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22 of the Best Shakespearean Insults That Still Sting Today

We know the Bard is one of the greatest writers in history, but we had no idea his burns were so savage.

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Shakespeare insults Photo: Shutterstock

A quick jab to the ego

“Thou crusty batch of nature!” From Troilus and Cressida


The lengthy, eloquent synonym for “idiot”

“Why, thou clay brained guts, thou knotty pated fool, thou whoreson obscene greasy tallow catch!” From Henry IV, Part 1


For the grump in your life

“The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes.” From Coriolanus


The most epic way to call out liars

“Heaven truly knows that thou art false as hell.” From Othello

How much of a Shakespeare nerd are you? Take this quiz to find out.

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Shakespearean actorPhoto: Shutterstock

The Shakespearean “your mom” joke

“Villain, I have done thy mother.” From Titus Andronicus

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Married ladies, you know you’re thinking it

“Men from children nothing differ.” From Much Ado About Nothing


I can see clearly—now that you’re gone

“Out of my sight! Thou dost infect my eyes.” From Richard III


When you’re fed up with the world

“Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens!” From As You Like It

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Shakespearean actor in outdoor playPhoto: Shutterstock

For dramatic effect, throw up your hands and shout:

“A foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is man!” From Hamlet


Imma let you finish, but…

“Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood.” From King Lear


Is there a draft, or did you just walk in?

“You have such a February face, so full of frost, of storm and cloudiness.” From Much Ado About Nothing


Because dogs are basically better than humans

“I do wish thou were a dog, that I might love thee something.” From Timon of Athens

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Bearded Victorian actorPhoto: Shutterstock

When “coward” doesn’t get the point across

“Go, prick thy face, and over-red thy fear, thou lily-liver’d boy.” From Macbeth


Can we get some ice for this burn?

“Tempt not too much the hatred of my spirit, for I am sick when I do look on thee.” From A Midsummer Night’s Dream


When the lights are on but nobody’s home

“Thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows.” From Troilus and Cressida


The perfect one-liner

“You basket-hilt stale juggler, you!” From Henry IV, Part 2

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Two Shakespearean actors fightingPhoto: Shutterstock

Ever heard of breath mints?

“You common cry of curs, whose breath I hate, as reek o’ the rotten fens.” From Coriolanus


The origin of “Your mama so fat” (probably)

“No longer from head to foot than from hip to hip. She is spherical, like a globe. I could find out countries in her.” From The Comedy of Errors


When one insult isn’t enough

“You starveling, you eel-skin, you dried neat’s tongue, you bull’s pizzle, you stock-fish!” From Henry IV, Part 1


A comeback that shows your real priorities

“I’d beat thee, but I should infect my hands.” From Timon of Athens


If you run out of things to say

“Thou art as fat as butter.” From Henry IV, Part 1


And if they’re not worth an insult, sever ties already

“I desire that we be better strangers.” From As You Like It

For more epic insults throughout history, check out The Insult Dictionary.

Originally Published on Reader's Digest