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Insult and Invective

  • By: Simon J. Bronner
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Insult includes expressive genres of invectives, taunts, slurs, and retorts that have deprecatory content aimed at another person or group. Although these genres are linguistic, degrading gestures and graphics can also fall under the category of insult. Colloquial terms among different English-speaking groups that refer to insulting material often framed in social situations in which there is permitted disrespect include wisecracks, comebacks, putdowns, ranks, teases, slams, and dozens. The offensiveness of insults suggests that they arise out of anger and are intrinsically aggressive, divisive, or even violent. Yet many social situations exist in which insults are considered humorous, playful, and entertaining. Performing artists such as Don Rickles, Lisa Lampanelli, Sarah Silverman, and Andrew Dice Clay made careers out of insult comedy. In folk culture, stylized ...

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