Definition of insult in English:


See synonyms for insult

Translate insult into Spanish

transitive verb

[with object]
  • Speak to or treat with disrespect or scornful abuse.

    ‘you're insulting the woman I love’
    • ‘They were also said to be regularly insulted and physically abused by the owners.’
    • ‘Carl is insulted, humiliated and ignored on a regular basis and yet keeps coming back for more.’
    • ‘So is there any hope that the broadcasters will stop insulting our intelligence?’
    • ‘Well the nation has had to put up with weeks of its intelligence being insulted by those who claimed we were wrong to act.’
    • ‘They have insulted our war dead and probably do not even realise it.’
    • ‘Political violence is often a resentful backlash to a group's sense of being insulted or humiliated.’
    • ‘Eileen Murphy, who has lived there nine years, said people were fuming and insulted by the slur.’
    • ‘It insulted his intelligence and made him wonder why he went to college in the first place.’
    • ‘I wonder what sort of business he's involved with, if he doesn't need to worry about insulting women?’
    • ‘Lists are just a cheap, uninspired and valueless way of filling column inches and insulting readers.’
    • ‘The players are insulting the hard work put in to keep the club alive.’
    • ‘My problem is with stupid, ignorant and insulting queries like the one posed above.’
    • ‘I'm not big on censorship and I will only delete a posting if it contains insulting language.’
    • ‘Try having people insulting you every single day, and tell me how long you can last?’
    • ‘Howard has been not only honest but clever in not insulting voters with tricky talk.’
    • ‘Not only are they taking money out of our pockets but they are insulting us.’
    • ‘As a statement of defiance, it was more effective than insulting a head of state.’
    • ‘It was the cruel and insulting nature of that particular rant that so annoyed me.’
    • ‘He said he became angry after his girlfriend was insulted by the two accused men.’
    • ‘He insulted me and repeatedly pushed my shoulder, hoping to goad me into hitting him.’
    • ‘When villagers tried to put the cones back, they were insulted by some motorists.’
    • ‘It is the first time in years that someone has been taken to court and penalised for insulting the monarch.’
    offend, cause offence to, give offence to, affront, abuse, be rude to, call someone names, slight, disparage, discredit, libel, slander, malign, defame, denigrate, cast aspersions on, impugn, slur, revile, calumniate
    abusive, rude, vulgar, offensive, wounding, mortifying, humiliating, disparaging, belittling, derogatory, depreciating, deprecatory, disrespectful, denigratory, uncomplimentary, pejorative, vituperative
    View synonyms



/inˈsəlt/ /ɪnˈsəlt/


  • 1A disrespectful or scornfully abusive remark or action.

    ‘he hurled insults at us’
    • ‘he saw the book as a deliberate insult to the Church’
    • ‘You know your comment about there being more jobs in America then ever is a real stupid remark and an insult to hourly workers of America.’
    • ‘My remarks were not an insult to decent youths or their parents.’
    • ‘With respect, this remark is an insult to the intelligence of your readers.’
    • ‘I strongly feel that what has been written about him in your paper is a slur on his character and an insult to his profession, and that you should apologise to him in writing.’
    • ‘A string of vitriolic insults were hurled at the referee who should have at least administered a yellow card for diving if he felt a penalty was the wrong decision.’
    • ‘It's grossly invasive and humiliating, an insult to the dignity of any person.’
    • ‘This is the crowning insult to a lifetime of perceived slights and insults, which exist nowhere but in his head.’
    • ‘With Australian spies among their number, they face a season-long barrage of insults and sly remarks if the world champions add the Captain Cook Cup to their trophy haul.’
    • ‘The arch tastemaker meant it as a compliment, but barbed remarks and outright insults have dogged her throughout her career.’
    • ‘Many took his remarks as a racial insult.’
    • ‘As she said this, she glared at John-Paul, as if her remarks were an insult.’
    • ‘The implication that parenting under pressure is an invitation to abuse is an insult to the integrity of millions of hardworking mums and dads.’
    • ‘It is tempting to refuse to answer those who have nothing to contribute but rude remarks, insults, and attempts to accuse others of things never said.’
    • ‘The conduct that has come to light is an insult to the people, and an affront to the most basic standards of morality and decency.’
    • ‘It is an insult to the primary producers of this region to be snubbed by any Minister, let alone one who supposedly represents their industry.’
    • ‘This was a blatant insult to Russia and an affront to the whole free world.’
    • ‘Problems included loud music, out-of-control dogs, residents being assaulted and abuse and insults hurled at people in the street.’
    • ‘He's been a never-ending source of insults and putdowns, to keep the hecklers at bay and the fans in stitches.’
    • ‘The Vietnamese perceived this disrespect as an insult to the entire village.’
    • ‘The man came around from his counter and began yelling insults at me.’
    abusive remark, jibe, affront, slight, snub, barb, slur, backhanded compliment, injury, libel, slander, defamation, abuse, disparagement, depreciation, impugnment, revilement, humiliation, indignity, insolence, rudeness
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A thing so worthless or contemptible as to be offensive.
      ‘the present offer is an absolute insult’
      • ‘This Minister has introduced a bill that is an absolute insult to the cause he should be serving.’
      • ‘He said the charity's grant was an insult to his mother, who had tirelessly raised funds for it before her death.’
      • ‘The distraught parents of Adele, who died last year, said the fine was an ‘absolute insult to us and to the memory of Adele’.’
      • ‘What an insult to every mother in the country that Budget was!’
      • ‘As one steward said, ‘The offer is an insult.’’
      • ‘A teabag is an insult to tea connoisseurs.’
      • ‘The present old age pension compared to today's average wage is an unforgivable insult and an absolute disgrace.’
      • ‘But, of course, that is completely untrue, and, in the context of this bill, an absolute insult.’
      • ‘They have now been offered a 1 percent rise to pay for the additional costs, and that is a total and an absolute insult.’
      • ‘That is, in my view, an absolute insult, given the importance of this legislation.’
      • ‘The latest insult to local councillors is the plan to deprive them of any say in the health of the nation.’
      • ‘The policy was an affront to our values and a needless insult to our friends.’
      • ‘If you are going to have nurses on call, the pay is an insult.’
  • 2Medicine
    An event or occurrence that causes damage to a tissue or organ.

    ‘the movement of the bone causes a severe tissue insult’
    • ‘For this reason, various environmental insults that damage intestinal tissues also lower the levels of lactase.’
    • ‘Although a second traumatic event may serve as abreaction or a cure for some dissociative amnesic states, this seems unlikely in the event of two severe neurological insults.’
    • ‘Tissues exposed to one insult can develop tolerance to a subsequent injury.’
    • ‘As the physiologic insults to each organ system accumulated, the outcome for this patient became worrisome.’
    • ‘Any insult to this tissue in the future will not be endured in the same manner as normal tissue, resulting in cancer.’



/ˈinˌsəlt/ /ˈɪnˌsəlt/


    add insult to injury
    • Act in a way that makes a bad or displeasing situation worse.

      ‘to ask our members to accept a pay cut adds insult to injury’
      • ‘And it's not just the money - bad pay just adds insult to injury.’
      • ‘Mixing your drinks adds insult to injury and increases the amount of toxins you have to cope with.’
      • ‘It is already hard enough to sit in a traffic jam without Begg wishing to add insult to injury by asking motorists to pay extra for the inconvenience.’
      • ‘To add insult to injury, the transport authority also attempts to increase bus fares and eliminate the monthly pass.’
      • ‘The site should be reopened, the hoarding is appalling and adds insult to injury.’
      • ‘This latest £4 million loss just adds insult to injury.’
      • ‘For Scarlett himself, the architect of that mistrust, to be promoted into the top job merely adds insult to injury.’
      • ‘The fact that nobody has accepted responsibility for this adds insult to injury.’
      • ‘Adding insult to the injury, it appears that not only is Red incapable of singing, he also apparently can't speak English.’
      • ‘Adding insult to injury, the banks have the gall to say that consumers are to blame.’


Mid 16th century (as a verb in the sense ‘exult, act arrogantly’): from Latin insultare ‘jump or trample on’, from in- ‘on’ + saltare, from salire ‘to leap’. The noun (in the early 17th century denoting an attack) is from French insulte or ecclesiastical Latin insultus. The main current senses date from the 17th century, the medical use dating from the early 20th century.