No one has harsher burns than William Shakespeare! His ability to land a verbal blow at just the right moment is unmatched by anyone in literary history. Keep reading to learn brand new (and yet classic) ways to insult someone using the Bard’s words.
39 Famous and Funny Shakespeare Insults
Insulting Someone’s Intelligence
When you want to attack a person’s intelligence but “dumb” doesn’t seem strong enough, Shakespeare’s got plenty of options. Here are some descriptive ways to insult someone’s intelligence.
- Your abilities are too infant-like for doing much alone. (Coriolanus)
- She hath more hair than wit, and more faults than hairs, and more wealth than faults. (Two Gentlemen of Verona)
- Thou sodden-witted lord! Thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows! (Troilus and Cressida)
- Your brain is as dry as the remainder biscuit after voyage. (As You Like It)
- He has not so much brain as ear-wax. (Troilus and Cressida)
- You do unbend your noble strength, to think so brainsickly of things. (Macbeth)
Insulting a Useless Person
Shakespeare’s heroes and villains have no use for weaker characters. Read a list of Shakespearean insults for occasions when you want to insult the pointlessness of a person’s existence.
- Away thou rag, thou quantity, thou remnant. (The Taming of the Shrew)
- Thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter! (King Lear)
- Foul spoken coward, that thund’rest with thy tongue, and with thy weapon nothing dares perform. (Titus Andronicus)
- You are not worth another word, else I’d call you knave. (All’s Well That Ends Well)
- Thou slander of thy heavy mother's womb! (Richard III)
- In civility thou seem'st so empty. (As You Like It)
- That kiss is as comfortless as frozen water to a starved snake. (Titus Andronicus)
Insulting an Unlikeable Person
Some of the best Shakespeare burns are reserved for the antagonists. Find some great ways to slam your adversaries with these famous insults.
- There’s small choice in rotten apples. (Taming of the Shrew)
- I do desire that we may be better strangers. (As You Like It)
- Thy sin’s not accidental, but a trade. (Measure For Measure)
- Heaven truly knows that thou art false as hell. (Othello)
- 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)
- I do wish thou were a dog, that I might love thee something. (Timon of Athens)
- You have such a February face, so full of frost, of storm and cloudiness. (Much Ado About Nothing)
- Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood. (King Lear)
- The rankest compound of villainous smell that ever offended nostril. (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
- Dissembling harlot, thou art false in all. (The Comedy of Errors)
- Away, you three-inch fool! (The Taming of the Shrew)
- Thou elvish-mark’d, abortive, rooting hog! (Richard III)
- Bloody, bawdy villain! Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain! (Hamlet)
- You starveling, you eel-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 bow-case, you vile standing tuck! (Henry IV, Part I)
Insulting Someone’s Looks
Shakespeare had no problem stooping to the lowest level when it came to crafting his insults. Here are some ways that characters attack each other’s looks in arguments and tense moments.
- [Thou] foul defacer of God's handiwork. (Richard III)
- No longer from head to foot than from hip to hip, she is spherical, like a globe, I could find out countries in her. (The Comedy of Errors)
- I am sick when I do look on thee. (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
- Out of my sight! Thou dost infect my eyes. (Richard III)
- Her face is not worth sunburning. (Henry V)
- Thou art as fat as butter. (Henry IV)
- That trunk of humours, that bolting-hutch of beastliness, that swollen parcel of dropsies, that huge bombard of sack, that stuffed cloak-bag of guts, that roasted Manningtree ox with pudding in his belly, that reverend vice, that grey Iniquity, that father ruffian, that vanity in years? (Henry IV)
- Thou hateful wither’d hag! (Richard III)
- The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes. (The Comedy of Errors)
- Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens! (As You Like It)
- [Thou] sanguine coward, [thou] bed-presser, [thou] horseback-breaker, [thou] huge hill of flesh! (Henry IV)
When All Else Fails…
If your conversational partner is still standing, try this one on for size. It’s known as one of Shakespeare’s most vicious and well-worded replies. The quote is from King Lear, Act 2, Scene 2, in which a disguised Kent verbally abuses the chief steward of Goneril’s household.
- [Thou art] a knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats; a 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, pander, 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 Lear)
Shakespearean Insult Generator
You can use the Bard’s words to create your own insults as well! Use our printable PDF to make the insults fly in a fun game at home or in school.
View & Download PDF
More Shakespeare Resources
Would you like to bring more of Shakespeare’s words to your daily conversation? Check out a list of words and phrases coined by the famous writer. You can also find more Shakespearean quotes – most of which are less insulting than the quotes featured here – with an engaging literary article.