7 Epic Burns in the Tales of Shakespeare

Cody Nailor

Cody Nailor
PR Associate

The English language owes a great debt to master storyteller and poet, William Shakespeare. He is credited with creating over 1700 words, and many of his iconic plays have included phrases and idioms that are still in use today, over 400 years since they were originally written. Within his works, Shakespeare also crafted many insults which were subtle, clever, and really dramatic. Below are some of our favorites (in no particular order):

1. “She hath more hair than wit, and more faults than hairs, and more wealth than faults.” –Two Gentlemen of Verona

Modern Translation: “It doesn’t matter that she’s as dumb as a doornail and annoys me a lot – she’s filthy rich.”

Basically, people have been golddiggers for centuries.

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2. “Drunkenness is his best virtue, for he will be swine drunk, and in his sleep he does little harm, save to his bedclothes about him.” –All’s Well That Ends Well

Modern Translation: “He’s really only tolerable to be around when he’s passed out, drunk. He doesn’t really say much then.”

We’ve all got that friend who’s really only fun when they’re plastered.

via GIPHY

3. “[Thou art] a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson, glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch.” –King Lear

Modern Translation (in more or less words, okay definitely more): “You son of a bitch.”

Memorize this, and you can confuse someone AND call them an S.O.B. at the same time.

4. “And thou unfit for anyplace but hell.” –Richard III

Modern Translation: Taking “Go to hell.” One step further – what are you even doing here? You should only be in hell.

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5. “You scullion. You rampallian. You fustilarian. I’ll tickle your catastrophe.” –Henry IV

Modern Translation: “You scullion. You rampallian. You fustilarian. I’ll whoop your ass.” Scullion, rampallian, and fustilarian all basically mean “slave” or “servant” but those rolling L’s are far more fun to say.

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6. “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

Modern Translation: “Tell your mom last night was great.”

While “your mom” jokes have been around since 3,500 B.C. or so, this is certainly a notable use of the classic dig.

via GIPHY

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

Modern Translation: “She’s as wide as she is tall. She so fat, I could use her body to map out the world, like a globe.”

If you’re gonna call someone fat, why not go all the way?

via GIPHY

Many of our modern insults are similar to the phrases Shakespeare crafted in his plays, but hardly any are as colorful. Much of the Bard’s genius is wrapped up in the delivery of these well crafted insults, they’re often served with the goal that the person being insulted is none the wiser. They would be perfect to try out on your friends as a way of adding some spice and flavor to your conversations.

Museum Hack is not responsible for any loss of friendships accrued during the deployment of these insults.

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