Invective Examples


When a writer or speaker uses words that insult, disparage, or attack a person, place, or thing, it is called an invective. Invectives are used to share deep, negative emotions, and the language is so strong that it can be characterized as abusive.

Examples of Invective:

From Shakespeare's King Lear:

A knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking, whoreson, glass-gazing, super-serviceable, finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir to a mongrel bitch: one whom I will beat into clamorous whining if thou deni'st the least syllable of thy addition.

From Swift's Gulliver's Travels:

I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.

From Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby:

He's so dumb, he doesn't know he's alive.

Excerpt from Diane Lockwood's Poem, "Invective Against the Bumblebee":

Escapee from a tight cell, yellow-streaked

sex-deprived sycophant to a queen,

you have dug divots in my yard

and like a squatter trespassed in my garage.

I despise you for you have swooped down

on my baby boy, harmless on a blanket of lawn,

his belly plumping through his orange stretch suit,

yellow hat over the fuzz of his head.

Though you mistook him for a sunflower,

I do not exonerate you,

for he weeps in my arms, trembles, and drools,

finger swollen like a breakfast sausage.

Now my son knows pain.

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