16 put-downs from Shakespeare. Insults don’t get more epic

Behold! Your verbal sparring companion

Michael Fassbender as Macbeth, Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth
Michael Fassbender as Macbeth, Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth
(Image credit: REX FEATURES)

Behold! Your verbal sparring companion

This year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. And in tribute to the staggeringly influential Elizabethan playwright we have rounded up our favourite Shakespearean insults. Because we want to be the person to slay with Shakespeare, okay?

Next time you want to settle some business, throw a devastatingly refined insult the way of the person who vexes you. Whoever you’re doing word battle with will be disarmed. Promise. Elizabethan snubs are the best.

The thing is, there’s really no way of wrestling back the upper hand if someone unleashes a torrent of the Bard’s cutting comebacks at you. Shakespeare’s texts are stocked with razor-sharp, drama-charged put-downs that will leave the person on the receiving end speechless.

Behold! Your verbal sparring companion:

1. "I do desire that we may be better strangers." As You Like It

2. "You, minion, are too saucy." The Two Gentlemen of Verona

3. ‘Thou art a natural coward without instinct.’ Henry IV, Part One.

4. "Thy tongue outvenoms all the worms of Nile." Cymbeline

5. "Out of my sight! Thou dost infect my eyes." Richard III


6. "A most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise breaker, the owner of no one good quality." All’s Well That Ends Well

7. "Thou art a flesh-monger, a fool and a coward" Measure for Measure

8. "You have such a February face, so full of frost, of storm and cloudiness." Much Ado About Nothing

9. "More of your conversation would infect my brain." Coriolanus


10. "Thou art like a toad; ugly and venemous." As You Like It

11. "You abilities are too infant-like for doing much alone." Coriolanus

12. "Away, you three inch fool." The Taming of the Shrew

13. "Peace, ye fat guts" Henry IV, Part One

14. "Thou cream-faced loon" Macbeth

15. "They have a plentiful lack of wit." Hamlet

16. "Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood." King Lear

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