An insult (also called a putdown) is an expression, statement (or sometimes behavior) which is considered degrading and offensive. Insults may be intentional or accidental. An example of the latter is a well-intended simple explanation, which in fact is superfluous, but is given due to underestimating the intelligence or knowledge of the other.
Whether or not speech or behavior is insulting in practice, and sometimes by the terms of local assault statutes, is often a product of the subjective sense of the insulted party. However, insults to one person who might not mind such derogatory speech may indirectly insult others. Many states and local municipalities enforce prohibitions against rude, offensive or insulting speech, leaving citizens, law enforcement officers and courts to decide what is and what is not an insult. The concept of fighting words as a form of prohibited speech has developed in the jurisprudence of U.S. constitutional law concerning terms of disparagement.
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