Shakespearean Insults

"’Tis such fools as you / That makes the world full of ill-favor’d children." Rosalind, As You Like It (3.4.52-3)

"I must tell you friendly in your ear, / Sell when you can, you are not for all markets." Rosalind, As You Like It (3.4.59-60)

Syracusan Antipholus: "What complexion is she of?" Syracusan Dromio: "Swart, like my shoe, but her face nothing like so clean." Comedy of Errors (3.2.101-3)

"I have thought some of Nature’s journeymen had made men, and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably." Hamlet, Hamlet (3.3.33-5)

Hamlet: "Dost know this water-fly?" Horatio: "No, my good lord." Hamlet: "Thy state is the more gracious, for ‘tis a vice to know him." Hamlet (5.2.82-5)

"’Tis beauty that doth oft make women proud, / But God he knows thy share thereof is small." Duke of York, Henry VI, Part 3 (1.4.128-9)

"That face of his the hungry cannibals / Would not have touch’d..." Duke of York, Henry VI, Part 3 (1.4.152-3) (This was not meant as an insult, "but," to quote Mercutio, "’tis enough, ’twill serve.")

"You base football player" Kent, King Lear (1.4.86)

"[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." Kent, King Lear (2.2.15-23)

"You whoreson cullionly barber-monger." Kent, King Lear (2.2.33)

"You cowardly rascal, Nature disclaims in thee: a tailor made thee." Kent, King Lear (2.2.54-5)

"God made him, and therefore let him pass for a man." Portia, Merchant of Venice (1.2.56-7)

"He is a proper man’s picture, but alas, who can converse with a dumb show?" Portia, Merchant of Venice (1.2.72-3)

"When he is best, he is a little worse than a man, and when he is worst, he is little better than a beast." Portia, Merchant of Venice (1.2.88-9)

"I will do anything ... ere I will be married to a spunge." Portia, Merchant of Venice (1.2.98-9)

"What’s here? the portrait of a blinking idiot." Arragon, Merchant of Venice (2.9.54)

"It is so indeed, he is no less than a stuff’d man. But for the stuffing—well, we are all mortal." Beatrice, Much Ado About Nothing (1.1.58-60)

"In our last conflict four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man govern’d with one; so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse, for it is all the wealth that he hath left to be known a reasonable creature." Beatrice, Much Ado About Nothing (1.1.65-71)

Messenger: "I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books." Beatrice: "No, and he were, I would burn my study." Much Ado About Nothing (1.1.78-80)

"O Lord, he will hang upon him like a disease; he is sooner caught than the pestilence, and the taker runs presently mad." Beatrice, Much Ado About Nothing (1.1.86-8)

"I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick, nobody marks you." Beatrice, Much Ado About Nothing (1.1.116-7)

Benedick: "What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?" Beatrice: "Is it possible disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come in her presence." Much Ado About Nothing (1.1.118-23)

"He doth indeed show some sparks that are like wit." Don Pedro, Much Ado About Nothing (2.3.186-7)

Conrad: "Here, man, I am at thy elbow." Borachio: "Mass, and my elbow itch’d; I thought there would a scab follow." Much Ado About Nothing (3.3.98-100)

Brabantio: "Thou art a villain." Iago: "You are a senator." (Does Iago mean this as an insult? Probably.) Othello (1.1.118)

"O gull! O dolt! / As ignorant as dirt!" Emilia, Othello (5.2.163-4)

"O, villains, vipers, damned without redemption!" Richard II, Richard II (3.2.129)

"Thou flea, thou nit, thou winter-cricket thou!" Petruchio, The Taming of the Shrew (4.3.109)

"I do wish thou wert a dog, / That I might love thee something." Timon, Timon of Athens (4.3.55-6)

"Were I like thee, I’d throw away myself." Timon, Timon of Athens (4.3.219)

"When there is nothing living but thee, thou shalt be welcome." Timon, Timon of Athens (4.3.355-6)

"I had rather be a beggar’s dog than Apemantus." Timon, Timon of Athens (4.3.356-7)

"Thou art the cap of all fools alive." Apemantus, Timon of Athens (4.3.357)

"Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon!" Timon, Timon of Athens (4.3.358)

"A plague on thee, thou art too bad to curse!" Apemantus, Timon of Athens (4.3.359)

"I’ll beat thee, but I should infect my hands." Timon, Timon of Athens (4.3.364)

"Away, thou issue of a mangy dog!" Timon, Timon of Athens (4.3.366)

"Away, thou tedious rogue! / I am sorry that I shall lose a stone by thee." (Timon promptly throws a stone at Apemantus after this line.) Timon, Timon of Athens (4.3.369-70)

"I ... pronounce you a gross lout." Leontes, The Winter’s Tale (1.2.300-1)


Copyright 1997 by Ace G. Pilkington