50 Shakespeare Insults: The Best British Insults Ever
If you are going to insult people, you might as well insult them skillfully. Some people are adept at crafting witty insults on the spot, but most of us would benefit from a pre-loaded arsenal of invective to hurl at our adversaries.
One relatively safe approach would be to collect good insults as you discover them, but there is something to be said for having a more cohesive and thematic set of insluts to pull from, so I personally recommend drawing insults from one particular person or time period.
Should you like to draw from the best of both worlds, I heartily recommend using the poetically gorgeous insults of William Shakespeare. Nobody dished harsh zingers quite like the Bard.
To give you some inspiration, I've put together a collection of my favorite Shakespearean insults. Let's all do our part to make modern insults a bit more Elizabethan.
- If thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them.
- You are a fishmonger.
- What, you egg! Young fry of treachery!
- Infirm of purpose!
- Confusion now hath made his masterpiece!
From King Lear
- Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood.
- Thou whoreson zed! Thou unnecessary letter!
From The Tempest
- His complexion is perfect gallows
- What strange fish hath made his meal on thee
- O ho, monster
- Most wicked sir, whom to call brother would even infect my mouth
- Hang cur, hang, you whoreson, insolent noisemaker.
From Anthony and Cleopatra
- Rogue, thou hast liv'd too long.
Tips on Delivery
- Don't try to explain that these insults are quotes from Shakespeare plays. Just let people be confused.
- Don't attempt to explain the meaning of these insults. Just look at your confused victims and chortle.
- Feel free to complement these insults with dramatic gestures and poses.
- Teach your friends some of these insults and randomly use them in public spaces.
From Twelfth Night
- Go shake your ears!
- Observe him, for the love of mockery
From Richard III
- poisonous bunch-back'd toad!
- Drop into the rotten mouth of death.
- Thou slander of thy heavy mother’s womb!
- Thou lump of foul deformity!
- Out of my sight! Thou dost infect my eyes.
From Henry IV, Part I
- Go, ye giddy goose.
- Thou hast the most unsavoury smiles.
From Henry IV, Part 2
- Thou art a very ragged Wart.
- I scorn you, scurvy companion.
- You are as rheumatic as two dry toasts.
- You scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian! I'll tickle your catastrophe!
From Henry V
- There's no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune.
- Avaunt, you cullions!
From King John
- Out, dunghill!
From Timon of Athens
- I’ll beat thee, but I should infect my hands.
From Measure for Measure
- I’ll pray a thousand prayers for thy death - Measure for Measure
- You are a tedious fool - Meaure for Measure
From The Merry Wives of Windsor
- Thou art a Castillian King urinal
From Taming of the Shrew
- You peasant swain! You whoreson malt-horse drudge!
- How foul and loathsome is thine image!
- A monster, a very monster in apparel!
- You heedless joltheads and unmannered slaves!
How often do you insult people?
From Much Ado About Nothing
- I wonder that you will still be talking. Nobody marks you.
From All's Well that Ends Well
- Your virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese.
From As You Like It
- Truly thou art damned, like an ill-roasted egg, all on one side.
- Let’s meet as little as we can.
- You lisp and wear strange suits.
- Her benefits are highly misplaced.
- Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens!
- I desire that we be better strangers.
- I think he be transformed into a beast; for I can nowhere find him like a man.
From Romeo and Juliet
- Thy wit is a very bitter sweeting, it is a most sharp sauce.
- You kiss by the book
- Draw thy tool. My naked weapon is out.
- A plague on both your houses!
- Thou detestable maw, thou womb of death
- Hang, beg, starve, die in the streets
While 50 insults may seem like many, Shakespeare worked countless more into his plays (only some of which I chose to address here), so I recommend revisiting you favorite works and making note of your favorite insulting phrases. They make for excellent, elegant, classy rejoinders- and heck.... isn't that what insults are all about, right?
Oh, don't roll your eyes at me, you heedless jolthead. I'll tickle your catastrophe!