Have you ever wondered about the phrase, “complete arsehole”, as in, “he’s a complete arsehole!”. It implies a hierarchy of “arseholeness”, with complete arsehole top of the tree above other “arsey” usage.

First contender, I think is “arse” – “he’s an arse”. This is less severe and suggests a tendency to occasional lapses into unacceptable behaviour, but is okay for much of the time. Then we have, “silly arse”. Used mainly here in the UK, and is no doubt the mildest form of all – “oh she’s a silly arse”. Used, when the subject does or says something mildly unacceptable, or unconventional, and can be used affectionately.

Moving on we have, “An absolute wanker”. This implies a level of wankiness unchangeable for all times and all places. Thus, the absolute wanker you have in your office (don’t be shy, admit it, we all have one, it’s a statistical law) will be viewed as such in France, the Steppes of Central Asia, the court of King Henry VIII, or a cave in the neanderthal period. Associated relative levels though, will vary. It is possible to be a bit of a tosser on the factory floor despite being viewed as a promising MP by the labour party. Mildest derived usage – he’s a knob.

“Total twat”. Tricky. This implies there are lesser levels, or components, which together, make up the total twat. I can’t think of any regular usage, but perhaps, “oh don’t be such a clit” would fit the bill? Or, “what a labia she is”. It needs more thinking about.