Use the word "insult" when someone intentionally says or does something that offends another person. In some cases, the offense is accidental or unintended. Regardless of the circumstances, the result is the same: a person’s feelings are hurt. An insult can create problems between and among people.

In these examples, the word "insult" is a noun. Notice that the first syllable for the noun is stressed:

  • The insult was unintentional, but it still hurt her feelings.
  • His behavior was an insult to the host.
  • To add insult to injury,* it started to rain just as Tom began to change a flat tire on his car.
  • The young woman hadn’t intended to be rude, but her manner of dress was considered an insult to the people hosting the party.

In the next set of examples, the word "insult" is a verb. Notice the second syllable for the verb is usually stressed.

  • I’m sorry if I insulted you.
  • The teacher didn’t intend to insult her student, but the remark she made about his haircut hurt his feelings.
  • After Juan insulted his girlfriend in front of everyone, she slapped him in the face.
  • Those were insulted by something you said. (This sentence is in the passive voice.)

Use the word "insulting" as an adjective:

  • We find this to be quite insulting.
  • That comment was insulting.
  • An insulting, anonymous comment was posted on the message board.
  • To show one’s middle finger to another person is considered an insulting gesture in the United States.

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June 24, 2013

Last update: November 29, 2017