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50 of the Best Shakespearean Insults

Shakespeare was a genius with insults

Shakespeare was a genius with insults

The God of Insults

If you are going to insult people, don't mess around. You need a good burn. Some people are adept at crafting witty insults on the spot, but most of us could 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 insults 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.

From "Hamlet"

  • If thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them.
  • You are a fishmonger.
"If thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them."

"If thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them."

From "Macbeth"

  • What, you egg! Young fry of treachery!
  • Infirm of purpose!
  • Confusion now hath made his masterpiece!
"Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood."

"Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood."

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.

From "Twelfth Night"

  • Go shake your ears!
  • Observe him, for the love of mockery

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 "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.
An example of what will happen to someone when you present them with one of these choice insults.

An example of what will happen to someone when you present them with one of these choice insults.

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.
  • You are a tedious fool.
Always be prepared to attack (and counter) with a good insult!

Always be prepared to attack (and counter) with a good insult!

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!

Weigh in!

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

Have fun!

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!


Glen Rix from UK on October 11, 2016:

Enjoyed this a lot -and it's a great memory prompt

Eric Calderwood from USA on January 06, 2014:

I love the Shakespeare insults.

A good source of sarcastic insults is the movie Ernest goes to Africa. With these you can insult someone with false praise.

"Oh, Anointed One, whose spittle is the sacred balm."

"Oh, Majestic One, whose flip-flop is the serving spoon of the poor."

"Oh, Special One, whose flatulence is the perfume of the night."

"Oh, Splendid One, whose earwax is the high-priced spread."

"Thank you, Chosen One, whose urinal is the soup-bowl of the poor."

"Explicit One, whose toe-jam is the toothpaste of the unworthy."

"It will be as you wish, Oh, Supreme One, whose sweat is the nectar of the bees."

Book Bug on December 25, 2013:

This was delightful. Now I have even more verbal ammunition, which I will promptly use so that, when others give me baffled looks, I can look down on them, glorying in the fact that I know where these quotes are from, and they--the fools!--know naught!


Seriously, cool blog! Amusing!

Chuck Bluestein from Morristown, AZ, USA on May 29, 2013:

I think that if your video above was on Youtube, it would go viral and millions of people would see it. I just watched it again. Watching it is more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

EJ Lambert from Chicago, IL on May 28, 2013:

For whatever reason people have it their heads that Shakespeare was another stereotypical high brow artist who preferred to the keep the integrity of his work intact through use of fancy language. No one truly understands that he would've thrived in a pro sports locker room, spilling out the same foul language and insults as the most blue collar people. I think that is what has been lost in all the brilliance of his work. He was so far ahead of his time because he wasn't afraid to insult anybody and everybody.

Chuck Bluestein from Morristown, AZ, USA on May 27, 2013:

I just came from your article about dating. Now if I were on a date with you, and you did the above on the video, I would have been totally impressed with you. Now you cannot give advice to others to do the above on a date since they would not be able to.

I would have learned on that date that you are a creative genius. Although what is sad is that not many people would be able to recognize that. It may not be easy to find someone that can tell how talented and wonderful you are, but I hope you do. In fact, in the above you did what my advice was. It was to just be yourself.

By being yourself, you can find someone that can really appreciate you. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it. I have only seen two of your videos but after watching the above one, I do not think that it is possible for you to have a video better than the one above. It is so great. It took me by surprise. It made me feel so good. It is just too funny.

KenDeanAgudo on May 20, 2013:

lol i love the video, that girls were Filipino's haha

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on March 08, 2013:

Reading these is always an adventure...have not read many of them since my college days. However, having them enacted in the video breathed new life into them. Loved was fun from beginning to end. Voted up Simone.

Sending Angels your way this morning :) ps

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on January 07, 2013:

I absolutely agree, gmwilliams!

Grace Marguerite Williams from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on January 05, 2013:

Just love this highly eloquent list. Shakespeare was truly the literary master of ALL I would say.

Graham Gifford from New Hamphire on December 05, 2012:

I loved this hub! I'm a huge Shakespeare fan (studied his work at Cambridge, University and it was a highlight in my education) I have a few friends that are wonderful at insulting people of putting them in their place so eloquently. I'm envious of their verbal skills and perhaps one day I, too, posses such a talent.

gryphin423 from Florida on November 15, 2012:

Awesome article, thanks!!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on November 13, 2012:

Great examples of why Shakespearean insults are so fabulous! Thanks John!

jayjay on November 07, 2012:


thomas lover 1 on November 07, 2012:

thats well harsh

johnkevin21 on November 07, 2012:

if you dont die i will get a middet to stab you in the heart

johnkevin on November 07, 2012:

i hate you all burn in hell

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on October 30, 2012:

Beats me, An AYM, tough apparently he was!

An AYM on October 27, 2012:

Wait, why is it insulting to be a fishmonger? Was Shakespeare a jerk to fishmongers?

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on October 15, 2012:

Hahaa!!! I love that. Happy insulting, jessefutch!!

jessefutch from North Carolina on October 03, 2012:

As I am in North Carolina, I'm pretty sure I could use these all day long and no one would ever be the wiser to my insults. Suddenly I have something interesting to do tomorrow.

Tyler Tobin from North Carolina on September 19, 2012:

Absolutely Hilarious, I love Shakespeare and now I can crack on my friends with Shakespearean inspired insults. Totally harmless and definitely humorous.

Lindsay Rose Dorff from Green Bay, WI on September 14, 2012:

Shakespearean insults are too much fun. I teach high school language arts, and the students loved creating Shakespearean insults!

wangipapa on August 07, 2012:


g-girl11 on July 27, 2012:

Personal fave: "your virgintiy breeds mites, much like cheese." I'm not sure what that means, but EW! Haha. I taught tenth grade English for ten years (Julius Caesar) and this would be a great resource. I did cover Shakespeare's insults with students, plus words that he created. I hope to one day get a full-time teaching job again, and this will definitely be a hub I could use in the future! Good stuff. Voted useful.

Luke Spink on July 14, 2012:

I enjoy Shakespeare, though his version of dart and arrow flattery need only excite one response in me:

No wonder God doesn't appear to mankind, for mankind does not appear too well to wonder. ~ Me.

Mary Craig from New York on July 10, 2012:

It gives me intense glee to say I loved your video and enjoyed your hub! I know so many people who are 'infirm of purpose'...this hub is surely fodder for talk and insults...what great lines are these. Of course, they can be modified for today's vernacular. Loved this from start to finish.

Voted up, useful, funny, and interesting -- oh and awesome for your video!

Cathy from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri on July 09, 2012:

Excellent, creative laugh pushing Monday return-to-reality humor. Loved the video and your presentation. A big fat William thumbs up. Liked the color coordinated head band as well. "Draw thy tool. My naked weapon is out." -- has to be a favorite.

Russ Moran - The Write Stuff from Long Island, New York on July 09, 2012:

Simone, thank you for what I think of as a resource hub. Quoting Master Will can always enliven writing. And thank Attikos for his contribution from Guy Macon. Don Rickles had nothing on these guys.

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on July 08, 2012:

Most people are exaggerating when they refer to "falling on the floor laughing", but I laughed so hard I began slipping off my desk chair cushion and barely managed to catch myself before I hit the hardwood floor.

Great idea for a hub, Simone, and very well put together. I'm not sure I'd call " Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood," elegant or classy, but they should be effective.

Then I began reading the comments, reached Attikos' flame and lost it again! I can see I'm a real novice at hurling insults, and I think I'm too old to become, I must bow to the experts.

Voted Up, Useful, Awesome and Interesting. No wonder you have so many followers!


Lisa from WA on July 08, 2012:

Great hub! I love quoting Shakespeare but this is much more fun than memorizing sonnets and quotes from plays!

Brittany Kennedy from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on July 08, 2012:

These are great! I wish I had the confidence to put my face in a video like you do, but it would probably take me forty takes before I got the one I could put out there. You are great on camera and have excellent acting skills! Very entertaining and interesting, Simone! Great work.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on July 08, 2012:

Hehee, thanks Victoria Lynn! Aren't these fun???

vox vocis, I have always admired Shakespeare's insulting abilities. After a while, it just made sense to put together a proper collection- and share it!

DzyMsLizzy, this book of insults sounds amazing! I love that rabbit poop joke.

Holy cow, Attikos. That Guy Macon piece is EPIC!!!! Woof!! And I thought Shakespeare was full of insulting creativity... I don't know if I've ever seen so much insulting verbiage packed into one place.

Thanks for stopping by, Pamela99!

spartucusjones, it gives me immense pride to know you've enjoyed this. I hope you put these insults to good use!

Hahaa, I'm glad this Video provided amusement to your daughter, denisemai! It'd be awesome if she pulled some of those out at school. Bahahaaa!!

BTW, good point, DzyMsLizzy!

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on July 08, 2012:

LOL--Attikos' quote of the Guy Macon 'flame' could be applied to most politicians.....

Denise Mai from Idaho on July 08, 2012:

Oh, Simone. Your video was so funny even my "to cool for school" 14 year old daughter sat and watched it. Now, I'm off to exercise as I'm feeling that my benefits are in all the wrong places at the moment.

CJ Baker from Parts Unknown on July 08, 2012:

Hey my fearless leader, this was freaking brilliant. I will be on the floor laughing for days. I think you may be the undisputed queen of facial expressions.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 08, 2012:

This hub is so funny. It is very clever and I loved so many of the insults. Thanks for an enjoyable hub.

Attikos from East Cackalacky on July 08, 2012:

It's not Shakespeare, but it just has to be reprinted now and then: the classic Guy Macon flame, c. 1997. It's long, so settle in:

You swine. You vulgar little maggot. You worthless bag of filth. As we say in Texas, I'll bet you couldn't pour piss out of a boot with instructions on the heel. You are a canker. A sore that won't go away. I would rather kiss a lawyer than be seen with you.

You're a putrescent mass, a walking vomit. You are a spineless little worm deserving nothing but the profoundest contempt. You are a jerk, a cad, a weasel. Your life is a monument to stupidity. You are a stench, a revulsion, a big suck on a sour lemon.

You are a bleating foal, a curdled staggering mutant dwarf smeared richly with the effluvia and offal accompanying your alleged birth into this world. An insensate, blinking calf, meaningful to nobody, abandoned by the puke-drooling, giggling beasts who sired you and then killed themselfs in recognition of what they had done.

I will never get over the embarrassment of belonging to the same species as you. You are a monster, an ogre, a malformity. I barf at the very thought of you. You have all the appeal of a paper cut. Lepers avoid you. You are vile, worthless, less than nothing. You are a weed, a fungus, the dregs of this earth. And did I mention you smell?

Try to edit your responses of unnecessary material before attempting to impress us with your insight. The evidence that you are a nincompoop will still be available to readers, but they will be able to access it more rapidly.

You snail-skulled little rabbit. Would that a hawk pick you up, drive its beak into your brain, and upon finding it rancid set you loose to fly briefly before spattering the ocean rocks with the frothy pink shame of your ignoble blood. May you choke on the queasy, convulsing nausea of your own trite, foolish beliefs.

You are weary, stale, flat and unprofitable. You are grimy, squalid, nasty and profane. You are foul and disgusting. You're a fool, an ignoramus. Monkeys look down on you. Even sheep won't have sex with you. You are unreservedly pathetic, starved for attention, and lost in a land that reality forgot.

And what meaning do you expect your delusionally self-important statements of unknowing, inexperienced opinion to have with us? What fantasy do you hold that you would believe that your tiny-fisted tantrums would have more weight than that of a leprous desert rat, spinning rabidly in a circle, waiting for the bite of the snake?

You are a waste of flesh. You have no rhythm. You are ridiculous and obnoxious. You are the moral equivalent of a leech. You are a living emptiness, a meaningless void. You are sour and senile. You are a disease, you puerile one-handed slack-jawed drooling meatslapper.

On a good day you're a half-wit. You remind me of drool. You are deficient in all that lends character. You have the personality of wallpaper. You are dank and filthy. You are asinine and benighted. You are the source of all unpleasantness. You spread misery and sorrow wherever you go.

You smarmy lagerlout git. You bloody woofter sod. Bugger off, pillock. You grotty wanking oik artless base-court apple-john. You clouted boggish foot-licking twit. You dankish clack-dish plonker. You gormless crook-pated tosser. You churlish boil-brained clotpole ponce. You cockered bum-bailey poofter. You craven dewberry pisshead cockup pratting naff. You gob-kissing gleeking flap-mouthed coxcomb. You dread-bolted fobbing beef-witted clapper-clawed flirt-gill.

You are a fiend and a coward, and you have bad breath. You are degenerate, noxious and depraved. I feel debased just for knowing you exist. I despise everything about you, and I wish you would go away.

I cannot believe how incredibly stupid you are. I mean rock-hard stupid. Dehydrated-rock-hard stupid. Stupid so stupid that it goes way beyond the stupid we know into a whole different dimension of stupid. You are trans-stupid stupid. Meta-stupid. Stupid collapsed on itself so far that even the neutrons have collapsed. Stupid gotten so dense that no intellect can escape. Singularity stupid. Blazing hot mid-day sun on Mercury stupid. You emit more stupid in one second than our entire galaxy emits in a year. Quasar stupid. Your writing has to be a troll. Nothing in our universe can really be this stupid. Perhaps this is some primordial fragment from the original big bang of stupid. Some pure essence of a stupid so uncontaminated by anything else as to be beyond the laws of physics that we know. I'm sorry. I can't go on. This is an epiphany of stupid for me. After this, you may not hear from me again for a while. I don't have enough strength left to deride your ignorant questions and half baked comments about unimportant trivia, or any of the rest of this drivel. Duh.

The only thing worse than your logic is your manners. I have snipped away most of your of what you wrote, because, well... it didn't really say anything. Your attempt at constructing a creative flame was pitiful. I mean, really, stringing together a bunch of insults among a load of babbling was hardly effective... Maybe later in life, after you have learned to read, write, spell, and count, you will have more success. True, these are rudimentary skills that many of us "normal" people take for granted that everyone has an easy time of mastering. But we sometimes forget that there are "challenged" persons in this world who find these things more difficult. If I had known, that this was your case then I would have never read your post. It just wouldn't have been "right". Sort of like parking in a handicap space. I wish you the best of luck in the emotional, and social struggles that seem to be placing such a demand on you.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on July 08, 2012:

This was too funny, Simone! Sadly, the Bard's archaic English is lost on many--they'd be confused instead of insulted, and think of the insulter as the fool.

I ran across a book of insults once, handily translated into several languages. They were all phrases for very specific situations. For some reason, the one that stuck in my mind, for use if you found small black bits in your salad at a 'greasy spoon' cafe, "Are these raisins, or do you keep rabbits under the counter?"

Voted up, interesting and funny.

Jasmine on July 08, 2012:

Great idea for a hub and an excellent video! How on Earth did you come up with this idea? Hm...I have to work on my creativity.

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on July 08, 2012:

Oh, this tickles my literary funny bone!!! Just watch who you're calling a whoreson! I love these.

Draw thy tool! My naked weapon is out...??? that one is quite interesting.

Great video. Love your dramatic interpretations. I am definitely going to have to memorize some of these and incorporate them into my everyday conversation. I'll go now, oh ye giddy goose! Thanks for an enjoyable read.