Where does the word “insult” come from and What does insult mean in Latin?

The literal sense of the Latin insulto, from which the word “insult” is derived, was to leap at or spring upon a person or thing.

A wild beast might spring upon its prey, ready to tear it apart; a soldier leap at his foe, prepared to take his life.

But the ancients realized that they could tear a person apart, in a figurative sense, by a torrent of abusive words, or kill him with scorn and abuse, and thus insulto acquired such a figurative meaning, giving rise to the sense in which we use insult.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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