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In anime, people sometimes use the words "aunt" or "auntie" to refer to a young female character. This is in fact a bit insulting, because in Japanese culture, calling a female a word that is considered to be old(er) is rude.

My question is, is there a similar culture in English-speaking country? What's the proper English words to use if one is going to convey such an insult? Can a native speaker understand it if I use "aunt"?

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    In anime this is "translationese", it is a literal translation of obasan. But such use is not common in English. Are you looking for an insult that you could call a young woman (eg 25years old) that implies she is older, or a word you could call an old woman (eg 80) to imply that she is worthless? How would you ever use this word?
    – James K
    Apr 4, 2022 at 6:10
  • Yes, this question isn't clear to me. I don't think it's common to insult young women by using a term meant to imply that they are much older. I can't say I've heard anyone use insulting terms like "old bag", "old biddy" etc to a young woman. Apr 4, 2022 at 6:43
  • Aunt conveys nothing about age in English. It used to be common for children to address family friends as Auntie and Uncle; the only other non-literal meaning suggests a woman who is kind to younger people. Apr 4, 2022 at 8:15
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    It wouldn't be rude, but it would seem very odd to address a stranger as though they were a relation. Apr 4, 2022 at 8:35
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    That has probably never happened. A 15 year old would not call a 22 year old stranger "aunt". It would be completely non-idiomatic. It would be unusual for a 15 year old to speak to a 22 year old stranger at all. 99.9% would go into "polite mode", if they spoke at all. And the 0.1% would be so exceptional that you don't need to worry about what messed up English they might produce.
    – James K
    Apr 4, 2022 at 8:40

2 Answers 2

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The corresponding word in English is grandma or granny. You can also use grandpa or gramps for a man as an insult. While these words are obviously fine to use for your grandparents, using them for other adults is almost always insulting (even older adults).

In more recent slang, you can also call someone a boomer (like in the expression ok, boomer). Note that this is insulting even when referring to someone who is a Baby Boomer.

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Not "aunt". That word is used literally (to mean the the sister of a parent) or in an extended way (a close female friend of a parent, who may babysit etc). Unlike (say) Japanese, English tends not to use family words like "grandmother", "aunt" or "sister" to mean "old woman", "middle-aged woman", "young woman".

There are ageist insults in English. Like much slang, these may be dialect, or local language. "Old biddy" (faltering old woman) or "Old fogey" (old, unfashionable man). Macmillian has a list I've heard expressions like "Young fogey" (a young person who dresses or has social attitudes like an old man), but these are not common - Don't use them.

An interesting modern term is "a karen" (from the name, Karen) which is an insult for a white interfering, middle-aged woman with conservative attitudes. This is very modern slang, and it will probably be out of date soon, as teenagers move on to the next bit of slang.

Finally, I've heard "you're such a mum", used to mean "you don't do the cool things that other teenagers do". But again, if you're not "one of the cool teenagers" you shouldn't use that expression.

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    When I was a teenager in London in the 1960s, if a rude kid, when e.g. rebuked for something such as boisterous behaviour, by someone visibly aged over about 50, who he did not know (it was usually boys), he might say contemptuously 'Sorry, Grandma!" or 'Sorry Grandpa!". This is one of a very restricted times when a younger person would address an older person with a family term. Apr 4, 2022 at 10:33

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