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There are many expressions describing a person in a deprecative or insulting way because of his bad properties or behaviour, which today would more or less trigger a laugh if someone called you that way, e.g.:

  • Taugenichts
  • Tunichtgut
  • Halunke
  • Bösewicht
  • Nichtsnutz
  • Lump
  • Schuft
  • ...

How come, that so many expressions lose their strong meaning which they surely had in earlier times when it was major being called that way?

share|improve this question
"Halunke" is one of my favorite words, especially when paired with "garstig": "Garstige Halunke!" But maybe that's just me. – Joachim Sauer Feb 29 '12 at 21:03
Is it just me or is "Schuft" commonly associated with citing old movies where furious women empty their glass of water (or wine) into some guy's face? (fair warning: link to – Jan Mar 1 '12 at 15:58
Ich würde nicht sagen, dass diese alle lustig klingen - seltsam durchaus, aber nicht notwendig lustig. – user unknown Mar 2 '12 at 5:17

(This is just my personal theory so I might be horribly wrong.)

Language is changing constantly so you can find examples for words that lose their meaning in any field.

Maybe depreciative descriptions are especially vivid, because a lot of those terms are invented by adolescent people. I can imagine that a 16-year-old is not really willing to use the same insults his grandpa uses as they are "not cool". On school yards millions of those terms are used and some manage to spread wide enough to become the new "standard" as the people get older.

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You are horribly wrong. Language never changes ;) – John Smithers Feb 29 '12 at 10:34

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