Shakespearean Insults From A to Z

By It may be by a painter called John Taylor who was an important member of the Painter-Stainers' Company.[1] (Official gallery link) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

William Shakespeare is one of the best insult-slinging writers in the English language. Do you ever find yourself wishing you had an inventive way to let off steam? Try some of these clever Shakespearean quips, organized alphabetically by the work in which they are found.

Shakespearean Insults

  • All's Well that Ends Well (2.3.262)
    “You are not worth another word, else I'd call you knave.”
  • As You Like It (3.2.248)
    “I do desire we may be better strangers.”
  • The Comedy of Errors (4.2.22-5)
    “He is deformed, crooked, old and sere, / Ill-faced, worse bodied, shapeless everywhere; / Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind; / Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.”
  • The Comedy of Errors (4.4.24)
    “Thou whoreson, senseless villain!”
  • Coriolanus (2.1.36)
    “You abilities are too infant-like for doing much alone.”
  • Coriolanus (2.1.59)
    “They lie deadly that tell you you have good faces .”
  • Coriolanus (2.1.91)
    “More of your conversation would infect my brain.”
  • Coriolanus (5.1.108-9)
    “For such things as you, I can scarce think there's any, ye're so slight.”
  • Coriolanus (5.4.18)
    “The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes.”
  • Cymbeline (1.1.128)
    “Away! Thou'rt poison to my blood.”
  • Hamlet (2.2.198)
    “They have a plentiful lack of wit.”
  • Hamlet (5.2.335-6)
    “Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damned Dane, / Drink off this potion!”
  • 1 Henry IV (2.4.225-6)
    “This sanguine coward, this bed-presser, this horseback-breaker, this huge hill of flesh!”
  • 1 Henry IV (2.4.227-9)
    “'Sblood, you starveling, you elf-skin, you dried neat's tongue, you bull's pizzle, you stock-fish! O for breath to utter what is like thee! you tailor's-yard, you sheath, you bowcase; you vile standing-tuck!”
  • 1 Henry IV (3.3.40)
    “There’s no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune.”
  • 2 Henry IV (2.4.120-22)
    “Away, you cut-purse rascal! you filthy bung, away! By this wine, I'll thrust my knife in your mouldy chaps, an you play the saucy cuttle with me. Away, you bottle-ale rascal! you basket-hilt stale juggler, you!"
  • Henry V (2.1.100)
    “O braggart vile and damned furious wight!”
  • Henry V (3.2.30)
    “He is white-livered and red-faced.”
  • 1 Henry VI (3.2.54)
    “Hag of all despite!“
  • 1 Henry VI (5.4.30-1)
    “Take her away; for she hath lived too long, / To fill the world with vicious qualities.”
  • 3 Henry VI (5.6.54-5)
    “Teeth hadst thou in thy head when thou wast born, / To signify thou camest to bite the world.”
  • Julius Caesar (1.1.36)
    “You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!”
  • King Lear (2.2.14-24)
    “A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson, glass-gazing, super-serviceable 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 mongrel bitch: one whom I will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deniest the least syllable of thy addition.”
  • King John (4.3.105)
    “O you beast! / I'll so maul you and your toasting-iron, / That you shall think the devil is come from hell.”
  • Measure for Measure (2.1.113)
    “You are a tedious fool.”
  • Measure for Measure (3.1.151-3)
    “O faithless coward! O dishonest wretch! / Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice?”
  • Measure for Measure (3.2.56)
    “Some report a sea-maid spawn’d him; some that he was begot between two stock-fishes. But it is certain that when he makes water his urine is congealed ice.”
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor (2.3.21)
    “Thou art a Castilian King urinal!”
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor (5.5.60)
    “Vile worm, thou wast o’erlook’d even in thy birth.”
  • Othello (4.2.50)
    “Heaven truly knows that thou art false as hell.”
  • Pericles (4.6.156)
    “Thy food is such / As hath been belch'd on by infected lungs.”
  • Richard III (1.2.58)
    “Thou lump of foul deformity!”
  • Richard III (1.2.159)
    “Out of my sight! thou dost infect my eyes.”
  • The Taming of the Shrew (4.1.116)
    “You peasant swain! You whoreson malt-horse drudge!”
  • The Tempest (3.2.29-30)
    “Why, thou deboshed fish thou...Wilt thou tell a monstrous lie, being but half a fish and half a monster?”
  • Troilus and Cressida (2.1.10)
    “Thou bitch-wolf's son!”
  • Troilus and Cressida (2.1.16-7)
    “I think thy horse will sooner con an oration than / thou learn a prayer without book.”
  • Troilus and Cressida (2.1.41)
    “Thou sodden-witted lord! thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows.”
  • Troilus and Cressida (4.2.31)
    “Go hang yourself, you naughty mocking uncle!”
  • Troilus and Cressida (2.1.106)
    “I shall cut out your tongue.” / “'Tis no matter, I shall speak as much wit as thou afterwards.”
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Burgess, Adam. "Shakespearean Insults From A to Z." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Burgess, Adam. (2020, August 27). Shakespearean Insults From A to Z. Retrieved from Burgess, Adam. "Shakespearean Insults From A to Z." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 24, 2023).