, "Cuca" is a common woman's name. In Venezuela, it is slang for vagina, or can refer to a molasses-based cookie.

So, Venezuelans smile any time a Brasilero says, "¡Hola, Doña Cuca!" (Hello, Madame Cuca!)

I'll leave the rest to your imagination ...
Linda: I still use Doofus , too. I think it reminds me of my childhood when my mother would call my sister and me “Goofus Rufus.”

Matt: I keep trying to picture a hat attached to an ass! Like in donkey? Hee hee
Another good Brit term is "Yob" ("boy" spelled backward). Collectively "yobbos". Means about the same as "lager louts" -- ie, thugs. Or dirtbags. Or scumsuckers.
my favorite is ....."he/she is so dumb,if breathing didn't come natural....they'd suffocate..
Deb: I'm laughing my ass off. I've had a little experience with the idiomatic differences among Spanish-speaking countries. In high school I learned Castilion Spanish and learned it well enough to "proficiency out" of the language requirement in college. Many moons later, I was assigned to my company's Community Relations outreach in San Francisco, including the Latino community. I decided to enroll in a total immersion at Berlitz. Because my teacher was from Colombia, let's just say we had more than a few misunderstandings for awhile there. :D
Boanerges1: Didn’t that get Americanized in some parts of Massachusetts or close? Boyyos?

Steel Breeze: LOL. Now THAT’s dumb.
An exchange student from Barcelona loved our idioms and 'scumbag' was one of her favorites. I asked her to teach me to say it in Spanish, but she said there was no equivalent. "Bag of trash" was as close as she could get. Interesting that in Latin America, lady part words are also tasty foods, like puddings and cookie!
Let's see, growing up in the MD-DC area there was ass-breath, shit for brains & dipshit. I once lived in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood so I heard and sometimes used terms like putz, schmuck, dreck and a Yiddish-English amalgam, dreckhead. I used to hear DC blacks use the term bama-assed, but I never heard a white person say it. When I moved to Chicago there was jagoff. Profanity is a certain poetry to it, but it is ever changing and I do consult the Urban Dictionary from time to time.
All these years I thought people were calling me a "Dutch bag." Thanks for clearing this up.
Colorful language, is, well, colorful...I like it when I am feeling colorful although the main word in your title is not a choice one for me....
I'm learning all kinds of things here. It's not a noun, but I remember trying to explain to my girls that maybe they should quit saying "sucks" all the time.
Strange, sometimes, the origins of these words? And sometimes the usage of words vary; when I first met my husband, he told me about his 6'5" friend who was so excited to move to the U.S. because "he could finally find dresses that fit." Took me six months to realize that in India, "dress" means "clothing". Until I figured that out, I had an image in my head of a huge Indian guy in a frilly dress!
"Bumboclaat" - love it!

I know what douche-bags are for and I even tried one, back in my teens, when I also tried high heels, doing stuff with my hair, and smoking maybe a dozen cigarettes. Very happy that douchebags are no longer considered a good thing. Ditto heels, frying one's hair and smoking. Laziness has saved me from many stupid things. (Not all, however.)
great fun. you're right, of course. derogatory terms come effortlessly. I'm straining for flattering ones. Oh well, in Singapore, where I grew up, I think the worst insults referred to private parts, particularly a woman's. The more innocuous "crocodile" referred to a male sexual predator.
greenheron: Did you read Cranky’s comment about the origin of scumbag? He says it refers to a condom! Who knew?

Bob: Instead of ass-breath, I remember dog-breath in the Chicago area. And you know I’m familiar with putz and schmuck.

John: Sorry to break it to ya, buddy! :D

Sheila: I sure don’t know how colorful it is.

jlsathre: You know, that one has always bothered me a little, too.

postmormongirl: That’s a great and funny story!

Myriad: Hahaha. You are such a character!
maria: Crocodile is perfect for that!
Kate: The British seem to have all the bases covered, don't they?
Dumbass is a fav, but I like dip shit. Some times to say someone has their head up their ass. I think there was an excellent example of that in a literal way here not long ago.

Funny post, I love your dedication to research.
Asia: Yeah, that was Cranky's post referring to Ed I Tor looking for the OS cover. haha
Like Doug, I like Fucktard and used to use Fuckface in my email address book for my ex-husband until he informed me that he could see it in my email messages...Honestly! I did not know, but he deserved that name.
My daughter used to call everyone a douche, she had no idea what it meant. I told her and she was pretty grossed out.
I also still think sluts are cool, but then again they used to call me an airhead back in the day.
Lucinda: LOL! Are you SURE you didn't know he could see that?
Learned a lot here, L. Deborah in particular is a fount of information! It's amazing how commonplace the word douchebag has become, even among kids and I mean young kids. When my younger two started saying it I was shocked but I didn't correct them because they were saying "juice bag". For the longest time they called each other juice bags when they were mad and I let them because it sounded so funny.

And you're right, there aren't too many words that refer to positive aspects of a person compared to negative. "Good egg" like Matt mentioned but that's not said too much anymore. A "peach"? A "stand up guy"? Also, I can't think of even one positive term that's specific to women, not a single one.
I swear just enough to keep me respectable but there are lots of terms I don't use. That includes asshole, asshat, fucktard, douchebag and scumbag. I learned about the latter from the Fugs' classic hit Saran Wrap. "Rip it off, wrap it up, stick it in.
After the prom, when you ain't got no scumbag,

Some common pejoratives would be dipshit, twit, jerk and idiot. Nothing to original but you can spice them up with adjectives like credulous twit.

And I always thought "wanker" sounded pretty funny but it took me a while before I realized how vulgar the Brits considered it.

Deborah's comments reminded me of a faux pas I once made. The shellfish conch is concha in Mexico and I used the word in Argentina without realizing that it was an extremely vulgar term for, well, you guessed it.

The Aussies have some funny slang too and if Kim drops in maybe he can provide some examples. Two I remember from a quarter century ago are Sheilas, their equivalent to the British "birds", and pillow-biters for gays. I'm sure they're more enlightened now.
My original comments were totally off-topic, but posted in the spirit of good fun. ... After thinking about my favorite "slam" word for a man, all I can come up with is "bobo" or "tonto," and both mean "dumb" in Spanish. (Yes, Hollywood gave a TV Indian a name that meant stupid in Spanish. Someone should have done their homework.)
My new word, in snarky fun, mostly said inside my mind while driving, appraising the navigational and road sharing skills of others, is twatwaffle. Apparently, a synonym for douchebag, if you google it.
As for enemas, they are likely more refreshing than the opinion of a twatwaffle. One of them reduces the likelihood of being completely full of shit.
Dickhead is one of my favorites and I don't know why...actually I...never mind. Just never mind. Leaving now. R and hugs.
I'm wondering if you've come across the term "bourgie" (the R is silent). I haven't heard it in years.
Margaret: LOL! Juice bag! That’s hilarious.

Abra: I have never heard that song. In fact, I’ve never heard of the Fugs! Saran Wrap sounds like a mistake waiting to happen, though. lol I always thought Sheilas was a pretty benign generic term, like “dollies.” Good thing I’ve yet to get to Australia!

Deb: That “someone” who decided to name Tonto, sidekick to the Lone Ranger, failed to do a lot of their homework.

Oryoki Bowl: I am assuming “twatwaffle” is reserved for women, yes?

Zuma: See ya later. lol!

Kosh: As a matter of fact, that one has also been hurled my way from time time. Although it is meant as a pejorative, I don't mind being in that category as opposed to the one the accuser is usually a part of.
In high school the worst thing we could call someone was a "simp". The opposite was "cool". They are the only ones I remember.

Guys who wore DAs were Greasers and came from St. Paul. In Minneapolis we dressed rather preppie & were called Baldies. I have no idea why.

In college we called sorority girls sorority girls, but with a sneer because, you know, they were just working on their Mrs. degree.

I found one of those implements in the bathroom drawer one time and asked my mother what it was. The woman with 9 children said I didn't need to know until I was married and had a few kids. I suppose she meant it was a birth control device.

All time favorite: my nieces at age 4-5 to their brother: poop-face pig head. Or was it pig head poop-face? Either way. Classic.
nerd cred: Baldies? I don't think what I'm thinking is right...or...maybe. Little kids do learn the disgusting nature of poop very early, don't they?
Lezlie- I watch a lot of BBC. Twat and c**t are used for men, often, as well- they mean fool, idiot, horrible stupid person (other than the other meaning. Douche means wash, btw). Brits will use other words, like duff and fanny, but they maybe aren't so pejorative, when referring to the female fancy bits. So, don't mention your fanny pack, and don't ask to quaff a Duff.