12 of Shakespeare’s Best Insults

18 Jun

There are few things in life better than watching a douchebag get shot down with a killer insult.  One of those things is being the person who delivers the insult.

Even better is cutting someone down with a Shakespearean insult.

Shakespeare was the master of the sly slur, the pithy insult, and the all out brutal audio assault.  And so, to help you achieve your dreams of peerless insult passing, Hesaidwhatnow? presents twelve of the best Shakespearean insults.

12. “Thou sodden-witted lord!  Thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows.”

Troilus and Cressida

A way better option that the classic, “You’re stupid,” this zinger from Thersites to Ajax will let your target know what you think of them.  Unless they’re really thick.

11. “They lie deadly that tell you you have good faces.”


If you have a “You’re stupid,” insult up your sleeve, you need a “You’re ugly,” insult too, right?

10.  “More of your conversation would infect my brain.”


A perfect little quip to silence anyone battering you with inane chatter.  As handy for a night out with drunk people as for a meeting with the boss.

9. “Thou crusty batch of nature.”

 Troilus and Cressida

Like Voltron and Captain Planet, when these five words combine they become a devastating weapon that will rip heart out of any enemy.

Forget the environment - go insult someone!

Forget the environment – go insult someone!

8. “Thou clay-brained guts, thou knotty-pated fool, thou whoreson obscene greasy tallow-catch”

“This sanguine coward, this bed-presser, this horse-back-breaker, this huge hill of flesh.”

Henry IV, Part I

Let’s see: in this demoralising rant, Hal calls his friend Falstaff stupid twice, a son of a whore, a coward, and fat in four different ways.  Imagine the insults he saves for his enemies!

7. “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 bow-case, you vile standing tuck.”

Henry IV, Part I

Not to be outdone, an outraged Falstaff gives as good as he gets, insulting Hal so variously that he needs to take a breath halfway through to continue crafting his curses.  Perhaps if he wasn’t four types of fat he wouldn’t run out of breath so easily…

6. “You should be women and yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so.”


In the context of the play, this is not meant so much as an insult to the three witches being described, but a means of notifying the audience of how ugly and therefore scary they are.  However, out of context it makes a great insult.  I recommend using it when your girlfriend and her friends are about to embark on a girls’ night out.  You’ll have to sleep on the couch, but it will be worth it.

5. “Thine face is not worth sunburning.”

Henry V

Short, sharp, and cuttingly to the point – you’re so ugly that not even the sun can be bothered disfiguring you more.

4. “I shall cut out your tongue.”

“’Tis no matter.  I shall speak as much wit as thou afterwards.”

Troilus and Cressida

Up to their usual tricks, Ajax slurs Thersites, who in turn quickly insults Ajax right back with this sharp rejoinder.  Checkmate.

3. “Methinks thou art a general offence, and every man should beat thee.”

All’s Well That Ends Well

Not even Thersites could manufacture a comeback to that.


"Yo mama is so fatteth..."  Oh yes, that is good!

“Yo mama is so fatteth…” Oh yes, that is good!

2. “I must tell you friendly in your ear, sell when you can, you are not for all markets.”

As You Like It

Evidence that the ages old trick of prefacing a negative comment with, “No offence, but…” is, in fact, an ages old trick.  Here, Rosalind essentially tells Phebe that she should accept Silvius’ courtship because she’s not exactly a catch, and a better opportunity is unlikely to present itself.  No introductory words soften that blow.

1. “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, 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 thous deniest the least syllable of thy addition.”

Wow.  This is the answer that Oswald receives when he asks Kent, “What dost thou know me for?”  I bet he wishes he could take back the question.

Ah Shakespeare – he truly was the greatest wordsmith of all time.

One Response to “12 of Shakespeare’s Best Insults”

  1. Cmax Pine December 24, 2014 at 6:25 am #

    You can also use “thou art Fouler than a crusty batch of nature” and “away!, thou crusty batch of nature”

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