All name-calling achieves the desired effect of hurting the child and making them feel bad about themselves. It produces the whole gamut of negative emotions (anger, fear, sadness, hurt, shame, betrayal); it causes a social injury, and it will induce stress. It also damages attachment when it comes form a caretaker. A few little words can produce big effects.
Direct attacks can also take the form of taunting or teasing a child about a particular attribute of themselves. Consider this example from Walters (1975, p. 47): "Edward was 7, introspective, quiet, and read a lot. He did not care for the outdoor life of his two older brothers and his father, who 'lives for outdoor activities.' Frequently taunted by his brothers and father as a 'sissy,' Edward began to break fishing rods, lines, and other equipment. When he was caught by his father in the act of cutting a hole in a tent, he was severely beaten and was denied food for three days."
This type of taunting can be devastating - and is a lot more common than you might imagine. Sadly, children whose interests/abilities/personalities differ from the family or contradict the parent's wishes are often severely taunted by their siblings or even the parents themselves. This story also provides a perfect example of how abuse can be reciprocal: A child is verbally abused, and so feeling deeply wounded, they act up. When they act up, they draw the anger and ire of the parents, which often leads to more abuse (physical or verbal). The child is punished again for behavior that arose as a direct result of the abuse they experienced in the first place.
Subtle put-downs may fall short of verbal attacks, ,but they can be every bit as devastating to the child: