The “impoliteness strategy”, a kind of parallel to the “politeness strategy”, has dominated research for decades and is still current. However, the notion of a “strategy” is poorly understood and rarely defined. This paper begins by critically examining this notion, as it is used in linguistics. It argues that in politeness studies it has been overly focused on the idea of a rational linguistic means of achieving certain ends or goals. That a strategy might also involve the coordination of communication through routine and shared linguistic means that are recognised within particular communities seems to have been largely overlooked. The next part of this paper outlines Culpeper’s (1996) taxonomy of impoliteness strategies, and follows with a critical review. It notes that most problems and controversies lie at the more abstract level of the "superstrategy". Two particularly controversial areas are discussed. One is the relationship between directness and impoliteness strategies, and especially whether there is some correlation with the degree of offence caused. The other is the relationship between impoliteness strategies and context. The final part of the paper outlines a more recent bottom-up framework of impoliteness strategies or triggers, and one that, echoing Terkorafi’s (e.g. 2001) work on politeness, places impoliteness conventionalized for particular contexts of use at the centre.