It may be 400 years since William Shakespeare’s death, but his sharp-witted insults have stood the test of time. You may not have paid much notice at school, so you can thank us for trawling through his back catalogue to dig out the best Shakespeare insults for you.
Now, instead of shouting some crude Anglo-Saxon expletives after a few beers, try some of these and impress your mates at the same time.
Top 10 Shakespeare insults
1 Thou cream-faced loon
This comes from Macbeth, and today’s equivalent would be something like: “You pale-faced twat!” Mind you, it’s not politically correct to call anyone a loon these days.
2 Away you three-inch fool
There’s no greater insult than to question the size of a guy’s manhood. But this is exactly what Shakespeare is doing here in a line from Taming of the Shrew.
3 Villain, I have done thy mother
Ouch! It doesn’t take a genius to work out what the Bard means here in Titus Andronicus, does it? And you thought “I’ve banged your mom” was a recent import from the US? As Shakespeare insults go, this is pretty hardcore.
4 Thou art the son and heir of a mongrel bitch
We’re beginning to get the idea that Shakespeare had a bit of a wicked tongue. This line from King Lear was not only the forerunner to today’s “Son of a bitch”, but adds the mongrel element as well, which is a little, er, racist!
5 I will bite my thumb at them, which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it
Romeo and Juliet may have been a love story (with a somewhat disturbing ending), but it was also quite rude. Biting your thumb in Shakespeare language is today’s equivalent of giving someone the middle finger.
Shakespeare insults: the Bard was a master of the put-down
6 Away you moldy rogue, away!
Use this insult from Henry IV as a slightly more polite way of saying: “P*ss off, scum.”
7 I wonder that you will still be talking
A great line from Much Ado About Nothing that basically says: “For Christ sake,shut up!”.
8 A fusty nut with no kernel
From Troilus and Cressida, this is Shakespeare’s way of saying someone is “one sandwich short of a picnic”, or “not the sharpest tool in the box”.
9 Methinks thou art a general offence, and every man should beat thee
You may well have heard the modern version of this All’s Well That Ends Well quote. On the football terraces, for example, it would be: “You’re going to get your f*cking head kicked in.” Or more generally: “I think you’re a dick and you deserve to get a slap.”
10 More of your conversation would infect my brain
From Coriolanus, Shakespeare is simply saying: “Listening to you is doing my head in.”
So there you have it – Shakespeare insults in one handy list!