Calling a woman “Madame Bovary” (or “潘金莲” in Chinese) might sound like an atas compliment, but it actually means slut. That’s because Madame Bovary is the title of a French novel where the titular character sleeps around and over spends because she is bored, or as the Wikipedia entry puts it so eloquently, “to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life”. You might even call “Madame Bovary” a uniquely French/Chinese insult!

But this is Singapore – we don’t have to resort to obscurely unique foreign insults to scold our enemies (and more often, our friends). We’ve got a heaping pile of insults and curses that nobody outside our fair island will understand. So when you’re overseas, use these insults to satisfyingly diss someone without offending them. You’ll be secretly smirking away as the other party walks away, none the wiser.

1. One quarter fish three quarters duck

One quarter fish and three quarters Psyduck doesn't quite work. Credit: Pokemon Go Facebook Page

One quarter fish and three quarters Psyduck doesn’t quite work. Credit: Pokemon Go Facebook Page

If you’re below the age of 19, you’ll immediately get this. It’s not referring to a chimera, if you’re wondering. It’s actually referring to the spelling of the words themselves, which are both four-letter words. To put it more accurately, you’re actually saying “the first quarter of the word ‘fish’ and the last three quarters of the word ‘duck‘”, which gives you…

But we’re too classy to actually type that out here. Besides, there are kids reading this!

2. Itchy backside

Even dogs have itchy backsides. Credit: Doggie Fun & Fitness Facebook Page

Even dogs have itchy backsides. Credit: Doggie Fun & Fitness Facebook Page

It’s an euphemism for someone who cannot sit still, because their backside is so itchy that they need to keep getting up to scratch it, explaining the movement. It also implies someone who likes to stick their nose into other people’s business, since their backside is so itchy that they must find something to do, lest they have to sit down again and make that itch worse.

It’s particularly satisfying because it conjures up an image of a person with a huge, flabby butt that has a contagious red rash across it. There’s no better way to curse someone right?

3. You think I thought who confirm?

Deep thoughts. Credit: Mikaal Zulfiqar Facebook Page

Deep thoughts. Credit: Mikaal Zulfiqar Facebook Page

A favourite of army regulars, this is a variant of “assume makes an ass out of u and me”. It works so well because it implicitly lays the blame on the person that is the recipient of this phrase, even though logically the fault is due to the negligence of both parties. A fantastic retort to this is “how come you never confirm?” but since it’s probably a superior saying this to you… better not to try it.

4. Bus first, bus second, bus _____

Green is such a terrible colour. Credit: Behold Our Outstanding Buses Singapore Facebook Page

Green is such a terrible colour. Credit: Behold Our Outstanding Buses Singapore Facebook Page

It can also be used as a trick to make someone say a bad word (orhhhhhhhh I tell teacher) but it’s equally funny to hear someone go to such lengths to curse someone, since it’s actually quite a mouthful. Another favourite is “how do you say chicken white in Chinese” but that’s not quite as much of a zinger as an insult. Part of the charm, of course, is that it sounds like an IQ pattern recognition question.

5. Pattern more than badminton

Nice badminton... racket. Credit: Badminton Galaxy Facebook Page

Nice badminton… racket. Credit: Badminton Galaxy Facebook Page

Speaking of patterns, this phrase suddenly came back into vogue a few years ago, especially with the advent of social media. It’s a funny way to say that someone is dramatic and/or scheming for no other reason than the fact that “pattern” rhymes with “badminton”. It’s possibly one of the most appropos-of-nothing Singaporean insults that we have because, really, who uses badminton as an insult?

Seriously, whoever came up with this should have tried harder. “Pattern more than a slattern” would have been so much more awesome because a slattern is a Madame Bovary. “Pattern more than Wimbledon” would have made more sense. “Pattern more than Saturn” would have been cooler. Anything except badminton!

I Am Not Madame Bovary. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

I Am Not Madame Bovary. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

So how does the insult “Madame Bovary” come up in I Am Not Madame Bovary? In a plot that sounds suspiciously Singaporean, our heroine Lian (Fan Bingbing) and her husband Qin want to buy a second apartment that’s only available to singles (wish Singapore had this policy). They divorce to circumvent the law, but when Qin acquires the apartment, he marries someone else instead! When Lian confronts him, Qin calls her a Madame Bovary, setting into motion the events of the story.

Does Lian get her HDB flat apartment back? Find out in I Am Not Madame Bovary!

 

Credits: Pokemon Go Facebook Page, Doggie Fun & Fitness Facebook Page, Mikaal Zulfiqar Facebook Page, Behold Our Outstanding Buses Singapore Facebook Page, Galaxy Fitness Facebook Page, Golden Village Cinemas