Make Your Own Shakespearean Insults (Thou gleeking, crook-pated flap-dragon)!

By David Corbett 

I have it on excellent authority that I’ve been way too serious lately.

So my guardian angel, Mortie, told me to lighten up. Have some fun for once. Slip into some giggles.

No sooner did he say this than I saw this little item on the amazing interweb:

Shakespearean Insults

I saw, I read, I chortled.

WARNING: This is a great way to waste time. Seriously.

Check out the chart below. Pick one word from each column, and precede what you get with “Thou.”

As in:

Thou unmuzzled, rump-fed puttock!

(Feels good to get it out, doesn’t it?)



Don’t you wish you trash-talked like this? Don’t you wish everybody did?

Now, after you’ve limbered up a bit, gotten a few combinations under your belt, gotten so they glide effortlessly off your velvet/acid tongue, you may want to try something bold—like come up with insults for the Murderati member you love (read: despise) most!

Post it in the Comment thread and we’ll all try to guess who you mean!

Or, if you’re lazy (and who isn’t, really?), or just overwhelmed by your go-getter/jetsetter/bedwetter lifestyle, you may prefer to let the help do it for you!

Just match the Murderatero of your choice to one of these pre-selected barbs, chosen judiciously by our trained, conscientious, and dedicated staff.

It’s fun! It’s easy! It’s insulting! 

Match One From This List                                        With One From This List

Thou fawning, fen-sucked barnacle!                         Pari Noskin Taichert

Thou beslubbering, beef-witted clotpole!                   Tania Carver

Thou reeky, onion-eyed scut!                                   David Corbett

Thou fobbing, tickle-brained measle!                         Gar Anthony Haywood

Thou gorbellied, hedge-born wagtail!                         P.D. Martin

Thou yeasty, milk-livered jolthead!                           Zoë Sharp

Thou ruttish, pottle-deep moldwarp!                         Stephen Jay Schwartz

Thou pribbling, sheep-biting mammet!                      Alexandra Sokoloff

BONUS POINTS if you actually know what any of these words mean!

* * * * *

Jukebox Hero of the Week: Continuing on with the light-hearted meme, here’s a spoof on Inglourious Basterds for the grammar sticklers among you (I know you’re out there …): 


26 thoughts on “Make Your Own Shakespearean Insults (Thou gleeking, crook-pated flap-dragon)!

  1. Vince

    And there go the next few minutes.

    It's amazing the power Shakespeare's language continues to have, particularly when given to a talented actor. One of last year's sorely overlooked films was CORIOLANUS, directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes. During an early scene his general confronts a crowd of protestors, dismissing them thusly: "Go, get you home, you fragments!" Fiennes' reading makes that last word sound utterly profane.

  2. Zoë Sharp

    Hmm, I've read through the list of insults and I have my suspicions about which of them you intended for me, David. We shall Have Words next time I see you 🙂

    Meanwhile, you can also have some fun turning place names into insults. There's a town near where I used to live which tourists think is pronounced Longs-lee-dale, but the locals pronounce long-sleddl. There's also one pronounced Wet Sleddle. For northern insults you simply have to add, "Eeh," before it instead of "thou", thusly "Eeh, you great wet sleddle."

    Enjoy 🙂

  3. Sarah W

    This is hilarious–but if you think I'm going to guess which Murderati is a moldwarp (let alone ruttish), you're a churlish, hasty-witted flap-dragon, which I don't believe you are (unless you often dowse yourself in brandy and set yourself alight, but it's not my place to judge).

    I like 'measle,' though, and 'pribbling' sounds like one would need a tissue handy . . .

    Thanks for the early morning laugh, David!

  4. David Corbett

    Dear Vince, thou spleeny, tickle-brained varlet:

    Yeah, CORIOLANUS kinda came and went in a fen-suck, didn't it? I love that play, and really enjoyed Fiennes's interpretation. But the hero's turn at the end — I don't care how lovely the language, it asks a hell of a lot more questions than it answers. Which is fine, and it prompted serious and lively discussion among the three of us who saw it together. But "blame it on mother" doesn't quite get me there. (And yeah: Fragments! Like "baggage" in the list above.)

    Dear Sarah:

    Glad you liked it. Yeah, there's a special place in my heart for moldwarp, pribbling and measle. But you just had to bring up the brandy and the match thing, didn't you, thou bootless, dismal-dreaming giglet.

    Dear Zoë, thou … No, I won't go there:

    Actually, my love, if you know which description I meant for who, you're way ahead of me. (Love the geographic insults. The more obscure the zinger, the more delicious the savor.) I could pore through the website for Brit slang for hours, actually. You may recall that, in Santa Fe, you and I discussed the subtle nuances distinguishing an air biscuit and an air buffet.

  5. Thomas Burchfield

    Thanks for that David. As I recover (we hope) from my illness, it added an extra grin to a wary morning . . . you snot-soaked, bum scratching, nipple tweaker! (I made that up.)

  6. David Corbett

    Farnaz and Thomas:

    Oh man. Foot-licker? Nipple Tweaker? You guys seriously over-estimate how much action I'm getting these days.

    Don't believe what you read on my Facebook page.

    Thomas: Sorry to hear you've been ill. Apparently so ill you can't even follow directions, thou puking, dizzy-eyed whey-face.

  7. Farnaz Calafi

    LOL..David, I'm not sure if foot-licking would be the kind of action you'd like to be getting though 😉

  8. Sue MIllard

    I'd be tempted to add the good old Midlands word "orts" that has been out of use now for three generations. Shakespeare used it in the phrase "abjects, orts and imitations" – things thrown aside as of no use, waste, or bad copies. The phrase has been misinterpreted as "objects, arts and imitations" but I know the word "orts" existed because my grandad used to say when you left food on your plate, "eat it up, I don't want your orts." It would combine well with some of our Cumbrian insults, I think. "Thou's nobbut an ort. Waste of a good skin."

    Mind you in Cumbria we have a great many placenames and hill names that could be used as insults. Zoe Sharp suggested "Eeh, you great wet sleddle." To that I'd like to add, "E's nobbut a Subberthwaite," and "Thou's a Great Cockup."

    I have to go now, I'm feeling a bit Witherslack.

  9. KDJames

    Tee hee. David is good at being silly. Who knew.

    I don't despise any of you over here and since I do actually know what most of these mean, I just can't make myself use them. AHA! I shall call you a roguish rough-hewn miscreant, sir, and you shall take it as the compliment it is if you wish to escape being called an addle-pated sheep-tipping dewberry.

    I love the term hedge-born — I know it's not the intent, but to me it sounds like saying someone is one of the wee fae folk.

    One of my favourite insults is from Monty Python (probably because my daughter recites it with a ridiculous accent):

    "I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries."

    Cracks me up every time.

    Thanks for the levity, David. Sorely needed today.

  10. Scorpio Dragon

    Do we not need the verb "art" after "Thou?" As in Thou ART a yeasty, weather-=bitten wagtail."?

  11. David Corbett

    Erin: Beef-witted does have a lovely charge to it. I also imagine using: liver-witted, cabbage-witted, pudding-brained, etc. In general, there's just something liberating about insults, especially when they combine food with IQ.

    KD: I can live with roguish rough-hewn miscreant. But I'm sure I've been a dewberry on more than one occasion.Though sheep-tipping has to date escaped me.

    Scorpio: I think the exercise was aiming for a form of direct address. As in: Who needs verbs, thou yeasty, pickle-brained pignut! (please please please don't take that personally. I'll have to defend what I said, and I haven't a clue what it means.)

  12. KDJames

    David, if the opportunity presents itself to tip sheep before they escape, I recommend tipping them at least 20 percent, spleeny swag-bellied strumpets though they are, thus avoiding the seriously sucky situation of surly sheep service.

  13. David Corbett

    KD: Oh, dearest wise one, I shall take thy wisdom to my bosom. Surly sheep service — gad!

    Monty: O, thy sow-bellowwing meet-hooked gadfly — be gone!

  14. Bernard Shaw

    reminds me of one of GB Shaw's inuslt:…… "you unnatural son of a she-camel…….'' haha..

  15. David Corbett

    Bernard Shaw (how nice of you to join us!):

    Kinda makes you wonder what the natural son of a she-camel might be, doesn't it? I mean, other than a dromedary. (I know, I know, they're different, I'm just trying to be clever.)

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