Gammon (insult)

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Gammon is a pejorative term popularised in British political culture since around 2012, which received press coverage in 2018. In 2018, it became particularly known as a term to describe middle-aged or older men on the political right or who supported Brexit.[1][2][3] The term refers to someone excitedly and wildly expressing a point with minimal detail, much bluster while exposing their ignorance on the subject under discussion; in particular, the colour of such a person's flushed face is compared to the type of pork of the same name.[1][4]

Charles Dickens used the word in broadly the same context in his 1838 novel, Nicholas Nickleby:[5]

The time had been, when this burst of enthusiasm would have been cheered to the very echo; but now, the deputation received it with chilling coldness. The general impression seemed to be, that as an explanation of Mr. Gregsbury’s political conduct, it did not enter quite enough into detail; and one gentleman in the rear did not scruple to remark aloud, that, for his purpose, it savoured rather too much of a 'gammon' tendency.

The meaning of that term—gammon,' said Mr. Gregsbury, 'is unknown to me. If it means that I grow a little too fervid, or perhaps even hyperbolical, in extolling my native land, I admit the full justice of the remark. I am proud of this free and happy country. My form dilates, my eye glistens, my breast heaves, my heart swells, my bosom burns, when I call to mind her greatness and her glory.[6]

In 2012, Caitlin Moran wrote that British Prime Minister David Cameron resembled "a slightly camp gammon robot" and "a C3PO made of ham" in her 2012 book Moranthology.[7][8][9][10]

In 2015, Ruby Tandoh called Great British Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood a "walking gammon joint".[9]

In 2017, children's author Ben Davis tweeted a picture of nine members of a BBC Question Time audience and referred to them as "the Great Wall of Gammon".[11]

In 2018, there was some debate in the British media around whether the term was racist or ageist.[3][8] Actor and writer David Schneider has argued that it is a reaction to name-calling by some on the right, including terms like "snowflake, cuck, remoaner, libtard, beta, SJW and triggered".[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Want to succeed as a middle-aged modern man? Google Kendrick Lamar". Evening Standard. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  2. ^ "Is the EU really plotting to switch Britain to 'Berlin Time'?". Metro. 5 February 2018. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Is it offensive to call ruddy-faced middle-aged Tories 'gammons'?". the Guardian. 14 May 2018. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  4. ^ "Oliver Twist/Chapter 31". Charles Dickens. 1867. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  5. ^ Elledge, Jonn. "Turns out, Charles Dickens invented the concept of "gammon" in 1838". The New Statesmen. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  6. ^ Dickens, Charles (1995). The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. Wordsworth. p. 184. ISBN 9781554433629.
  7. ^ Moran, Caitlin. 2012. Moranthology p.27
  8. ^ a b Serhan, Yasmeen. "Pork Legs Are Shaking Up British Politics". The Atlantic.
  9. ^ a b "Are You A Gammon? Decoding The Political Insult Of The Moment". Esquire. 14 May 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  10. ^ a b Sommerlad, Joe (15 May 2018). "Gammon: Why is the term being used to insult Brexiteers and where does Charles Dickens come into it?". The Independent. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  11. ^ "Ben Davis on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 21 November 2018.