The verb is derived from Middle French insulter (modern French insulter (“to insult”)) or its etymon Latin īnsultāre, present active infinitive of īnsultō (“to spring, leap or jump at or upon; to abuse, insult, revile, taunt”), the frequentative form of īnsiliō (“to bound; to leap in or upon”), from in- (prefix meaning ‘in, inside, within’) + saliō (“to bound, jump, leap; to spring forth; to flow down”) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *sel- (“to spring”)).
The noun is derived from Middle French insult (modern French insulte (“insult”)) or its etymon Late Latin insultus (“insult, reviling, scoffing”), from īnsiliō (“to bound; to leap in or upon”); see above.
- Rhymes: -ʌlt
- Hyphenation: in‧sult
- (transitive) To be insensitive, insolent, or rude to (somebody); to affront or demean (someone). [from 17th c.]
- c. 1598–1600, William Shakespeare, “As You Like It”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene v], page 199, column 2:
- And why I pray you? who might be your mother / That you inſult, exult, and all at once / Ouer the wretched?
- 1609, Geo[rge] Chapman, Evthymiæ Raptus; or The Teares of Peace: […], London: Printed by H[umphrey] L[ownes] for Rich[ard] Bonian, and H. Walley: […], OCLC 222228174:
- The Foe hayles on thy head; and in thy Face / Inſults, and trenches; leaues thee, no worlds grace; / The walles, in which thou art beſieged, ſhake.
- 1748, [Samuel Richardson], “Letter XLIX. Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace, Esq.”, in Clarissa. Or, The History of a Young Lady: […], volume III, London: Printed for S[amuel] Richardson; [a]nd sold by John Osborn, […]; [b]y Andrew Millar, […]; [b]y J[ohn] and J[ames] Rivington, […]; [a]nd by J. Leake, […], OCLC 13631815, page 242:
- Nor would ſuch a man as thou art be deterr'd, were I to remind thee of the vengeance which thou mayeſt one day expect, if thou inſulteſt a woman of her character, family, and fortune.
- 1851 November 14, Herman Melville, “The Quadrant”, in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers; London: Richard Bentley, OCLC 57395299, page 553:
- Thou canst not tell where one drop of water or one grain of sand will be to-morrow noon; and yet with thy impotence thou insultest the sun!
- 1912, Fyodor Dostoevsky, “The Second Visit to Smerdyakov”, in Constance Garnett, transl., The Brothers Karamazov: A Novel in Four Parts and an Epilogue [...] From the Russian, London: William Heinemann, OCLC 5234211; republished New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company, 1922, part IV, book XI (Ivan), page 667:
- It was a wordy, disconnected, frantic letter, a drunken letter in fact. It was like the talk of a drunken man, who, on his return home, begins with extraordinary heat telling his wife or one of his household how he has just been insulted, what a rascal has just insulted him, what a fine fellow he is on the other hand, and how he will pay that scoundrel out; [...]
- (transitive, also figuratively, obsolete) To assail, assault, or attack; (specifically, military) to carry out an assault, attack, or onset without preparation.
- c. 1588–1593, William Shakespeare, “The Lamentable Tragedy of Titus Andronicus”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene ii], lines 1518–1520, page 43, column 1:
- Giue me thy knife, I will inſult on him, / Flattering my ſelfes, as if it were the Moore, / Come hither purpoſely to poyſon me.
- 1697, John Dryden, “The Third Book of the Georgics”, in The Works Of Virgil: Containing His Paſtorals, Georgics, And Æneis […], London: Printed for Jacob Tonſon, […], OCLC 403869432, lines 367–370, page 107:
- Not with more madneſs, rolling from afar, / The ſpumy Waves proclaim the watry War. / And mounting upwards, with a mighty Roar, / March onwards, and inſult the rocky ſhoar.
- (intransitive, obsolete) To behave in an obnoxious and superior manner (against or over someone). [16th–19th c.]
- 1609, “P. R.” [i.e., Robert Persons], “The First Chapter Ansvvering to the First of M. Thomas Mortons Three Vaine Inquiryes, Concerning the Witt, Memorie, Learning, Charitie, Modestie, and Truth of His Aduersarie, P. R.”, in A Qviet and Sober Reckoning vvith M. Thomas Morton Somewhat Set in Choler by His Aduersary P. R. […], [Saint-Omer, France: s.n.], OCLC 613979579, §IIII (Another Vaine Contention Brought by M. Morton about Skill in Logike), page 37:
- And doe you ſe how he inſulteth ouer me, as though hee had gotten a great aduantage, and how hee taketh heere his reuenge vpon me, for the ſhipwracke hee ſuffered before, in the matter of his ſyllogyſme?
- 1609, William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 107”, in Shake-speares Sonnets. Neuer before Imprinted, London: By G[eorge] Eld for T[homas] T[horpe] and are to be sold by William Aspley, OCLC 216596634:
- 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], “Against Pouerty and Want, with Such Other Adversity”, in The Anatomy of Melancholy: […], 2nd corrected and augmented edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 54573970, partition 2, section 3, member 3, page 273:
- (intransitive, obsolete, rare) To leap or trample upon.
- c. 1591–1592, William Shakespeare, “The Third Part of Henry the Sixt, […]”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene iii], lines 389–392, page 150, column 2:
- So looks the pent-vp Lyon o're the Wretch, / That trembles vnder his deuouring Pawes: / And ſo he walkes, inſulting o're his Prey, / And ſo he comes, to rend his Limbes aſunder.
- (uncountable) Action or form of speech deliberately intended to be rude; (countable) a particular act or statement having this effect.
- Synonyms: affront, diss (slang), insultation (obsolete), offence (Britain), offense (US), pejorative, slam (US, colloquial), slight, slur; see also Thesaurus:offense
- Antonym: compliment
- a. 1744, Richard Savage, “London and Bristol Delineated”, in Samuel Johnson, The Works of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland. […], volume V, Dublin: Printed for J. Moore, […], published 1800, OCLC 31182659, lines 41–46, page 259, column 2:
- Preſent we meet thy ſneaking treacherous ſmiles; / The harmleſs abſent ſtill thy ſneer reviles; / Such as in thee all parts ſuperior find, / The ſneer that marks the fool and knave combin'd; / When melting pity would afford relief[,] / The ruthleſs ſneer that insult adds to grief.
- 1835, Lt. Col. Baron de Berenger [i.e., Charles Random, Baron de Bérenger Beaufain], “Letter XII. On Character Generally, and on Manliness Especially.”, in Helps and Hints How to Protect Life and Property. […], London: Published for the proprietor, by T. Hurst, […], OCLC 156114472, page 179:
- [...] I will, however, enjoin you / Never to submit tamely to insults from any one! for, although I strongly urge you to show every possible respect and deference to all who are your superiors, as indeed due to them, I wish you to remember that, should they return you insults for such consistent conduct, it will be manly in you, after having given them a chance, by your calm and dignified remonstrance, to repair the injury, to resent the (by such an omission) enlarged offence, for thereupon no one can blame you if you firmly persevere in your efforts to obtain reparation.
- (countable) Something that causes offence (for example, by being of an unacceptable quality).
- 1907 October, Frances Hodgson Burnett, “Red Godwyn”, in The Shuttle, New York, N.Y.: Frederick A[bbott] Stokes Company, OCLC 270693, page 348:
- Such marriages he had held were insults to the manhood of any man and the womanhood of any woman. In such unions neither party could respect himself or his companion.
- 2011, Thomas Grissom, “A Note to the Reader”, in The Physicist’s World: The Story of Motion and the Limits to Knowledge, Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, →ISBN, page ix:
- The story we will share in the pages of this book, you as the reader and I as the author, contains a modicum of mathematics. I have used it sparingly, and judiciously, but to eliminate it altogether would have been dishonest, a form of intellectual deception and condescension, and an insult to your curiosity and intelligence.
- (countable, medicine) Something causing disease or injury to the body or bodily processes; the injury so caused.
- 1996, Ulf J. Eriksson, “Embryo Development in Diabetic Pregnancy”, in Anne Dornhorst and David R. Hadden, editors, Diabetes and Pregnancy: An International Approach to Diagnosis and Management, Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, →ISBN, page 65:
- The exact nature of the teratological insult in diabetic pregnancy, and the cell biological details of the induced disturbances, are not known.
- 2006, Joan Stiles; Pamela Moses; Brianna M. Paul, “The Longitudinal Study of Spatial Cognitive Development in Children with Pre- or Perinatal Focal Brain Injury: […]”, in Stephen G. Lomber and Jos J. Eggermont, editors, Reprogramming the Cerebral Cortex: Plasticity following Central and Peripheral Leisons, Oxford, Oxfordshire; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 415:
- [M]ost investigators agreed with the characterization of early brain plasticity as a transiently available, ancillary system that is triggered by neural insult, and that serves, most importantly, as a means of shielding the developing organism from the potentially debilitating effects of neural insult.
- 2011, Terence Allen; Graham Cowling, “What Cells Can Do”, in The Cell: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions), Oxford, Oxfordshire; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 96:
- Within the complex genome of most organisms there are alternative multiple pathways of proteins which can help the individual cell survive a variety of insults, for example radiation, toxic chemicals, heat, excessive or reduced oxygen.
- (countable, also figuratively, archaic) An assault or attack; (specifically, military, obsolete) an assault, attack, or onset carried out without preparation.
- 1697, John Dryden, “The Twelfth Book of the Æneis”, in The Works Of Virgil: Containing His Paſtorals, Georgics, And Æneis […], London: Printed for Jacob Tonſon, […], OCLC 403869432, lines 415–420, page 590:
- Then fir'd with pious Rage, the gen'rous Train / Run madly forward, to revenge the ſlain. / And ſome with eager haſte their Jav'lins throw; / And ſome, with Sword in hand, aſſault the Foe. / The wiſh'd Inſult the Latine Troops embrace; / And meet their Ardour in the middle Space.
- 1784, “From the Accession of James to the English Crown, to the Battle of Kilrush, in the Reign of Charles I”, in The History of Ireland, from the Earliest Authentic Accounts. […], Dublin: Printed for Luke White, […], OCLC 263174772, page 226:
- The government was continually expoſed to the inſults of a faction, and deſtitute of the neceſſary reſources.
- (countable, obsolete) An act of leaping upon.
- 1697, John Dryden, “The Third Book of the Georgics”, in The Works Of Virgil: Containing His Paſtorals, Georgics, And Æneis […], London: Printed for Jacob Tonſon, […], OCLC 403869432, lines 99–102, page 99:
- The Bull's Inſult at Four ſhe [the mother cow] may ſuſtain; / But, after Ten, from Nuptial Rites refrain. / Six Seaſons uſe; but then releaſe the Cow, / Unfit for Love, and for the lab'ring Plough.
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insult m (plural insults)