Posted by: victanguera | August 17, 2011

Etymology as Insults: Writing Prompt #348


1. Conducive to or suggestive of good health and physical well-being.

2. Conducive to or promoting moral well-being.

Back when I was still married, my ex had the idea that the roots of the word wholesome gave it a completely different meaning. One not quite so wholesome. And he’d use it as an insult on people. Not a very effective insult in the end as he invariably used it correctly even though he meant the opposite. Kind of like this definition from the Urban Dictionary:


adj. antonym of sick or tite, something that is dull or a term used to describe a girl that is neither hot nor ugly.
Wow, Mrs. Buerhle’s lecture was pretty wholesome.

Your new girlfriend is pretty wholesome.

The weird thing is he did this long before Urban Dictionary even existed.
So for today’s prompt, think of a word one of your characters (it doesn’t have to be the main character or even a protagonist) uses as an insult. Do they use the word correctly? Is their insult based on the deeper etymology of the word that the average person wouldn’t know? What kind of reaction do they receive when using this insult? I’d love to see the insultee pull out the etymology of the word and discourse about the meaning of the word. Could give good comic relief in a tense scene.

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