1. Education
Send to a Friend via Email




Jackie "Moms" Mabley (born Loretta Mary Aiken), 1894-1975


A rhetorical term for a litany of abuse--a series of critical epithets, descriptions, or attributes. A type of invective.

See also:


From the Greek, "a cutting" or "filth, nastiness"

Examples and Observations:

  • "If I had sufficient provocation to rail at the public, as Ben Jonson did at the audience in the Prologues to his plays, I think I should do it in good set terms, nearly as follows: There is not a more mean, stupid, dastardly, pitiful, selfish, spiteful, envious, ungrateful animal than the Public."
    (William Hazlitt, "On Living to One's Self")

  • "A vile beastly rottenheaded foolbegotten brazenthroated pernicious piggish screaming, tearing, roaring, perplexing, splitmecrackle crashmecriggle insane ass of a woman is practicing howling below-stairs with a brute of a singingmaster so horribly, that my head is nearly off."
    (Edward Lear, Letter to Lady Strachey, 1859)

  • "A custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black, stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless."
    (King James I, "Counterblast to Tobacco")

  • "My daddy liked him [so] I had to marry that old man. My daddy should have married him; he's the one liked him. [He was] the nearest to death you've ever seen in your life. His shadow weighed more than he did. He got out of breath threading a needle. And ugly! He was so ugly he hurt my feelings. He was so ugly he had to tip up on a glass to get a drink of water. He was so ugly he had a job in a doctor's office standing beside the door making people sick.

    "I never will forget when we went up to get married. We were standing up there in front of the man. The man looked at me and said, 'Will you take this man?' Some undertaker jumped up and said 'I will!'"
    (Moms Mabley, "A Moms Mabley Sampler." Ebony, Feb. 1988)

  • "[T]he American people, taking one with another, constitute the most timorous, sniveling, poltroonish, ignominious mob of serfs and goose-steppers ever gathered under one flag in Christendom since the end of the Middle Ages, and . . . they grow more timorous, more sniveling, more poltroonish, more ignominious every day."
    (H. L. Mencken, "On Being an American")

  • "The Republicans are not stupid. They tagged the liberals as 'latte-drinking, Volvo-driving, school-busing, fetus-killing, tree-hugging, gun-fearing, morally relativist and secularly humanist so-called liberal elitists,' as commentator Jason Epstein described it, soft on communism, soft on crime, opposed to capital punishment, and soft on the new war on terrorism."
    (Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News, 6 June 2005)

  • "I've got a staff meeting to go to and so do you, you elitist, Harvard, fascist, missed-the-dean's-list-two-semesters-in-a-row Yankee jackass."
    (C.J. Cregg in The West Wing)

  • Verbal Violence and the Rhetoric of the Rant
    "It represents a whole genre of political discourse: the rhetoric of the rant. This approach recently introduced the 'c' word into the national debate on gay marriage. It leads some spotlight-chasing conservatives to attack opponents as 'traitors' and to employ racist epithets. It is the dominant form of public comment on the Internet, where the pithy, personal, scatological attack has become a minor art form, rather like sculpting in excrement.

    "What I'm describing is not the blunt earthiness of the farmer or the unguarded political overstatement among friends. It is a practiced form of verbal aggression, combining harshness and coarseness to shock and intimidate. . . .

    "Verbal violence can leave people smarting for days, or scarred for years, or pushed like a vulnerable middle-schooler toward suicide. Such hostility is broadly and correctly condemned. Why does politics seem to numb this rudimentary moral sense?

    "The answer, of course, is the infectious nature of incivility itself. Every excess provides the excuse for greater and opposite excess--a search for more vicious put-downs and more startling obscenities. Avoiding this escalation is one of the primary challenges of the schoolyard and one of the important attributes of a citizen. Everyone has grievances; fewer have the courage of manners. All of us need more of it."
    (Michael Gerson, "The Rhetoric of the Rant." The Washington Post, May 15, 2009)
Pronunciation: de-LIG-me-uh
Also Known As: abominatio
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Grammar & Composition
  4. Grammar & Rhetoric Glossary
  5. Abbreviation - Buzzword
  6. bdelygmia - definition and examples of bdelygmia

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.