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A taunt is a sarcastic remark, challenge, or insult intended to provoke a response of some kind from the one it is directed at. It can be compared to fighting words and trash-talk.

Taunts are also a genre of Folklore.


Verbal taunts

The act of taunting can be learned by observation and improvisation. It usually follows linear thought, correlating or building in some manner to the target of taunting. Things such as the victim's appearance, intelligence, mannerisms, education, background, past offenses, etc. can otherwise be insulted. When used in this manner, the effectiveness of a taunt at provoking a response varies depending on how the specific insult relates to its victim (or their sense of self), to what level of offense they regard the taunt, and how well the victim can control their emotions when responding.


Certain movements of ones body, are, in many cultures interpreted as a taunt. These can be expressed through the eyes, hands, fingers, head and other areas of the body.

For further Information on Gestures see: Gesture.

  • Loser Gesture

The "Loser" Gesture is used in some countries. This gesture is performed by raising the index finger and thumb of your right hand perpendicular to each other so that they form the letter "L". It is then placed onto one's forehead. It signifies that the person that this gesture is directed to is a loser.

  • "The Finger" Gesture

The "Finger" Gesture is a gesture consisting of a fist with the middle finger extended. It is universally understood as "fuck you" due to its resemblance to the penis. It is certainly thousands of years old, being referred to in Ancient Roman literature as the digitus infamis or digitus impudicus. Performing this gesture is also called "flipping the bird" in countries where "the finger" is used. In other regions, "flipping the bird" refers to the raising of the middle and index finger with the back of the hand directed at the recipient. It can also mean "Victor" in some countries, which is not to be mistaken for the "Peace" gesture, which is done with the palm facing the recipient of the gesture, but in Britain and some other countries it is an offensive gesture, equivalent to "the finger".

  • Clenched fist

A raised, clenched fist is used as a gesture of defiance by a number of groups. It is usually considered to be hostile, yet without any sexual, scatological, or notionally offensive connotations.

  • The Cutthroat Gesture

The "Cutthroat" Gesture is performed by drawing the hand, or a finger or two, across the throat. It represents slitting the throat with a knife, and means that the gesturer or someone else is metaphorically being killed. It is rarely if ever used literally to refer to death, though it is occasionally used as a theatrical threat ("I'm going to kill you"). The gesture earned a great deal of national notoriety in the NFL during the 1999 season in which several players did the cutthroat gesture.

  • The Tongue

Often sticking one's tongue out at another is seen as mocking the other. A variation of this is also known as blowing a raspberry. It can also be wagged in a manner suggesting cunnilingus when directed at a female. This adds sexual connotation and is seen as highly vulgar as well as having hilarious consequences.

  • Wanker Gesture

The "Wanker" Gesture is made with a loose fist (with all fingers forming a cylindrical shape) is made, and shaken up and down (or sometimes, back and forth) at the wrist, suggesting masturbation. A picture of the young Tony Blair, later the British Prime Minister (1997-2007), using the "Wanker" Gesture became widely available (although copyrighted) in 2007.

  • Dickhead Gesture

The "Dickhead" Gesture is made by holding a hand to one's forehead, the thumb and fingers usually forming a "C" shape, and then moving the hand forward and backward in an arc. The image suggested is a large penis growing out of the forehead.

  • Crotch-Grab

The crotch-grab is done almost exclusively by males. It is, as the name suggests, simply a grabbing of the penis and testicles. It is frequently done by members of hip hop culture.

  • The Chin Flick

A gesture is made by placing the nails of your fingers under your chin and flicking it out from under your chin

In popular culture

In Monty Python's Monty Python and the Holy Grail the French Knight taunts King Arthur and his companions with a series of increasingly ludicrous insults, culminating in "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries".

Versions of the Endemol quiz show 1 vs. 100 based on the United States version (Australia, and to an extent, France) are known for the contestants and mob taunting each other.

Similar game shows, such as Weakest Link, are built on taunting a defeated player.

Video games

Some video games feature the ability to taunt an opponent, whether the AI-controlled opponents of a single-player game, or real opponents seen in multiplayer. In the single-player context, a "taunt" command is used to draw the opponents' attention to the player's character such as Battlefield 1942; on the other hand, in a multiplayer context, a "taunt" command is essentially a virtual incarnation of a verbal taunt. In the context of wrestling or fighting games, a taunt may serve the purpose of building energy or stamina.

In games not featuring a dedicated "taunt" command, players have devised other ways, within the controls of the game, to taunt or harass opponents of other skill levels. In a racing game, for example, a player far in the lead might come to a stop before the finish line to watch their competitors to catch up, only to accelerate again and take the checkered flag when the opponents draw near; whereas multiplayer FPS games have given rise to the practice of corpse humping, which involves the "crouch" command present in a typical FPS's control scheme.

In the online PC game sensation "World of Warcraft" (commonly referred to as "WoW") the classes of Warrior and Druid have the ability named "Taunt" and "Growl" respectively and used to focus the attack of an enemy non playing character (NPC) onto the Warrior or Druid who have used this ability. These classes also have an ability which focuses the attacks of all creatures in an area, commonly referred to as Area of Effect taunt (AOE). The Warrior ability is called "Challenging shout" and the Druid ability is called "Challenging roar". The Paladin class also has a taunt.

In the Super Smash Bros. series, characters have a brief taunt that can be performed by pressing a button. Luigi's is the only taunt that damages the foe. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, characters will feature 3 different taunts each.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Taunting" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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