The term “insolence” is defined as the state or the act of being insolent. A person who is insolent means he/she is insultingly contemptuous when it comes to their behaviour, speech or external conduct. Insolence, as a noun, implies being aggressive and extremely rude or arrogant. The word “insolent” is often used for describing children who are very rude. And, if it is used in the context of an adult, it is considered a harsh critique.

insolent woman

The term “insolence” is defined as the state or the act of being insolent.

Origin of the Word

The word “insolence” was known to be used in Middle English during the 14th century. It is derived from the Latin word “insolens,” which translates as overbearing.


An insolent person is considered to be impertinent, impudent, audacious, abusive, uncivil, saucy, rude, brazen, disrespectful, proud, bodacious, insubordinate, presumptuous, cheeky and overbearing.


Antonyms include polite, civil, respectful, courteous, submissive, mannerly, deferential, humble, etc.

Characteristics of an Insolent Person

A person who is said to be insolent exhibits a bad attitude towards other individuals, and considers himself to be better than others. Often, it implies that an insolent person is comparatively in a better position than the one he is speaking to, and takes advantage of the other person, as a result.

Insolence at the Workplace

Insolence is a specific category of behaviour that is considered to be an act of insubordination at the workplace.


Insolence also starts with minor errors of judgements, such as communicating to the manager to get off his/her back, especially while handling a stressful project. It could also be more blatant blow-ups or acts of uncivilised behaviour and extreme examples, which include making personal insult remarks at the manager, using profanity, and issuing physical threats.

Insolent Behaviour – Causes

Insolent behaviour occurs due to many reasons. The attitudes that employees carry may lead to insolence. For instance, the behaviour could get exhibited when an employee takes up a job that he does not really like. This can be due to a pessimistic attitude, stress, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy and fear. Insolence is also observed in professions/jobs that are demanding, underpaid, unappreciated or involving emotional stress, or jobs that involve working with oppressive supervisors.


The consequences for insolent behaviour at the workplace vary based on the severity, the position of the supervisor, and the employee’s history. This may be in the form of verbal or written reprimands for isolated incidents, demotion or probation, or even termination in serious cases.


Employees usually opt for legal recourse for wrongful termination after being sacked for insolence. Court opinions vary on a case-to-case basis.

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