16 Shakespearean insults

It’s unlikely you’ll want to use these clever turns of phrase in a blog post or a press release, but they may get your creative juices flowing.

When it comes to clever comebacks, insults, and affronts, few can match the wit and genius of William Shakespeare.

Though his plays are filled with stabbings, poisonings, and sword fights, some of the most wounding moments include the verbal attacks of Shakespeare’s characters.

Though it is unlikely that any of us could work these into our writing for PR purposes, reading them is certainly a diversion, and perhaps they could inspire a clever, non-vicious turn of phrase in a blog post or a press release.

I’ve been daydreaming about using these on certain co-workers. Here are a few favorites:

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

• “I do desire we may be better strangers.”
As You Like It

• “You, minion, are too saucy.”
Two Gentleman of Verona

• “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

• “Thou art unfit for any place but hell.”
Richard III

• “A knot you are of damned bloodsuckers.”
Richard III

• “Having flown over many knavish professions, he settled only on rogue.”
The Winter’s Tale

• “His garments are rich, but he wears them not handsomely.”
The Winter’s Tale

• “As I told you always, her beauty and her brain go not together.”

• “I shall laugh myself to death at this puppy-headed monster!”
The Tempest

• “Hide not thy poison with such sugar’d words.”
Henry VI

• “I was seeking a fool when I found you.”
As You Like It

• “The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes.”

• “Lady, you are the cruelst she alive.”
Twelfth Night

• “Come, you are a tedious fool. To the purpose.”
Measure for Measure

And my favorite . . .

• “Thou hast the most unsavoury similes.”
Henry IV

In addition to these, there are websites that will help you create your own Shakespearean insults. Visit Shakespeare Insult Kit and Shakespearean Insulter. You can even order your own Shakespearean insult playing cards.

Ragan readers, care to add any Shakespearean insults to the list?

Laura Hale Brockway is an Austin-based writer and editor and a regular contributor to PR Daily. Read more of her work at impertinentremarks.com.


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