It was in Crash Course World History. It is at 6 minute and 12 second. Here is the context:

We talk a lot of smack about taxes, but it turns out they are pretty important to creating social orders.

I have looked it up in the Oxford and a few other dictionaries, but it seems to me that no definitions they give fit.

  • 2
    – user3395
    May 3, 2018 at 10:46
  • 2
    When you're stuck and can't find the appropriate meaning of some word, first try searching for it in different dictionaries. These are good (learner's) dictionaries: ldoceonline.com, macmillandictionary.com, dictionary.cambridge.org. When you enter just smack, for example LDOCE (the first one) will show you all the different entries which contain the word smack: smack, smack of something, ..., talk smack, etc. The other dictionaries in that list offer the same feature in the sidebar (e.g., Cambridge has a More meanings of “word” section).
    – user3395
    May 3, 2018 at 11:45

1 Answer 1


In this context, Smack is slang, meaning:

Make boastful or insulting remarks, especially in order to demoralize or humiliate someone.

In this case, the sentence can be rewritten as:

We make a lot of insulting remarks about tax (as a population, in general), but it turns out they are pretty important to creating social orders.

The meaning of the sentence as a whole, is that while people tend to talk badly about taxes (as often, it's from the perspective of losing money you earned), there is a social benefit to them which this podcast goes into more detail on.

  • Sorry, but how does one make a lot of insulting remarks about taxes???
    – Lambie
    May 3, 2018 at 15:35
  • Insulting remarks could really be anything from just commenting on "oh great, there goes my paycheck, thanks Theresa May", to phrases like "there are only two certainties in life - death and taxes" and anything more obviously agressive. Whether arguably true or not, the suggestion of the podcast is that these kind of disparaging remarks are made more commonly (by their target audience) than positive remarks.
    – user68033
    May 3, 2018 at 16:27
  • I think insulting remarks are directed at people and not things. So....I don't understand how one can write: We make a lot of insulting remarks about tax (as a population, in general).
    – Lambie
    May 3, 2018 at 16:46
  • I feel this is something you should ask as a question - you'll get much better responses than I can give. But it is absolutely possible to insult an idea, a system or an object - people do this in English all the time. Whether it's fruitful or not doesn't particularly matter, people do throw insults at inanimate (and sometimes abstract) things.
    – user68033
    May 3, 2018 at 22:44

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