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The Best Shakespearean Insults Of All Time

Picture of Hayley Ricketson
Updated: 24 April 2017
William Shakespeare wrote some of the most celebrated and widely known plays the world has ever had the pleasure of experienceing. But the revered Bard was not only a master of plays and poetry; his ability to write the most imaginative and cut-throat insults is just as impressive — and hilarious. Get creative with your comebacks and have a look at some of the Bard’s most wicked retorts.
Courtesy of Hayley Ricketson
Courtesy of Hayley Ricketson

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

King Lear

Courtesy of Hayley Ricketson
Courtesy of Hayley Ricketson

‘Thou leathern-jerkin, crystal-button, knot-pated, agatering, puke-stocking, caddis-garter, smooth-tongue Spanish pouch!’

Henry IV, Part One

Courtesy of Hayley Ricketson
Courtesy of Hayley Ricketson

‘O you beast! I’ll so maul you and your toasting-iron, that you shall think the devil has come from hell!’

King John

Courtesy of Hayley Ricketson
Courtesy of Hayley Ricketson

‘A most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise breaker, the owner of no one good quality.’

All’s Well That Ends Well

Courtesy of Hayley Ricketson
Courtesy of Hayley Ricketson

And the mother of all Shakespearean insults:

‘Thou art a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy worsted-stocking knave; a lily-liver’d, action-taking, whoreson, glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar, and the son and heir of a mungril bitch.’

King Lear

If you want to generate some Shakespearean insults of your very own, the internet provides some fantastic resources, for all the ‘puking, fat-kidneyed maggot-pies’ and ‘weedy, swag-bellied canker-blossoms’ you know!