This paper focuses on impoliteness, the use of communicative strategies designed to attack face, and thereby cause social conflict and disharmony. Using television documentary recordings of disputes between traffic wardens and car owners as our data, we revisit the impoliteness framework mapped out in Culpeper [J. Prag. 25 (1996) 349]. Having justified why an impoliteness framework is needed, we explore the notion of impoliteness and consider whether the impoliteness strategies identified in Culpeper can be found in another discourse type. We argue that for impoliteness to be fully appreciated we need to move beyond the single strategy (lexically and grammatically defined) and examine both how impoliteness pans out in extended discourse and the role of prosody in conveying impoliteness. Our paper has important implications for politeness theory and discourse studies in general, and the role of prosody in discourse in particular.