Our Favorite Shakespearean Insults

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Rebecca Renner

Staff Writer

Rebecca Renner is a writer and editor out of South Florida. Her essays have been featured in the Washington Post, New York Magazine, and Glamour. A seventh-generation Floridian, Rebecca's main area of study has been the ecology, culture, and downright weirdness of her home. When not reading, hiking, blogging, traveling, exploring, or playing with her dog Daisy Buchanan (and never sleeping!), Rebecca binge watches TV shows like The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and plots world domination via Twitter. Twitter: @RebeccaRennerFL Blog:

We all know Ol’ Billy Shakes has a way with words, but his biggest talent, in my opinion, was for the artisanally crafted sick burn. It takes a true Shakespeare nerd to have a favorite Shakespearean insult. There is at least one solid roasting in every play. You’re in luck, because we at Book Riot are chock full of nerds and favorites.

Without further ado, here are our favorite Shakespearean insults. Wield them with care, and skewer your opponents with your rapier wit.

“Away, you three-inch fool!” —The Taming of the Shrew (Act 3, Scene 3)

Rebecca Renner

“For I must tell you friendly in your ear, sell when you can; you are not for all markets.” —As You Like It (Act 3, Scene 5)

Susie Dumond

“Away, thou tedious rogue! I am sorry I shall lose a stone by thee.”
(Throws a stone at him) —Timon of Athens (Act 4, Scene 3)

Susie Dumond


    (Stabbing him)     What, you egg?

Young fry of treachery!” —Macbeth (Act 4, Scene 2)

Abby Hargreaves

“I do desire we may be better strangers.” —As You Like It (Act III, Scene 2)

Jessica Pryde

“I am sick when I do look on thee.” —A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act 2, Scene 1)

Lacey deShazo

“ABRAM: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

romeo and juliet william shakespeare cover greek or roman mythSAMPSON: I do bite my thumb, sir.

ABRAM: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?” —Romeo and Juliet (Act 1, Scene 1)

Grace Lapointe

“Go prick thy face, and over-red thy fear,

Thou lily-liver’d boy.” —Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 3)

Grace Lapointe

“Thou art a boil,

A plague-sore or embossèd carbuncle

In my corrupted blood.” —King Lear (Act 2, Scene 4)

Alison Doherty

“I do desire we may be better strangers.” —As You Like It (Act 3, Scene 2)

Aimee Miles

“Get you gone, you dwarf,

You minimus of hindering knotgrass made,

You bead, you acorn!” —A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act 3, Scene 2)

Katherine Willoughby

“Demetrius: Villain, what hast thou done?
Aaron: That which thou canst not undo.
Chiron: Thou hast undone our mother.
Aaron: Villain, I have done thy mother.” —Titus Andronicus (Act 4, Scene 2)

Rachel Brittain

Anne: “Out of my sight! Thou dost infect mine eyes.” —Richard III (Act 1, Scene 2)

Kate Krug

“Marry, sir, she’s the kitchen wench, and all grease, and I know not what use to put her to but to make a lamp of her and run from her by her own light.” —A Comedy of Errors (Act III, scene ii)

Mary Kay McBrayer

Cover of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare in Six Books to Help You Beware the Ides of March |“You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!” —Julius Caesar (Act I scene i)

Kathleen Keenan

“Beetle-headed flap-ear’d knave,” —The Taming of the Shrew (Act IV, Scene I)

Danielle Bourgon

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

Dana Lee

“Slanders, sir. For the satirical rogue says here that old men have gray beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum, and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams—all which, sir, though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down; for yourself, sir, should be old as I am, if like a crab you could go backward.” —Hamlet, (Act 2, Scene 8)

Priya Sridhar

We bid you adieu, but first: what are your favorite Shakespearean insults? Drop your favorite in the comments section and join in the fun.

[Exit, pursued by a bear.]