Not too long ago, a blogger friend of mine sent me a pack of gum in the mail. Mind you, it wasn’t any gum. It was Shakespearean Insult Gum. Laura Zera totally made my day by sending me lines of invective language encased in such clever packaging. As my posts for National Poetry Month draw to a close and because April 23 is also William Shakespeare’s birthday, I would like to invite you to hurl a few Shakespearean insults. Ready. Set. Go.
Even if you’re not a huge fan of Shakespeare or of poetry, hurling Shakespearean insults can be a great deal of fun. When I was a teacher, I would get students interested in Shakespeare’s use of language by having them make insults at one another and at me. Many of the words are archaic and no longer commonly used, but that just makes it all the more fun. Plus, the insults just sound so dirty, and appealing to base humor never hurts.
William Shakespeare was born in 1564 and died in 1616, and the Elizabethan English of his works often leaves readers feeling daunted. No writer before or since has managed to have such a huge impact on the English language. Shakespeare coined thousands of words and phrases we use to this day. The iambic pentameter he wrote in actually mimics English’s natural rhythms. It’s especially interesting that Shakespeare’s more noble characters tend to speak in verse (poetic lines) while the more bawdy characters often speak in prose (common language).
To help you spread the joy of Shakespearean insults near and far, I’ve made a Make your own Shakespearean Insults table that offers endless possibilities for insulting others poetically. To make your own insult, pick one word from each of the three columns. Preface it with the word thou. For better screen readability, I’ve broken down the table into two images, or you can click on the link above to download a copy for personal use.
Don’t hold back! Let those insults rip. There’s no need to stay within the same row. Any three columns of a different color will do.
Take this light-hearted activity for what it is and rest easy that speaking Shakespearean-sounding lines doesn’t need to be total drag. It can actually be quite fun!
Thou goatish mammering pignut! By all means, insult me by leaving your best Shakespearean insult in the comment below.
Help poetically insult others by sharing this post as well.
The gum image used in this post is for promotional use only and complies with fair use guidelines. By all means, feel free to download the Shakespearean insult provided above and use it as you see fit.
Article by Jeri Walker-Bickett aka JeriWB.