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Get to the Point

Elegant Insults

By Theda C. Snyder
elegant insults

Elegant Insults: Sometimes you can slip in the verbal dagger without the victim understanding what you’ve done.

When your brain knows just the right word, you can be more concise. And sometimes you can slip in the verbal dagger without the victim understanding what you’ve done.


When you want to say the defendants in the medical malpractice case just don’t give a damn, you can label their procedures insouciant. Insouciant translates from French as “uncaring.” Insouciance encapsulates the essence of negligence.


The law is a learned profession, right? So you would never call your opponent a liar. But you might assert that their arguments are specious.


You (and the judge) have heard this (specious?) argument a hundred times. It’s trite. It’s boring. You could say, “Counsel’s banal assertion does not justify the position set forth in this case.” This word is correctly pronounced as many as three ways, though the preferred pronunciation rhymes with “canal.”

Other Verbal Daggers?

Do you have an elegant verbal dagger you especially like to thrust? Please leave a comment telling us your choicest lingual weapon.

Illustration ©

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Categories: Communications Skills, Get to the Point, Legal Writing
Originally published February 13, 2017
Last updated July 2, 2023
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Teddy Snyder Theda C. Snyder

Theda “Teddy” Snyder mediates civil disputes, workers’ compensation and insurance coverage cases, including COVID-19 related coverage disputes, in person or by video. Teddy has practiced in a variety of settings and frequently speaks and writes about settlements and the business of law. She was a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and is the author of four ABA books, including “Women Rainmakers’ Best Marketing Tips, 4th Edition” as well as “Personal Injury Case Evaluation” available on Based in Los Angeles, Teddy can be found at and on Twitter @SnyderMediation.

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