British people often consider the French to be masters in rudeness. But the British are quite adept at trading insults too. This British-made chamber pot with a bust of Napoleon dates from 1805. It can be viewed in the Royal Pavilion Museum at Brighton.

Napoleon chamberpot, 1805

Napoleon chamberpot 1805

A sample of French insults was published recently by web-based news site The Local:

“Bête comme ses pieds” – A literal translation would be “As stupid as his feet”, or “Thick as a plank”. The French version appeared in the early 19thC and seems to symbolise feet being furthest from the brain.

“Ta mère est tellement petite, que sa tête pue des pieds” – translation: “Your mother is so small, her head smells of feet”.

“Boudin” – normally the word for “blood sausage”, it can be used to mean an ugly woman or an old hooker. Use with care.

“Lavette” – translates as “dish cloth”, but can also mean a girl lacking courage and energy.

“Andouille” – another sausage insult. Here it means someone who is careless or lazy.

“Tête de noeud” – literally “knothead”. English version “dickhead”.

“Espèces de merinos mal peignes” – or “badly groomed sheep”.

“Blaireau” – this word for “badger” is also used for “asshole”.

“Casse couille” – which translates as “ball-buster”, means “pain in the ass”.

“Tu parles Français comme une vache espagnole” – literally translating as “You speak French like a Spanish cow”.

Maybe Monty Python should have the last word on French insults:

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