3

Recently I followed a meta discussion where one called another who was complaining about lots of different things a "ranting Poopy Head" and I was asking myself if that comment should be flagged as rude or offensive. English is not my native language. When I googled, there were unclear definitions like this in urban dictionary:

The single most offensive thing you can call someone. It's like the atom bomb of arguments...

So I had a look into Google images, where pictures like the following showed up:

enter image description here

I'm still ambiguous about the meaning. Is it meant belittled in a friendly way or is it indeed rude and offensive or does it depend on the context of the situation it grew out?

  • 2
    It is a hair offensive, but is the sort of epithet that might be used in a joking manner. Certainly there are far ruder things one might say -- the person who wrote that was, at the very least, attempting to choose as mild an insult as possible. – Hot Licks Jul 17 '15 at 13:38
  • 3
    In kid talk it's offensive, like 'stupid' is. For adults it is ironic/weak. Urban Dictionary is the poopy-head of crowd-sourced 'knowledge' (it's a load of crap mostly) – Mitch Jul 17 '15 at 13:41
  • 3
    As the "inner child" caption on one of those pictures might suggest, this is a very young child's insult. How far the (adult) name-caller mitigates the insult by thus infantilizing himself or herself is open to debate. – Brian Donovan Jul 17 '15 at 13:42
  • 3
    Yes to context, context, context. Absolutely any word at all can be meant to be belittling, rude and offensive. You purple daffodil. – RegDwigнt Jul 17 '15 at 13:45
  • 2
    @RegDwigнt That's not very offensive... unless... shocked ... you bastard! – Mitch Jul 17 '15 at 13:52
6

It is a hair offensive, but is the sort of epithet that might be used in a joking manner.

Certainly there are far ruder things one might say -- the person who wrote that was, at the very least, attempting to choose as mild an insult as possible.

| improve this answer | |
  • 4
    This one wins! A poopy head definitely makes for offensive hair! Unless one is bald, that is. – Drew Jul 18 '15 at 5:44
7

It's a children's insult, used by adults only ironically or in an effort to be deliberately childish.

It would be considered a very serious and offensive insult among children, so when used by an adult, it combines hostility with playful self-mockery --a way to say something offensive with little danger that anyone will actually be offended (it wouldn't be possible to respond without admitting to comparable childishness).

It's comparable in register to saying "she's got cooties!".

| improve this answer | |
  • Yes. It is essentially a way to say, "I don't agree with you, but I'm being ineffective and childish about it, rather than analytical." Arguably more insulting to the utterer than to the target. – T.E.D. Jul 17 '15 at 19:47
  • Technically, cooties are much more difficult to rid oneself of than is a poopy head. – Drew Jul 18 '15 at 5:45
2

It's also very North American. To outsiders, it appears to belong to that class of childish US euphemisms that include "hiny", "buns" and perhaps, "cooties". Cringe-worthy when coming from adults. As a euphemism, it's probably an attempt to avoid the offensiveness tag you want to apply, but ends up being worse than a cruder term for other reasons.

| improve this answer | |
  • We yanks are a childish bunch, no matter the age. It's well known. Nyaaaa! – Drew Jul 18 '15 at 5:47
0

It literally means, "You're an irrationally screaming shithead." Loud. Nonsensical. With excrement for brains.

But its force is undercut by the ridiculous use of "poopy," a euphemism for excrement that only a small child would use as a serious insult.

You'll have to check to see if either party, the insulter or the insulted, is laughing. Context is everything.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    It doesn't 'literally' mean that... I don't believe all those people for all these years have been saying I am loud and nonsensical as well as having excrement for brains. – Avon Jul 18 '15 at 0:57
  • @Avon In your case, I'm sure it was strictly figurative. – deadrat Jul 18 '15 at 1:20
  • Me too because I'm just so not that and ANYONE WHO SAYS OTHERWISE CAN SHOVE THAT COCONUT RIGHT UP THEIR PYJAMAS AND SEE IF I DON'T!!! – Avon Jul 18 '15 at 1:38
0

It may be offensive, according to context, so you have to be careful in using it. The following extract may help understand its story and usage:

  • Before poopy-head entered the lexicon, we called stupid people manure-head and shit-head. In the 1932 Broadway play The Great Magoo, one character insisted, “By God, no manure-head’s gonna stop me,”.

  • The first known instance of poop head, according to the OED, was Rebel Without a Cause (1955): In both the play and the movie Buzz Gunderson calls two adults a “couple old poop-heads.” Even then the term poop was relatively new, having evolved at the end of the 19th century from an onomatopoeia for the sound of pooping.

  • The modern poopy—meaning excrement—came later, around 1970. In the 1950s and 1960s poopy actually described those who were like a poop, which meant a stupid person. The first appearance of poopy cited by the OED is one of these usages, from a 1957 issue of The New Yorker, which described “some nice old poopy elder statesman.”

  • One of the earliest recorded instances of poopy-head actually uses the phrase as a pet name: On Valentine’s Day 1983 a romantic declared his love for his sweetheart in The Springfield Union by writing “I LOVE YOU Poopy Head.” Three years later, self-help author Wayne Dyer wrote a column suggesting that parents learn to play with their children by calling them “a poopy-head once in a while in jest.”

  • By the 1990s poopy head was described in the Illinois newspaper The Pantagraph as a popular childish insult on the same level as “booger-face, butt-head and snot-brains.”

  • Norquist is not the first to speak of “calling someone a poopy head” as shorthand for political mudslinging and name-calling. A 1994 article in the Dayton Daily News also compared running negative campaign ads to calling your opponent “a big fat poopy-head.” The term first appeared in the New York Times in a similar context. In an article about how Wikipedia was protecting itself by imposing waiting periods before you could make changes, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales warned New York Times readers, “If someone really wants to write, ‘George Bush is a poopy head,’ you’ve got to wait four days.”

(www.slate.com)

| improve this answer | |
  • Excrement poopy was around much earlier than the 1970s. books.google.com/… – TRomano Jul 17 '15 at 14:18
  • @TimRomano - you mean in Cornwall ? – user66974 Jul 17 '15 at 14:27
  • Wright's English Dialect Dictionary (1905) cites the verb poop, defined in Latin (cacare) with the note "used of and by children", giving Warwickshire, Wiltshire, and Cornwall as dialects where the word is used. – TRomano Jul 17 '15 at 17:18
  • Agreed - that's sound advice: be careful how you use "poopy head"! It can even be worth taking a junior-college course or two to learn the ins and outs of its proper use. There is also a good book on the subject, but I can't recall the exact title - maybe "Poopy Head Faux Pas"? – Drew Jul 18 '15 at 5:51
-1

It is indeed rude, offensive and you, yourself, should never use it in any context. But, if someone uses it to refer to you, laugh and change the subject. (My apologies to the purists on this site for not having a scholarly reference.)

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.