Trash-talking, Teasing, and Mockery

basketball-1510760_960_720 When athletes complete, they look for any edge (or advantage) over their competition.  Much of that comes from physical skill, but some is psychological.  Often, they try to distract their opponents by trash-talking.  Trash-talking is when someone says bad things about another person’s skill or about some other aspect of his/her personality in order to make the person mad.  We can use this word as a noun or as a verb:

He trash talks every game.  I wish he’d shut up.  /  Stop trash-talking!  (Here we are using it as a verb.)

I dislike trash-talking.  Trash-talking shows bad sportsmanship.  (Here we are using it as a noun.)

boy-girl_web Kids do this often.  When children do it, we call it teasing.  Brothers and sisters tease each other to make each other mad.  Kids might tease other kids at school or on the playground.  Even friends might tease one another.  Friends usually do this as a joke, but even friends can go too far and cross a line.  When that happens, someone gets angry or feels hurt.  We can also use the idiom give someone a hard time in place of the verb tease.


This kid has “bed head,” which refers to hair that’s messy from sleeping.

For example, I could say: “His friend gave him a hard time for having bed head.”

mocking-others We use the word mock for teasing that is meant to be hurtful.  It is a very strong word.  This word is always negative.  Political opponents will mock each other to make their enemy seem stupid or weak.  We mock those we want to humiliate.

Conversation Practice:

  1. Do you play a sport?  If so, is trash-talking common in your sport?
  2. Have you ever teased anyone?  Has anyone ever teased you?
  3. Do you have siblings?  If so, what did your siblings give each other a hard time about?
  4. Have you ever seen any examples of mockery?  Who was mocking whom and for what reason?