This morning my alarm went off, and I started my day with the pleasant thought,

“Shut up, you rat-faced mother fucker!”

I reflected on this with some satisfaction, as my iPhone now knew I was not someone to be taking any shit, but also with a little disquiet. My word choice was a bit… harsh. And while no one can deny there’s a certain ring to “Fuck you, you fucking fuck,” I feel like there’s room for improvement.

The best insults combine creativity and intelligence into one well placed, satisfying slap in the face that resounds with a nice CRACK and brings a smile to your lips. A “fuck you” derivative is a punch in the lumpy gut, inspiring an “oompf” from the receiver, but no real pleasure for the inflictor. When you scream “fuck you!” it’s usually in the heat of the moment, and you end up having to apologize. A well crafted insult, however, shows you are still cool, calm, and collected. You have your wits about you and have done proper analysis of your foe’s short comings to deliver this individualized, crafted, gift. It’s not a bitch slap, it’s a gentleman’s, let me take off my white glove first, slap. You feel no need to recant, because you meant what you said, and anyway, no one should be disavowing a work of art like you’ve produced.

Now anyone who has made it through high school knows to whom the young acolyte should go to learn the ways of the grand master insulter: William Shakespeare. So today, I would like to pay tribute to some of my favorite insults of his, and bring inspiration to us all who aspire to better ourselves.

How vast an upgrade Shakespeare makes to insults of the dumb-fuck, fuck-tard variety:

You abilities are too infant-like for doing much alone.

Coriolanus (2.1.36)

You had measured how long a fool you were upon the ground.

Cymbeline (1.2.26)

I shall cut out your tongue.

‘Tis no matter, I shall speak as much wit as thou afterwards.

Troilus and Cressida (2.1.106)

Men from children nothing differ.

Much Ado About Nothing (5.1.36)

Confusion now hath made his masterpiece!


[Your] brain is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage.

As You Like It


Where we’ve left ourselves with a pitifully depleted vocabulary weak with words like schmooze and gold-digger, look at the skill he displays to cooly scorn someone’s social endeavors:

I wonder that you will still be talking. Nobody marks you.

Much Ado About Nothing (1.1.104)

More of your conversation would infect my brain.

Coriolanus (2.1.91)

[Thou art] a very superficial, ignorant, unweighing fellow.

Measure for Measure

I will most humbly take my leave of you.

You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I will not more willingly part withal.


No man’s pie is freed from his ambitious finger.

Henry VIII (1.1.94)

Such inordinate and low desires,
Such poor, such bare, such lewd, such mean attempts,
Such barren pleasures, rude society,
As thou art match’d withal, and grafted to!

Henry IV, part I

Methink’st thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee.

All’s Well That Ends Well


And never would he deign to use words so crude as fat-ass or fugly. (Although I do think there’s something psychologically clever about fugly. It’s a soft word, but does’t it immediately evoke the image of a wrinkly pug?)

[Thou] sanguine coward, [thou] bed-presser, [thou] horseback-breaker, [thou] huge hill of flesh!

Henry IV, part I

The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes.

Coriolanus (5.4.18)

Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon!

Timon of Athens

Thou hast the most unsavoury similes.

Henry IV (1.2.75)

Thou wert best set thy lower part where thy nose stands.

All’s Well That Ends Well

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



And everyone must admire Shakespeare’s sheer creativity:

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)

You starvelling, you eel-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

Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood.

King Lear

What, you egg! Young fry of treachery!


Thou elvish-mark’d, abortive, rooting hog!

Richard III


He knew how to hit someone where it hurts:

Your virginity, your old virginity is like one of our French wither’d pears: it looks ill, it eats drily.

All’s Well That Ends Well

Your virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese.

All’s Well That Ends Well

[Thou art] 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


I personally appreciate the short and sweet:

Thou mis-shapen dick!

Henry VI (5.5.35)


And can you imagine how much fun we would all have shouting this instead of “fuck off”?

Avaunt, you cullions!

Henry V (3.2.20)

I scorn you, scurvy companion. What, you poor, base, rascally, cheating, lack-linen mate! Away, you moldy rogue, away!

Henry IV, part 2


So let’s conclude with a final collection of quotations delivered, surprisingly fittingly, by cats.

And go out into the world with a healthy eagerness to improve ourselves… at others’ expense.



PPs. for further inspiration:

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