Mr. Language Man

I understand the etymology of “wingnut” — it’s obviously a diminutive of “right wing nut,” but works as an effective piece of slang because it also repurposes a common noun.

But what, in god’s name, is a “moonbat”? Let alone an “asshat”? I suppose the former must somehow vaguely have something to do with people being “batty,” but as for the latter, well, I’m just stumped. “Asshat”? Do rightwingers just sit around combining words at random to create new derogatory terms? “You, sir, are a real testicle-antennae! And you, over there — you’re a digestive-tract-picture-frame!”

I would spend more time thinking up funnier examples if this were for a cartoon, but you get the idea.

…okay, judging from first reader responses, “asshat” is a sort of illiterate and/or inarticulate attempt to suggest that your head is up your ass. I guess I missed it because it’s so clumsy — if you “are” an asshat, doesn’t that mean that someone else should be wearing you? Therefore isn’t someone else’s head up your —

— oh, never mind.

…and as for “moonbat” — sorry, that’s just stupid. The sort of thing that’s created by people who have heard of humor, but have no firsthand familiarity with it.

Further updates: various readers insist that “asshat” originated as a non-partisan slur, though the righties have clearly made it their own these past few years. And my friend Greg Saunders had some similar thoughts last year — and came up with two lists of random words so you can mix-and-match your own utterly meaningless right-wing insults. “Turd burglar”, anyone?