Disparaging Words

Quotations concerning pigs,
lipstick, lace and acceptability

joking pigs

The porcine pundits will disagree even among themselves as to what is acceptable and what is not within our constantly shifting vocabulary.

When you find yourself concerned that you will be misunderstood by someone or some pig, consider this simple truth: modern scientific research into ‘swine improvement’ has shown that pompous references only dress up a brutish character, and sometimes, lipstick on a pig just isn’t enough. In those circumstances perhaps a lace hat is also in order.


The traditional view of the pig is that it is dirty and greedy: The Common Boar is, of all other domestic quadrupeds, the most filthy and impure. Its form is clumsy and disgusting and its appetite gluttonous and excessive.

The General History of Quadrupeds (1790). Principal text by Ralph Beilby (1743-1817), an English engraver in Newcastle upon Tyne, with engravings and additional text by Thomas Bewick (1753-1828), an English wood engraver best known for his animal and bird studies and credited with the 19 century revival of the art of original wood engraving.

Some men there are love not a gaping pig,
Some that are mad if they behold a cat,
And others when the bag-pipe sings i’th nose
Cannot contain their urine.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
English dramatist and poet. The Merchant of Venice (c. 1597), act. 4, sc. 1.

There have even been those who are allergic to pigs: A learned man told me… that he knew one in Antwerp, that would immediately swoon, as oft as a pig was set before him, upon any table where he was present.

Nathaniel Wanley (1634-1680)
English, Vicar of Holy Trinity Church, Coventry and an antiquarian. Wonders of the Little World, or A General and Complete History of Man (1678).

A pig is always a comical animal: even more so than is the case with a bear, which also impresses one with a sense of grotesque humor — and this notwithstanding the fact that both boar and bear may be very formidable creatures.

Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt (1858-1919)
26th President of the United States (1901-1909) and winner of a Nobel Peace Prize. African Game Trails (1910).

Venture out in public these days, and ten bucks says you’ll be drawn into a conversation about how clean, civilized, and downright intelligent pigs are. It’s all lies, of course. As Ann Tanzer discovered at this year’s World Pork Expo in Iowa, few things deserve their reputations as feces-snuffling hairless blobs more than do our curly tailed cousins — with the possible exception of the men who breed them.

Spy magazine.

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A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.