It is often said that the British don't like showing emotion. It's certainly the case that - at least while sober - we do sometimes struggle to display affection towards our nearest and dearest, shunning gushy displays. A very common strategy for dealing with this emotional repression, however, which certainly baffles outsiders, is our tendency to show love through mild abuse.Hearing Brits refer to their family, friends, or even partners with seemingly offensive expressions may be surprising at first, but, more often than not, these are in fact affectionate, endearing terms. Here are five commonly heard'insults' that are actually pretty friendly – and will bamboozle any English speakers from outside of the UK。
'Billy' is a common shortening of the boy's name 'William'. King William IV (4th) in the 1800s was well-knownfor his rambling, nonsensical speeches and foolish manner, and so came to be known as 'Silly-Billy'. The phrase caught on, perhaps because of its catchy rhyme, and 'silly-billy' is now used as a term of endearment when someone's being a little daft. As in - 'He only started his essay this morning and the deadline's in an hour?! What a silly-billy!'
One of my favourites, as my Dad would use it pretty liberally towards me and my brother when we were children.Referring to a person who's done something silly without putting in much thought - perhaps 'Your homework's in the washing machine again?! You chump!'Apparently, 'chump' can be thought of as a mix of the words 'chunk' and 'lump'- so basically, things that are, like a chump, a bit dense。
According to the 'Online Etymology Dictionary', 'twit' was once a verb, meaning to blame or reproach someone. It then developed into a noun - unsurprisingly, describing someone that needed blaming or reproaching for being foolish. There's a popular children's book in the UK called 'TheTwits', which describes a really nasty old couple who just play tricks on each other. This may have brought the word into common usage, but its everyday application is still quite affectionate, used towards someone nowhere near as horrible as the characters。
According to a 2007 poll, 'numpty' is Scotland's favourite word, but it's also used throughout the wider UK. It supposedly derives from the now outdated word 'numps', meaning stupid. So, a 'numpty' is a bit of an idiot - 'She walked 3 miles to return the book but left it at home?! The numpty'。
Someone who's a wally is probably also a bit of a chump -they just haven't thought things through very well. The story behind its originis a little dubious, but urban-legend has it that, at a 1960s music-festival, a festival-goer (or, in some accounts, his dog) named Wally got lost. The search for him lasted all weekend, and left the entire festival audience shouting 'Wally! Wally!'. It must have stuck. Interestingly, the US quiz book 'Where's Waldo?' is called 'Where's Wally?' in the UK, probably because 'Wally' has the connotations of being silly, just like the book itself。