You can tell by the hundreds of imaginative biting quips in Shakespeare’s plays that the man adored a good insult. The following is small collection of the very best of Shakespeare’s jabs and affronts.
You are not worth another word, else I’d call you knave.
All’s Well that Ends Well (2.3.262)
I do desire we may be better strangers.
As You Like It (3.2.248)
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 (4.2.22-5)
Thou whoreson, senseless villain!
The Comedy of Errors (4.4.24)
Dissembling harlot, thou art false in all!
The Comedy of Errors (4.4.100)
You abilities are too infant-like for doing much alone.
They lie deadly that tell you you have good faces .
You wear out a good wholesome forenoon in hearing a cause between an orange wife and a fosset-seller.
More of your conversation would infect my brain.
For such things as you, I can scarce think there’s any, ye’re so slight.
The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes.
There is no more mercy in him than there is milk in a male tiger.
Away! Thou’rt poison to my blood.
O thou vile one!
You had measured how long a fool you were upon the ground.
Frailty, thy name is woman!
They have a plentiful lack of wit.
Take you me for a sponge?
Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damned Dane,
Drink off this potion!
Thou hast the most unsavoury similes.
1 Henry IV (1.2.75)
This sanguine coward, this bed-presser, this horseback-breaker, this huge hill of flesh!
1 Henry IV (2.4.225-6)
‘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 (2.4.227-9)
There’s no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune.
1 Henry IV (3.3.40)
Hang him, swaggering rascal!
2 Henry IV (2.4.66)
I scorn you, scurvy companion.
2 Henry IV (2.4.115)
Away, you mouldy rogue, away!
2 Henry IV (2.4.117)
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!
2 Henry IV (2.4.120-22)
O braggart vile and damned furious wight!
Henry V (2.1.100)
Avaunt, you cullions!
Henry V (3.2.20)
Such antics do not amount to a man.
Henry V (3.2.28)
He is white-livered and red-faced.
Henry V (3.2.30)
They were devils incarnate.
Henry V (2.3.32)
They are hare-brain’d slaves.
1 Henry VI (1.2.38)
Hag of all despite!
1 Henry VI (3.2.54)
Take her away; for she hath lived too long,
To fill the world with vicious qualities.
1 Henry VI (5.4.30-1)
I had rather chop this hand off at a blow,
And with the other fling it at thy face.
3 Henry VI (5.1.51-2)
Thou mis-shapen dick!
3 Henry VI (5.5.35)
Teeth hadst thou in thy head when thou wast born,
To signify thou camest to bite the world.
3 Henry VI (5.6.54-5)
I can see his pride
Peep through each part of him.
Henry VIII (1.1.80-1)
No man’s pie is freed
From his ambitious finger.
Henry VIII (1.1.94)
You are strangely troublesome.
Henry VIII (5.3.112)
You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!
Julius Caesar (1.1.36)
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 Lear (2.2.14-24)
Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter!
King Lear (2.2.61)
King John (4.3.91)
O you beast!
I’ll so maul you and your toasting-iron,
That you shall think the devil is come from hell.
King John (4.3.105)
You are a tedious fool.
Measure for Measure (2.1.113)
O faithless coward! O dishonest wretch!
Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice?
Measure for Measure (3.1.151-3)
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.
Measure for Measure (3.2.56)
A very scurvy fellow.
Measure for Measure (5.1.157)
Thou art a Castilian King urinal!
The Merry Wives of Windsor (2.3.21)
Vile worm, thou wast o’erlook’d even in thy birth.
The Merry Wives of Windsor (5.5.60)
You juggler! you canker-blossom!
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (3.2.293)
I wonder that you will still be talking. Nobody marks you.
Much Ado About Nothing (1.1.104)
My cousin’s a fool, and thou art another.
Much Ado About Nothing (3.4.10)
Men from children nothing differ.
Much Ado About Nothing (5.1.36)
Heaven truly knows that thou art false as hell.
Thy food is such
As hath been belch’d on by infected lungs.
Thou lump of foul deformity!
Richard III (1.2.58)
Thou unfit for any place but hell.
Richard III (1.2.114)
Out of my sight! thou dost infect my eyes.
Richard III (1.2.159)
A knot you are of damned bloodsuckers.
Richard III (3.3.6)
You peasant swain! You whoreson malt-horse drudge!
The Taming of the Shrew(4.1.116)
I shall laugh myself to death at this puppy-headed
The Tempest (2.2.155)
Why, thou deboshed fish thou…Wilt thou tell a monstrous lie, being but half a fish and half a monster?
The Tempest (3.2.29-30)
Why, this hath not a finger’s dignity.
Troilus and Cressida (1.3.204)
Thou bitch-wolf’s son!
Troilus and Cressida (2.1.10)
I think thy horse will sooner con an oration than
thou learn a prayer without book.
Troilus and Cressida (2.1.16-7)
Thou sodden-witted lord! thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows.
Troilus and Cressida (2.1.41)
A fusty nut with no kernel.
Troilus and Cressida (2.1.99)
Go hang yourself, you naughty mocking uncle!
Troilus and Cressida (4.2.31)
Best Shakespearean Comeback
I shall cut out your tongue.
‘Tis no matter, I shall speak as much wit as thou afterwards.
Troilus and Cressida (2.1.106)