Hi there, you are listening to Professor’s school of English slang
I’m Rick and today’s topic is Slang meanings for animal names.
Within English slang, we often use the names of animals to mean other things. Animal names can mean so many different things. But today we will just focus on what they mean if you directly call someone an animal name. For example, if I say you are a pig, or you are a snake? What does that mean?
Ok let’s start with Pigs. Pigs have a reputation for eating anything and being fat. So if I say “you pig”. I am calling you greedy. Most often it’s to do with eating. So you may be in a restaurant and you may see your friend eat so much food. You can say “you pig”. Or if you live with many housemates, you may open the fridge and all the food you bought yesterday is gone. You may say “ok, who is the pig who ate all my food”. You can say this word to be cheeky and fun with friends. However, if you call a stranger a pig, then it may be insulting.
The next animal we will talk about is chicken. If someone calls you a chicken it means they are calling you a coward. A coward means someone who is not brave and who is scared to do something. So for example I may try to convince my friend to do something, and he may say he doesn’t want to. And I can say “don’t be a chicken”. Which means don’t be scared. Another example is I can say “my friend really likes that girl, but he is too chicken to talk to her”. It just means he is too scared to talk to her.
The next animal is deer. A deer is a sweet loving animal. So girls often call each other deer to be nice to each other. For example, “deer Rachel, would you like to have dinner with me”. Or a girl may say to another girl “she is really such a deer”. It means the girl she is talking about is very kind.
The next animal is Donkey. A Donkey is an animal like a horse. It is not very intelligent and is used for hard farming work. Most often to carry heavy things from one place to another. But if I say “you donkey” it means I’m saying you are stupid or you are an idiot. For example if you do something silly like fall off your chair and hurt yourself then I can say “you donkey”. If you think someone is always an idiot you can tell your friend “that guy is such a donkey”.
Dinosaurs are not alive anymore, so we use the word dinosaur to mean very old. For example, if you see a really old guy you can say “he is such a dinosaur”. But most often dinosaur means someone who is not up to date with technology. For example you can say “he is such a dinosaur, he doesn’t know what Facebook is”. Or “she is such a dinosaur she can’t even use the internet”. So dinosaur in this case means you are not up to date with modern things, modern technology. Please don’t call an old person a dinosaur directly to their face as English people don’t like to be reminded when they are old.
Ok let’s talk about worm. If you call someone a worm it is an insult. If often means that you are calling them pathetic. Pathetic kind of means useless but in a more insulting way. “For example, a woman may say to a man “why would I want you, you are such a worm”. This would be very mean, so I wouldn’t encourage anyone to say this.
Ok. A shepherd is what we call someone that looks after sheep .And Sheep always follow the shepherd. So if I say “you are a sheep”. It means that I’m saying you just follow what other people say and you don’t think for yourself. For example if you believe everything the newspaper says without question I can say “you are such a sheep”.
Snails are believed to be the slowest animals. So if I say “you are such a snail” it means that I am saying that you are slow. This can be said in many different situations. For example, if someone is taking a very long time eating their dinner, I can say “I can’t believe you are still eating, you are such a snail”. Or if you are waiting to go out and your friend is taking a really long time getting ready, maybe putting on her make – up, you can say “hurry up, you snail”.
Let’s talk about a mouse. A mouse is a small animal that always runs away very quickly. So if I say “you are a mouse” it means I’m saying you are scared. In fact it’s the same as calling someone a chicken. There is an English saying which people say to people if they are trying to persuade them to be brave. It goes “are you a man or a mouse?”
Woman often say it to their boyfriends if they want them to be brave about something. For example if someone is afraid of asking their boss for more money someone may say “just do it, are you a man or a mouse”. Or if a boy is scared about asking a girl on a date, his friend may say to him “are you a man or a mouse just go and speak to her”.
Toads are similar to frogs but are considered to be much more ugly. Therefore, if a girl says to a boy “you are a toad”. It means she is saying he is very ugly. This is a word to describe boys only and not girls. Boys cannot say a girl is a toad. Girls may chat altogether and one may say “what do you think of that boy”. The other girl may say “no I don’t like him at all, he is a real toad”. This means that she thinks he is very ugly.
In English slang boys say dog to describe a girl as ugly. For example boys maybe talking altogether about girls and one may say “what do you think about that girl.” the other boy may say “ah no, I don’t like her, she is a complete dog”. Although toad and dog are very unkind words which I wouldn’t encourage any of you to use, It is important I teach you them so you can understand what they mean.
Another unkind word is Cow. Again this word is used to describe girls, but can be spoken by boys or girls. For example if I say “you cow”, it means I’m saying you are a horrible person. It is often said in situations where a girl has done something mean on purpose. For example if you waved at a friend in the street and she pretended she didn’t see you, she ignored you in public, so you may say to someone else “she is such a cow, she just pretended she didn’t know me when I said hello”. Another common term is “you miserable cow”. This means that a person is just being really miserable and unkind. For example if you took someone out for a nice day and they just moaned all day at everything, finally you may get angry and say something like “stop being such a miserable cow”. Or if someone in the supermarket served you but didn’t smile and spoke very harshly to you. You may say to your friend “that woman was such a miserable cow”.
Pussycats are pet cats and are considered not dangerous at all. Therefore, if you say “he or she is a pussycat” it means you are saying that they are not harmful. It’s often used when describing people that act tough but deep down are soft and kind. For example, someone may say to their friend “I know he acts mean, but once you get to know him he is a pussycat really”. Or my boss acts so tough, but really he is just a pussycat”. So it means deep down, he is really kind.
Giraffes are the tallest animals with their long necks. So if I say “you are a giraffe” it means I think you are unusually tall. So if you see someone tall you can say to your friend “wow look at that giraffe”. Although this is not really an insulting word, it’s not very nice to be called a giraffe either as it means people think you are too tall.
English people consider snakes to be difficult to see and very dangerous. So if I call you a snake it means that I’m saying you are the type of person that is dishonest or not honourable. You will pretend to be nice to me or on my side and then when I’m not looking you will betray me. For example I can say to my friend. “Don’t trust him, he is such a snake”. Or I can warn my friend “if you are going to do business with him, you must watch him very carefully because he is such a snake”. So basically you can call people that are dishonest or not honourable snakes, especially when they are pretending to be very nice.
Another word for someone who is dishonest is rat. However, rat means someone who has actually betrayed you by revealing some information. So for example, someone who gives the police information is often called a rat. You will often hear this in gangster movies. For example “I went to prison because of that dirty rat”.
Rat can be used when someone has directly betrayed you. So for example if you have a boyfriend and he sleeps with another girl behind you, then you can say “you dirty rat”.
I am not sure why but the animal fox is used to describe a sexy woman. For example, if a man thinks a woman is sexy he can say “wow she is a real fox”. This just means he thinks she is very sexy. Or you can say “that is one foxy lady”, which means the same thing.
Ok, Leeches. Leeches are basically worms that suck the blood of humans or other animals. So in English slang we use this word to describe people that just use other people for their selfish reasons. For example, if someone just marries a girl because she is rich and he doesn’t really love her, then we can say “he is a leech”. Because he is only using her for her money. Another example, if you find out someone is only pretending to be friends with you so you can help them with their university work, then you can also describe that person as a leech.
Ok the last animal we will talk about today is a tiger. A Tiger is very powerful animal. Therefore, in English slang we call people who are very forceful, tigers. For example, if someone is aggressive and has a lot of energy when they talk we can say “she is a real tiger”. If someone has a lot of energy and is trying to persuade you of their point very forcefully, you can say “calm down tiger”. Meaning you are telling them to be less forceful.
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