For this week's theme, let's look at various kinds of unpleasant characters.
vulgarian – an unrefined person, especially one flaunting newly-acquired power or wealth
To my mind, this quote offers a perfect picture of the concept.
– Peggy Noonan (columnist), Wall Street Journal, Sept. 28, 2007
Today's word is used more heavily in Great Britain than in the U.S.
lickspittle – a fawning underling; a toady (but more commonly used as an adjective)
The origin of lickspittle is obvious, I assume?
– MP George Galloway (replying to US Senate committee's charges that he received potentially lucrative oil allocations by Saddam Hussein's Iraq), in BBC, May 12, 2005
For the record, I am assuming that all of these disagreeable sorts are male. It's only fair.
Of course, Kalleh. As usual, your assumption is almost always correct.
grobian – a slovenly boor; a lout
Bonus word: parricide – the killing of [or the killer of] one’s own parent – usually the father – or other near relative
In The Ionian Mission by Patrick O'Brian, two diners discuss with wry irony the sailing crew they have hired. (O’Brian also used grobian with different humor in Post Captain, our second quote.)
. . . ‘There were many sad brutish grobians among those I examined,’ said Stephen, who was feeling disagreeable and contradictory …
. . . ‘Oh, of course there are always some odd fish … ; but this time we have very few downright thieves: only one parricide …; and after all he will scarcely carry on his capers here – he will scarcely find another father aboard. …’
Yet he was nowhere near being solvent, and … it seemed inevitable to him that others too should see him as Jack Aubrey, debtor to Grobian, Slendrian and Co. for £11,012 6s 8d.
I'm guessing that slendrian is a Scandinavian form of schlendrian.
Grimms' dictionary suggests that it is from the German verb schlendern 'to loaf, slack' plus the mock Latin ending -ianus 'sombody who'. There's a cross reference to grobian which is also a German word, 'brute, churl, ruffian; peasant, rustic'; influenced by grober Jan 'rough Johnny'.
—Ceci n'est pas un seing.
clodhopper – a clumsy, coarse person, esp. a rustic (also, a big heavy shoe)
As with lickspittle,, the origin seems obvious.
– Dallas Morning News, Oct .18, 1991
How did a politician once derided as a provincial clodhopper transcend such narrow visions to become what his image-molders depict as a statesman?
– New York Times, Sept. 16, 1995, speaking of Helmut Kohl
What do Felix Unger, Henry Higgins, and Minerva McGonagall have in common?
– New York Times May 19, 2004
Henry Higgins, the fussbudget linguist from the classic film "My Fair Lady" …
– Washington Post, Nov. 30, 2003
I am, I suppose, a fussbudget, although I prefer the term "nit-picker." Most of my adult life has been spent campaigning against apostrophe abuse,
– The Intelligencer (Doyleton, PA), May 30, 2004
When fussbudget Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) tries to teach [Harry Potter] to waltz, he's too mortified to blink.
– Buffalo News, Nov. 17, 2005
curmudgeon – an ill-tempered person (typically old), full of resentment and stubborn notions
– Dean Koontz, Watchers
While a curmudgeon could be a man or a woman, I think you hear more about men being curmudgeons. I very much like the word though; it's quite descriptive. I agree that it typically refers to "old" men.
We end our “Disagreeable Sorts” theme with the Scotsman’s name for folks from that insignificant and unpleasant country to the south. <Wordcrafter has tongue squarely in his cheek.>
Sassenach – Scottish & Irish; derogatory: an English person (adj. English
[Scottish Gaelic Sasunnoch, Irish Sasanach, from Latin for 'Saxons']
– Independent (UK), Sept. 29, 2007
The Welsh, who speak a language related to Gaelic, have a similar term: Saesnaeg. (NB, the English language is called Béarla in Gaelic.)
—Ceci n'est pas un seing.