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What are some examples of Shakespeare's insults?

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Quick Answer

Shakespeare's works deliver short insults such as beef-witted, hell-hated, fly-bitten, milk-livered and reeky, and more complex insults such as "A most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise breaker, the owner of not one good quality." Insults appear in both the comedies and tragedies of William Shakespeare.

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Full Answer

Other short, adjectival insults from Shakespeare's plays include warped, ill-nurtured, motley-minded, boil-brained and goatish. Additional Shakespearean invectives include mewling, quailing, fat-kidneyed, doghearted, idle-headed and ill-breeding.

Some insulting nouns from Shakespeare are pignut, puttock, trumpet, varlet, wag-tail and maggot-pie as well as canker-blossom, clot-pole, foot-licker, hedge-pig, horn-beast (cuckold) and cod-piece.

"As You Like It" includes the insult, "Thou art like a toad; ugly and venomous."

In "Henry IV, Part II," a character says, "You scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian! I’ll tickle your catastrophe!"

In "King Lear," a character launches a mother insult: "Thou art the son and heir of a mongrel bitch."

In "Henry IV, Part I" Shakespeare wrote this tirade: "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!"

In "Richard III," a character says, "Out of my sight! thou dost infect my eyes."

"As You Like It" includes this elegant insult: "I do desire that we may be better strangers."

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