For National Talk Like Shakespeare Day this April 23rd, Bookstr thought about some Elizabethan era insults provided by our favorite poet. Whether you’ve studied Shakespeare in your English classes or you are simply a fan of the Bard and his many, many works, Shakespeare is one of the first names anyone may think of when we consider literature. And, if you’re thinking about Shakespeare, then you remember the difficulty we had reading and struggling to understand his Shakespearean lingo. From “thou” to “Malmsey” to “Puissance”, it is mutually agreed on knowledge that it takes quite a bit of deciphering to understand his writing. When we finally understand it, we realize how truly clever and unique his words are.
If you’re looking forward to celebrate, these could be some useful phrases to throw at (and confuse) your Shakespeare uncultured enemies!
1. “There’s small choice in rotten apples.” – Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew
In other words: “There’s not much room for choice if all your options are bad.”
Best to use: When you’re trying to offend more than one person, this Shakespearean insult works to insult multiple people at once! Or, alternatively, if you want to unleash a particularly spiteful throwaway when talking about multiple people behind their back (not recommended, to their face is much better), this would make a great, sly comment to a third party.
2. “Thou hateful wither’d hag!” – Shakespeare’s Richard III
In order words: “You terrible, evil wench/hag!”
Best to use: Pretty straightforward and open-ended in regards to who you want to throw this insult at. However, words such as “hag” or “wench” imply oldness and decrepit-ness in women, so the younger the woman you throw this phrase at, the more personally insulting!
3. “I’ll beat thee, but I would infect my hands.” – Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens
In other words: “I would fight you, but I do not want to risk getting an infection from making contact with you”
Best to use: If you want to have this insult be taken in a more conversational sense, then what better time to talk about infections than in a pandemic. But, if you’re looking for the insulting pathway, then this could be directed at someone who does want to fight you. However, instead of using your hands, you beat their ego with your words, and avoid a potential fight you don’t want to risk losing!
4. “Villain, I have done thy mother.”- Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus
In other words: “Villain, I have had sexual relations with your mother!”
Best to use: A classic! Even in Elizabethan times, what better insult is there than the traditional “your mom” jokes? These jokes may be directed at anyone, but preferably to those who actually have mothers. There’s no better way to get someone emotionally wounded than declaring your intimacy with their parents!
5. “Away, you three-inch fool!” – Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew
In other words: “Get away from me, you small, small, idiot!”
Best to use: A perfect insult to throw at a man that needs to get his ego downsized! Whether you intend this insult towards their short stature, or, ahem, other small features, this is a perfect go-to if you intend on avoiding and keeping away a man that gets on your nerves!