Research: Shakespeare the king of insults

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They say the pen is mightier than the sword. It must be true, because when it comes to insults, modern man has nothing on the bard, who literally made up many words still in today’s English dictionaries.

So if you’re going to let someone have it, at least make it memorable.

“Away, you starveling, you elf-skin, you dried neat’s-tongue, bull’s-pizzle, you stock-fish!” — Henry IV, Part I (Act 2, Scene 4)

“I’ll beat thee, but I would infect my hands.” — Timon of Athens (Act 4, Scene 3)

“More of your conversation would infect my brain.” — The Comedy of Errors (Act 2, Scene 1)

“The rankest compound of villainous smell that ever-offended nostril” — The Merry Wives of Windsor (Act 3, Scene 5)

“There’s no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune.” — Henry IV Part 1 (Act 3, Scene 3)

“Thou art a boil, a plague sore.” — King Lear (Act 2, Scene 2)

“Thou cream-faced loon” — Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 3)

“Thou damned and luxurious mountain goat.” —Henry V (Act 4, Scene 4)

“Thy brain is as dry as a biscuit after the voyage.” — As You Like It (Act 2, Scene 7)

“Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon” — Timon of Athens (Act 4, Scene 3)

“You scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian! I’ll tickle your catastrophe!” — Henry IV Part 2 (Act 2, Scene 1)

And finally, the Queen Mother of Shakespearean insults:

“That trunk of humours, that bolting-hutch of beastliness, that swollen parcel of dropsies, that huge bombard of sack, that stuffed cloak-bag of guts, that roasted Manningtree ox with pudding in his belly, that reverend vice, that grey Iniquity, that father ruffian, that vanity in years?” — Henry IV Part 1 (Act 2, Scene 4)

•••

Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network who strives to limit insults to the silent confines of her remainder-biscuit brain. Infect it at thy peril at Sholeh@cdapress.com.

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