Hands Off Me Booty! Pirate Insults!

Pirate life was tough. Between the constant threat of foreign attack and the physical and mental demands of life on board the ship, tensions ran high. Pirates are not famed for their sweet-temperaments nor their patience upon meeting a confrontation, such that throwing insults back and forth punctuated pirate speech. Besides pirate insults sounding highly comical in a modern-day setting, they can be the cherry on top of your fancy dress outfit to really get into character. Here is a run-down to ensure you’re prepared with a savvy response to all situations you may encounter as a pirate.

Here are some cool pirate insults to try:


Used even today to describe a comical and fun-loving character, ´rapscallion´ was bestowed upon those naughty ´Jack Sparrow´-esque rogues. This name was reserved for the most playfully mischievous of pirates. A fairly low-key pirate insult.

Galley Slave

A ´Galley´ ship was a type of long and lean pirate ship. As criminals forced to row the ship from below deck, Galley Slaves were physically and ethically the lowest of the low. To call someone this would be a hard hitting pirate insult.

We’ll rip and burn yer jolly roger!

The ´Jolly Roger´ refers to the classic pirate flag boasting a skull and crossbones. This emblem represented the unity of a crew and sent a fierce message to challengers. To burn the opposition´s Jolly Roger would signify the utmost lack of respect, defeat and all-out war. 

Scabby sea bass

A stalwart of pirate vocabulary used to essentially to call your antagonist a rotten old fish! A funny but effective pirate insult by today’s standards.

Dance with Jack Ketch

This seemingly innocent leisure pursuit with Mr. Jack Ketch is actually an extremely euphemistic way of condemning someone to the gallows pole. The real Jack Ketch was an English executioner, made infamous by his botched attempts to behead his criminal victims.

Dead men tell no tales

The solemn message here is that the dead cannot relay secrets. It is an implicit warning that those who might know too much information will not be spared.

 Hands off me booty!

´Booty´ in this pirate context refers to money and jewels (not a big bottom) obtained through the criminal pursuits of plunder and pillaging. Hands Off!! This is a term you might find yourself using from time to time in a modern setting.

Ye lily-livered!

There was a medieval belief that the liver was the organ which controlled emotions and also found itself as the center of one’s courage. The word ´lily´ summons notions of the very pale color worn by the flower. A person with a white or ´lily´ colored liver would have a bloodless liver, which according to medieval ideas would signify a lack of courage or in other words, a coward. This was a pirate insult you would not want to hear.