tit (stupid)

audiolaik

Senior Member
Polish
Hello,

The other day I was chit-chatting about this and that with a young Brit, and she told me that the word "tit" doesn't have to refer to a woman's breast or a type of bird. She explained to me that it might describe a stupid person. She also added that the word is definitely considered offensive.

Does the word under discussion really carry certain offensive connotations?

Thank you!

Audiolaik
 
  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I've never heard it as meaning "stupid," but we do have the AE colloquial term of "twit," as in "mindless twit" when referring to a number of U.S. young females who have achieved celebrity.

    "Tit" is almost always vulgar, but one exception is that apparently there's a bird called by that name. When I was working in a machine shop building laborabory equipment, many, many years ago, the term "tit" was used for a small protuberance of metal and had no biological or sexual connotation whatsoever.

    Finally, and as a very side note, our French friends usually are amused to see that in the U.S., we have a Big Tit (Grand Teton) National Park.
     

    Smithy73

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Being a native speaker of BE I can confirm that this is a vulgar term for a stupid person here. It is quite colloquial so it does not surprise me that the AE speaker does not use/has not heard of it.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Someone recently asked me what "T & A" stood for and I replied, "Small birds and large donkeys."

    I've heard our machinists refer to the small bit of metal left after turning a part on the lathe as a "tit" (which is resembles). Nothing nasty there.

    We also refer to electrical plugs as "male" or "female". Nothing nasty there.

    I was always taught that "teat" is acceptable; "tit" is slang.

    I've never heard anyone called a "tit" (with any sort of meaning--never heard it).
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Yes, 'tit' is mildly derogatory and dismissive. You probably wouldn't punch someone who called you a tit, but you'd secretly despise them.
     

    AngloSaxonSerf

    New Member
    English
    The phrase "he's a bit of a tit" is not quite so offensive as "he's a bit of an arsehole" but is more offensive than "he's a bit of a twit" in English.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    The phrase "he's a bit of a tit"
    Yes - I was going to add that I hear "tit" with this meaning most often in the phrase "bit of a tit". "He's a bit of a tit at times but really helped me when I lost my job". Panjandrum's definition seems good to me - it's not really stupid as in unintelligent but rather as in idiot.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I hear "tit" with this meaning most often in the phrase "bit of a tit"
    I hear it often in the phrase I felt a right tit! = 'I felt extremely foolish'. It's usually me saying it.
    Like previous speakers I don't consider it hugely insulting ... or offensive.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Thank you for sharing that with us, ewie.

    "Right" in "a right tit" clearly has the meaning "reinforcement" rather than "not left".

    Audio, your informant is right (= "not wrong"), though the laydees amongst us tend to avoid the expression.

    I take up my post as Headmistress of Roedean on Monday.
     
    Last edited:
    I used to know a very proper lady from Yorkshire who described one of her husband's colleagues as "He's a bit of a tit, is Arthur". And yet she and her husband happily socialized with this man. So I (an American) did not construe her usage to mean that the man was despicable and to be avoided; rather, I felt she was describing him as someone who was naive and misguided, maybe not excessively bright, even, yet full of blinkered confidence in expressing himself.

    In American culture, I think of someone like Gilda Radner's character "Emily Litella" on Saturday Night Live: She would rant and rave about some current issue that was bothering her... only to find out later that her basic assumptions were very wrong-- due to her own illiterate ineptitude-- and thus her whole stance was for naught... and she was wasting her and other people's time.

    Maybe in modern vulgar American slang, we might say that such a person is a "dickweed": self-important, yet ineffectual and misguided. Thus you must take anything they say with a pinch of salt.

    Yiddish has a great word for this type of person: a "shmegege": Someone self-important and anxious to be included, yet fundamentally misguided and ignorant, and thus to be ultimately discounted.
     
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    MrMuselk

    Senior Member
    English - South East England
    There is a similar usage in England, where you call silly people a “boob”. The problem is, it has fallen out of use.
     

    Szkot

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I used to know a very proper lady from Yorkshire who described one of her husband's colleagues as "He's a bit of a tit, is Arthur". And yet she and her husband happily socialized with this man. So I (an American) did not construe her usage to mean that the man was despicable and to be avoided; rather, I felt she was describing him as someone who was naive and misguided, maybe not excessively bright, even, yet full of blinkered confidence in expressing himself.
    That sounds like a good definition for British usage. It could be used of someone who is self-important or does and says foolish things.
     

    MrMuselk

    Senior Member
    English - South East England
    No one said it doesn’t exist. I just said I’d never come across it in the UK. Which is hardly surprising, since it’s apparently an American usage: Boob | Lexico
    Are you sure? It’s used quite frequently in Biggles; aren’t the Biggles books British? (Also, I did say it’d fallen out of use, I just forgot to add that was mostly in the UK)
     

    MrMuselk

    Senior Member
    English - South East England
    No, it’s definitely boob. Just as lingo stands by her word, so am I.
     
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