Below is another article from Janey Davies, sub-editor at Learning Mind. It deals with the word “jerk”–or more accurately, synonyms for that pejorative term that we can use in our writing. So, take it away, Janie.
By Janey Davies
Sub-editor at Learning Mind
Sometimes I want to describe a situation where a person is a complete jerk, but I don’t want to use that particular word. It’s not that I‘m being pretentious, it’s more that the word doesn’t quite fit the circumstances. It was only when I started looking for alternatives that I realized just how many synonyms for jerk actually exist.
Here are just a few of my favorites:
20 synonyms for jerk to use in intelligent conversation
The word bogan comes from British Australian slang and means a person who continually engages in drunken or stupid behavior.
- Boot Boy
If you ever see vandals mindlessly destroying or defacing property, you don’t have to call them jerks anymore, you can use a word that is more specific. A boot boy is a person that needlessly destroys other people’s property.
This is a British slang term for a stupid person. You hear people say ‘He’s a right Charlie’ and they will mean that he is a bit of a plonker. That he is stupid and silly but in a non-offensive way.
A chuff is a rude or insensitive person. Someone who is a boor amongst others. Chuff is also another word in British slang for the buttocks.
You might already know this word from ‘churlish behavior’. It can also mean a person who hates the human race, someone who is offensive, or a stingy person.
Do you know someone who is always joking around? A person that never acts seriously? Someone who is always acting the fool? They are always being silly? The next time you go to call them a jerk, just swap the word for dag instead. A dag is a joker who doesn’t know when to stop.
Someone who is a dill is an object of ridicule or criticism. Instead of saying ‘Look at that jerk over there, acting like a complete idiot’, you could use the synonym dill as a substitute for a jerk.
Most of us know the word divvy as a verb to divide or spread, but the noun has a different meaning. This is one of the kinder synonyms for jerk that you can use. It means someone who lacks intelligence.
Dork is a good synonym for jerk because it just sounds a little kinder when you use it in conservation. A dork is a clumsy, sometimes bad-mannered person. Say, for instance, someone bumps into you in a coffee house and you spill your latte and they don’t apologize. They would be a dork.
If the person you want to call a jerk is acting in a strange or unconventional way, you could call him or her a gink. Gink means someone who holds weird views and acts in bizarre ways.
Do you know someone who never seems to make the right call? Do they always appear to lack judgment? They cannot make good decisions? You might want to stop calling them jerks and substitute the synonym meatball instead. A meatball is a person who lacks common sense or good judgment.
Have you ever called someone a jerk because they are so insignificant or small? Or that their views were unimportant to you? Next time use this synonym for jerk instead. Nerk means minor or trivial.
Nointer comes from Australian slang and means a mischievous or wild child. Or a reckless and rash person. So if the person in your situation behaves in a reckless manner, you can substitute the word jerk for the synonym nointer.
I’m sure we’ve all come across a few ockers in our time. An ocker is a particularly aggressive or uncouth boy or man. Just imagine a closing time at your local bar or club. It can also mean a person, usually male, with bad manners.
A prig is a great synonym for jerk, especially if you are looking for a word to describe someone who likes to spoil other people’s fun. A prig believes they are superior to everyone else. They are right and you are always wrong. They are self-righteous bores.
Putz is a Yiddish word that literally means penis, but if you’re looking for synonyms for jerk, it applies. You can swap jerk for putz if you want to describe a loser, a stupid, ineffectual person. Someone that is lazy or a person you can put the blame on easily. A person easily ridiculed.
A radge can have a few different meanings, but in terms of synonyms for jerk, it means a wild person who is difficult to control. It can also mean someone who is mentally-challenged and prone to hurt others. Radge is also defined as a very cruel and wicked person.
This is a Scottish word that means a slow-witted, foolish, clumsy, or sulky person. A blockhead, a soft person, an idiot.
This word has several meanings but in the context of synonyms for jerk, it means to display a lack of courage. So if someone has been a jerk by running away from danger then you could call that person a varlet.
You would use this synonym in place of jerk to describe the newly wealthy who flash their money around in a vulgar way. A vulgarian is a person who acts like a jerk in a vulgar way but is not aware of their vulgar habits or ways.
Sometimes the word jerk just doesn’t quite cut it. If you’re ever looking for synonyms for “jerk” to use, I hope you find my list useful.
Learning Mind is a blog created by Anna LeMind, B.A., with the purpose to give you food for thought and solutions for understanding yourself and living a more meaningful life. Learning Mind has over 50,000 email subscribers and more than 1,5 million followers on social media.