Shakespeare’s insults And how to use them in a drama class

Shakespeare lesson idea

A great way to engage your students with Shakespeare and to make then laugh out loud is to get them to create a prepared improvisation duologue.
Using at least 10 of the ‘insults’ below students must work out a duologue, the situation can be as mundane or complicated as you wish.

  • Possible situations:

A lost bag
A break up
An interview
A visit to the cinema
A restaurant
An audition

Once students are in their pairs they can begin to devise their scenes. (As we cannot currently share physical resources in class, it’s a good idea to laminate the sheets and blue tack them up around the class room. This way each duologue has their own sheets and there is no need to touch them.

1. “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 (Act 3, Scene 6)

2. “Away, you starvelling, you elf-skin, you dried neat’s-tongue, bull’s-pizzle, you stock-fish!”

Henry IV Part 1 (Act 2, Scene 4)

3. “Away, you three-inch fool! “

The Taming of the Shrew (Act 4, Scene 1)

4. “Come, come, you froward and unable worms!”

The Taming Of The Shrew (Act 5, Scene 2)

5. “Go, prick thy face, and over-red thy fear, Thou lily-liver’d boy.”

Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 3) Read more quotes from Macbeth

6. “His wit’s as thick as a Tewkesbury mustard.”

Henry IV Part 2 (Act 2, Scene 4)

7. “I am pigeon-liver’d and lack gall.”

Hamlet (Act 2, Scene 2) Read more Hamlet quotes, or our indepth analysis of ‘To be or not to be’

8. “I am sick when I do look on thee “

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act 2, Scene 1)

9. “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)

10. “If thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them.”

Hamlet (Act 3, Scene 1)

11. “I’ll beat thee, but I would infect my hands.”

Timon of Athens (Act 4, Scene 3)

12. “I scorn you, scurvy companion. “

Henry IV Part II (Act 2, Scene 4)

13. “Methink’st thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee.”

All’s Well That Ends Well (Act 2, Scene 3)

14. “More of your conversation would infect my brain.”

Coriolanus (Act 2, Scene 1)

15. “My wife’s a hobby horse!”

The Winter’s Tale (Act 2, Scene 1)

16. “Peace, ye fat guts!”

Henry IV Part 1 (Act 2, Scene 2)

17. “Aroint thee: go away, rump-fed runion: slut”

Macbeth (Act 1 Scene 3)

18. “The rankest compound of villainous smell that ever offended nostril”

The Merry Wives of Windsor (Act 3, Scene 5)

19. “The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes.”

The Comedy of Errors (Act 5, Scene 4)

20. “There’s no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune.”

Henry IV Part 1 (Act 3, Scene 3)

21. “Thine forward voice, now, is to speak well of thine friend; thine backward voice is to utter foul speeches and to detract.”

The Tempest (Act 2, Scene 2)

22. “That trunk of humours, that bolting-hutch of beastliness, that swollen parcel of dropsies, that huge bombard of sack, that stuffed cloak-bag of guts, that roasted Manningtree ox with pudding in his belly, that reverend vice, that grey Iniquity, that father ruffian, that vanity in years?”

Henry IV Part 1 (Act 2, Scene 4)

23. “Thine face is not worth sunburning.”

Henry V (Act 5, Scene 2)

24. “This woman’s an easy glove, my lord, she goes off and on at pleasure.”

All’s Well That Ends Well (Act 5, Scene 3)

25. “Thou art a boil, a plague sore”

King Lear (Act 2, Scene 2)

26. “Was the Duke a flesh-monger, a fool and a coward?”

Measure For Measure (Act 5, Scene 1)

27. “Thou art as fat as butter.”

Henry IV Part 1 (Act 2, Scene 4)

28. “Here is the babe, as loathsome as a toad.”

Titus Andronicus (Act 4, Scene 3)

29. “Like the toad; ugly and venomous.”

As You Like It (Act 2, Scene 1`)

30. “Thou art unfit for any place but hell.”

Richard III (Act 1 Scene 2)

31. “Thou cream faced loon”

Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 3)

32. “Thou clay-brained guts, thou knotty-pated fool, thou whoreson obscene greasy tallow-catch!”

Henry IV Part 1 (Act 2, Scene 4 )

33. “Thou damned and luxurious mountain goat.”

Henry V (Act 4, Scene 4)

34. “Thou elvish-mark’d, abortive, rooting hog!”

Richard III (Act 1, Scene 3 )

35. “Thou leathern-jerkin, crystal-button, knot-pated, agatering, puke-stocking, caddis-garter, smooth-tongue, Spanish pouch!”

Henry IV Part 1 (Act 2, Scene 4)

36. “Thou lump of foul deformity”

Richard III (Act 1, Scene 2)

37. “That poisonous bunch-back’d toad!”

Richard III (Act 1, Scene 3)

38. “Thou sodden-witted lord! Thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows “

Troilus and Cressida (Act 2, Scene 1)

39. “Thou subtle, perjur’d, false, disloyal man!”

The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Act 4, Scene 2)

40. “Thou whoreson zed , thou unnecessary letter!”

King Lear (Act 2, Scene 2 )

41. “Thy sin’s not accidental, but a trade.”

Measure For Measure (Act 3, Scene 1)

42. “Thy tongue outvenoms all the worms of Nile.”

Cymbeline (Act 3, Scene 4)

43. “Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon”

Timon of Athens (Act 4, Scene 3)

44. “Would thou wouldst burst!”

Timon of Athens (Act 4, Scene 3)

45. “You poor, base, rascally, cheating lack-linen mate! “

Henry IV Part II (Act 2, Scene 4)

46. “You are as a candle, the better burnt out.”

Henry IV Part 2 (Act 1, Scene 2)

47. “You scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian! I’ll tickle your catastrophe!”

Henry IV Part 2 (Act 2, Scene 1)

48. “You starvelling, you eel-skin, you dried neat’s-tongue, you bull’s-pizzle, you stock-fish–O for breath to utter what is like thee!-you tailor’s-yard, you sheath, you bow-case, you vile standing tuck!”

Henry IV Part 1 (Act 2, Scene 4)

49. “Your brain is as dry as the remainder biscuit after voyage.”

As You Like It (Act 2, Scene 7)

50. “Virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese.”

All’s Well That Ends Well (Act 1, Scene 1)

51. “Villain, I have done thy mother”

Titus Andronicus (Act 4, Scene 2)

52. “Heaven truly knows that thou art false as hell”

Othello (Act 4, Scene 2)

53. “Out of my sight! Thou dost infect mine eyes.”

Richard III (Act 1, Scene 2)

54. “No longer from head to foot than from hip to hip, she is spherical, like a globe; I could find countries in her.”

The Comedy of Errors (Act 3, Scene 2)

55. “You have such a February face, So full of frost, of storm, and cloudiness.”

Much Ado About Nothing (Act 5, Scene 4)