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.
OK Here goes – this is a ‘Rank Hell-hated Maggot-pie’ kind of exercise. LOL Yeah, I know. Pretty sad attempt…
Cheryl, haha I can feel your love of poetry in that insult! Thou art a loggerheaded weather-bitten measle!
Thou Elf Skinned!
My all time favorite smile thus far!! xx
Kim, methinks your insult is incomplete. I shall fill in the rest: Thou bawdy elf-skinned puttock!
I LOVE ME SOME SHAKESPEARE INSULTS. My mother bought me a magnetic puzzle for my refrigerator made up of Shakespearean insults. “I would challenge you to a battle of wits, but I see you are unarmed!”
Thou artless common-kissing barnacle.
Thou saucy ill-breeding maggot-pie.
Thou infectious toad-spotted wart
Thou bawdy and forward, thee shall become a dizzy-eyed foot-licker.
LOL! I saw the word churlish and could not stop laughing. It reminded me of the video from Key & Peele, The Substitute Teacher. He says churlish at 2:39/2:40. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd7FixvoKBw
Denise, woot! Thou hast insulted me four times. Thou art a warped motley-minded miscreant!
Thou dankish clotpole! Thou hast got my birth date confused with the day I drew my final breath. Tis known I was born on or near 23rd April 1564 and finally departed this world on 23rd April 1616.
thou jarring, guts-griping harpy, thou!
William Shakespeare Esq.
Anne, I stand corrected and have fixed the error in the above post. Yes, it would seem I am a dankish clotpole!
Thou churlish tardy-gaited nut-hook
Jon, thou craven boil-brained barnacle!
I have been trying on several of these and laughing my head off. When I first read the title what immediately popped into my head was, “My mistresses eyes are nothing like the the sun.” I always loved that poem because it so eloquently puts drippy, syrup laden poetry in its place or should I say, it puts the right spotlight on “fawning, fool-born, foot-licker poetry. 🙂
Brilliant tables! Just insulted all my friends! 🙂
Charli, now that’s what I like to hear! Thou fobbing dizzy-eyed minnow!
Thou lumpish weedy wart , thou has yet again made us work, thou droning, horn-beast miscreant. Great stuff, oh queen of thou!!!
A.K., why don’t you tell me how you really feel 😉 Thou currish boil-brained harpy!
Thankee for the visit to my blog (I couldn’t re-blog, so did the next best thing and linked it to you) it was just too good to NOT share – Thou Tickle-Brained Spleeny Plume-plucked Nut-hook LOL 😀 😀 😀
Chris, thanks so much for sharing my post – Thou puny rump-fed giglet!
thou knotty-patted saucy cankerblossom
I have no idea what I just said – hope it puts a smile to your lips 🙂
Sandy, thou puking ill-nurtured boar-pig you have indeed put a smile on my face!
Methinks a mewling, mammering mammet mamywarps the muggly-minded… (okay I made up one in honor of the bard) Very amusing!
Jan, thou earth-vexing base-court varlet! Thou hast a hankering for alliterative invective 😉
These are soooooo good!
I just want to call someone at the mail order pharmacy my health insurance company insists I use and say,
“Thou gorbellied, clay-brained moldwarp, art thou employing bootless, fly-bitten wagtails instead of the U.S. Mail?”
Candy, thou forward flap-mouthed dewberry! I think I would like to tell my mail order pharmacy the very same thing.
Thou beslubbering clapper-clawed barnacle.
This post took you some time to put together. Great stuff.
Lenie, thou paunchy feeling-ripe nut-hook! This post came from the depths of my files back from my teaching days. I’ve been wanting to share my insult chart forever, and my posts for National Poetry Month finally gave me a reason to do so.
How fun. Mine would be: Thou loggerheaded, fly-bitten, warped, tickled-brained wagtail. So there… LOL. 🙂
Susan, oh yeah… thou jarring guts-griping skainsmate! Take that!
This is so remarkable dear Jeri… I admire Mr Shakespeare so much.
And even his insults are witty and with blend tones of the purest Form of literature
“You scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian! I’ll tickle your catastrophe!” (W.S Henry IV Part 2)
Best wishes, Aquileana 🙂
Aquileana, thou mangled sheep-biting harpy! Thanks so much for the link. I pinned the insult image to my Pinterest page.
This comes from Bruce, not me. He thinks you are Artless bettle-headed barnacle of paunchy ill-breeding…he got carried away. My apologies. Tim
Tim, you are forgiven. Let Bruce the Traveling Kiwi know that he s a saucy hell-hated wart!
I once bought the Shakespearean insult gum for a friend. What fun to be able to create so many Shakespearean insults.
Donna, thou dankish doghearted flap-dragon! I’m hope your friend enjoyed their insult gum as much as I did mine. Who know? There’s also band-aides, coffee mugs, folder, and pencils too.
What fun! I had a hard time choosing; there are indeed ultimate insults – so I decided to go with
“Thou saucy clapper-clawed strumpet!”
Think I will be referring to these tables in the future! 🙂
SP, you are too bold! Thou fawing dizzy-eyed coxcomb!
Why You beslubbering Bettle-headed Joithead You. Get thee to a younameit!
Larry, you doth protest too much! Thou wayward motley-minded baggage!
*grinning* this is too fun.
Thou lumpish fen-sucked varlet!
Beth, thou fool-born earth-vexing flax-wench!
Hilarious and awesome, and you are very brave! My dad always says that those who resort to cursing simply lack vocabulary. So with that said, here goes…Thou lumpish tickle-brained minnow!
Meredith, your father is a wise man 😉 Thou frothy tardy-gaited horn-beast!
Thou mewling knotty-pated flap-dragon!
This is totally fun, what a great idea, Jeri! I’m glad that my little packet in the post inspired you so, and thanks for the blog link. 🙂
Laura, see what your gift of gum has wrought upon the land! Thou infectious tickle-brained mumble-news!
Thou art a milk-livered, beslubbering clotpole! That’s just brutal.
Edward, thou fobbing folly-fallen canker-blossom!
This is so much fun, thou fawning, flap-mouthed, foot licker! Ooops, not you Jeri! I’ve got to leave because I keep finding more combinations that are so much fun.
Jeannette, I’ve been insulting people here and on Twitter all day and I think I have yet to repeat myself! Thou qualling knotty-pated moldwarp!
Given the Canadian love of alliteration I choose Thou Craven Clapper clawed Clack-dish !
Paul, gotta love alliteration 🙂 Thou fawning flap-mouth foot-licker!
Thou reeky, elf-skinned lout
I’m doing something like this for school and I found this
Thanks for chiming in!
Thy tongue outvenoms all the worms of Nile.
Paulette, thou droning bat-fowling pigeon-egg!
Oh, thou impertinent saucy nut-hook. See now what thou hast made us all become–fawning bettle-headed strumpets. Thou shall die a flea’s death for such wiles.
P.S. Laura gave me a set of the insult bubble-gums too and I used them in a tense meeting–like a pin to a balloon, the tension popped.
I’m totally stealing this idea for my blog (but won’t plagiarize your table).
Jagoda, isn’t Laura the best? Feel fee to use my table too is you use. The printout has my website address on the bottom. Thanks for joining in on the insult-fest 🙂 Thou puny clay-brained measle!
Jeri, you are brilliant! I love this.
Thou fobbing, dizzy-eyed, skainsmate!
Thou gleeking, clapper-clawed, maggot-pie.
I feel so empowered now. Great therapy. Happy birthday, William.
Grace, hurling Shakespearean insults is indeed empowering. Thou spleeny knotty-pated bum-bailey!
Thou dankish sheep-biting minnow! You just slapped up the Yorkshire language there! …. But… You did miss ol’ trout and toe-rag lmao ; ) Wow and there I am still calling Hedgehogs ‘Hedgepigs’ Maybe I was just born in the wrong era… giggles
Claire, you are our expert resident on the lingo. Thou churlish boil-brained malt-worm!
Such a fun post, Jeri! You know I had to tweet the link!
Ashley, thanks for the tweet. Now I must show my gratitude by insulting you… Thou fobbing earth-vexing strumpet!
I am just never going to tire of this game, you impertinent tottering harpy! 🙂
I am using it in school, tomorrow, with my exam students. It will be brill!!
Gerry, have at it. Students really like this one. Thou forward crook-pated ratsbane!
So much fun!! 😀 Thou hasty-witted rank mammet — oh my oh my Jeri!!!
Christy, my oh my indeed. I think I’ve set some kind of record for hurling insults these last few days between my comments here and on Twitter 🙂 Thou dankish base-court mugger!
How fun, the possibilities are endless. I think I’ll skip on milkshake for awhile after seeing malt-worm.
Christina, thou puking knotty-pated malt-worm! Now get thee to a chocolate shake 😉
I can see how stress releaving this is with the comments up there….good exercise lol. Thou beattle headed, onion eyed mammet.
Welli, why thank you. Thou goatish common-kissing nut-hook!
You yeasty toad-spotted half faced horn-beast.. how was that.. This is a great little exercise.
Jay, that was awesome! Thou artless motley-minded pumpion!
I feel like an Artless, Surly Wag-Tail!
I need a ton of patience to read Shakespeare – I enjoy movies and plays when it comes to Sir William!
Laurie, thou craven doghearted canker-blossom! Shakespeare does take patience. When I took a Comedies and Romances class in college I would read the play, listen to the play on record, and then read it again. Thrice was the ticket. I can’t believe some of the stuff was still on record back in the year 20000 or so.
Genius Jeri, you half-faced hedge-pig!
Greg, thou bootless boil-brained bladder!
This exercise has been bolitin-hutch of beatliness for one like me who doesn’t know how to write.
Arleen, you can too write! Thou impertinent dread-bolted minnow!
This sounds like a Monty-Python routine. Clever and amusing. Here’s a fun Yiddish curse: “May you grow like an onion with your head in the ground.”
Leora, I need to do a post on parody someday. That way I could include a Monty-Python clip 🙂 Thou puny, reeling-rip maggot pie!
I really enjoyed this creative way of getting students familiar with and interested in Shakespeare. I’ve never heard of the insult gum. What an interesting idea. Thank you.
Wake up! Thou art a bootless, bettleheaded lout! So there.
Michele, apparently there is insult bandage gum as well. Thou bootless, earth-vexing minnow!
Thou impertinent,boil-brained foot-licker lmao.
Jason, thou errant fen-sucked flap-dragon!
When I got your tweet I thought, “What????” This is so funny. Am thinking of incorporating into one of the popular Tweet days. Thanks Jeri.
Pat, Shakespearean insults are a great way to let off steam. Thou artless fly-bitten watgail!
Thou bootless, doghearted foot-licker.
Andleeb, ouch! Thou spongy rude-growing nut-hook!
Jerri, these are great! I’m late I know; I posted a sonnet I wrote on my blog on the occasion of the bard’s birthday. Shall I insult myself or you for missing out on this fun? I subscribed to your blog methinks only yesterday. Ok, I’ll insult you first, thou currish clay-brained malt-worm!
Irina, that smarts! Thou mammering clapper-clawed minnow!
Thou goatish knotty-patted harpy!