Professor Wu's Rulebook

The wit of the bard: 100 of Shakespeare’s greatest insults


With recent news that a new copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio has been discovered on a Scottish island, we’ve been thinking of ways to celebrate the works of the bard. With his 400th Anniversary fast approaching (fortunately you only have to remember one date for both his birth and his death – 23rd April), we racked our brains and thought it was high time we brought to your attention this wonderful infographic of Shakespearean insults.

Created by Charley Chartwell, and available for the very reasonable price of just over £20, you can purchase a copy of this Grand Taxonomy of Shakesperean Insults here.

The wonderful poster will come in handy in this modern age of Twittersphere rants, rages and online trolls: what better way to deal with someone telling you to impolitely go away, than by calling them a canker blossom or a viperous worm? We certainly can’t think of any.

Indeed, your comeback repertoire is in line for a nifty upgrade, where you can take Shakespeare’s dagger-like wit and make it your own. The poster features 100 of his greatest put downs and zingers.

Divided into various sections – including ‘personal attributes’ (try “thou knotty pated fool”), ‘bodily qualities’ (try “thou thing of no bowles, thou”), and ‘professions’ (in an age of political scandal, “scurvy politician” has a certain ring to it) – you can easily choose which retort is most appropriate for whatever situation you find yourself in.

Featuring lines from a variety of Shakespeare’s plays, including Richard III, Henry VI, All’s Well that Ends Well and Hamlet, we thought we’d pick out a few of our favourites, which we’ve listed here:

“Go, ye giddy goose!” – Henry IV, Part I

“There’s no more faith in thee than a stewed prune!”Henry IV, Part I

“You heedless jolt-heads” – The Taming of the Shrew

You sanctimonious pirate” – Measure for Measure

“Thou damned and luxurious mountain goat” – Henry V

“You canker blossom!” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

But of course, we want to know what you think! Which of these will you be using in your next online trolling battle, or quick-witted response when Muriel from Accounting tells you your company expenses form is all out of whack? Let us know in the comments below!

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