Calling one's brother an "idiot"


Hello there everyone,

I’ve just come back from Mass, having been to Confession yesterday and having received Communion today. When I got home, I tried to explain to my brother how he should wait with doing certain things we were going to do today until I had prepared for it. He wouldn’t listen and got quite annoying, which resulted in me becoming irritated. Re-stating my point in hope that he would understand, he still continued to just talk at me without really grasping what I meant. Being in that annoyed state, I caught myself calling him an “idiot” for his behaviour.

Since I have just got back from Mass and Communion (which I haven’t received in weeks), I would be really troubled to know that I had just once again mortally sinned. So my question is this: Is it mortal sin to call someone an idiot in an annoyed state of mind? It’s not that I resolved “Right, I’ll call him an idiot now”, but that it just so happened.

Hope that’s clear, thanks. :slight_smile:


I don’t think it is a mortal sin, especially given your frame of mind. Sometimes we say things we regret without thinking them through. I would apologize to my brother and God. If it continues to disturb you, mention it the next time you go to confession and ask the priest give you his opinion and guidance.

I used to notice that when I went to confession some blow up would invariably happen with my daughter and/or ex-husband within hours. With my ex, we might go for weeks without any communication or problems. Then, I would go to confession and he would call shortly after I got home to discuss an annoying issue and the conversation would turn into an argument. I felt like I has blown it all within hours. It was a strange repeating pattern. Eventually, I realized that this was the devil trying to discourage me and make me anxious…or rather the Lord allowing him to do this so as to strengthen me. This happens far less often now that I have started going to confession more frequently and confessing even venial sins.


I hope not.


I think an essential question would be, what really got you upset to begin with? Why not tell him that you would not discuss the issue any further. In other words, tell him to shut up and wait until you were ready. Otherwise, you could leave him out the next time. And then stand firm on this. Jesus did say that anyone saying “You fool!” was in danger. Of hellfire if I remember it correctly. Anyway, if you can plan ahead and prevent this sort of stuff from happening, the better for all concerned.


I actually thought it was a mortal sin, but I guess I’m still learning.


Well perhaps it is not a mortal sin after all you blurted it out, however I would urge you to confess this to your priest and ask him for guidance in getting rid of this habit.
After all calling someone “idiot” is the same as calling him “moron” or “retard”.

All epithets that denote lack of mental acuity that we should not use against any one out of charity, for the person that suffers from them cannot do anything about it.
Most of the time is genetic and were born like that.

Now “stupidity” is something that we are all prone to do no matter how “intelligent” we are, so if you feel like you need to insult someone I would recommend using that instead, but as above I would caution for you to try to remove this type of language all together and grow in patience instead. Perhaps try to put in practice Patrick Coffin saying on the radio program “Be a saint, what else is there?”


Not referencing the Catechism or anything (I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to dig up) but I’m pretty sure it’s probably one of those things that falls more under intent than anything else.

If the word “idiot” is used in an affectionate sort of way, then there is no sin (in intimate situations, where the other person understands it of course!)
If it is used out of frustration and anger, with no real malice, then it is probably venial.
If it is used out of a desire to hurt and offend, then it is probably mortal.


Name calling is not grave matter… It may be uncharitable but I think it would have to be in a hate filled tirade to rise up to grave matter.


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