How to swear like Shakespeare

Don’t you know how to swear, you beslubbering, rump-fed bum-bailey?

We think we’re so creative with our four letter curse words and our revolting insults, don’t we? Well, we’re not. I don’t know about you, but when in the throws of a violent tantrum or when simply enraged at something or someone, there is nothing more cathartic than bellowing a shocking string of naughty words…so long as they do indeed shock and horrify. This method of de-stressing is obsolete however, when one’s choice words become standard, everyday terms, recycled more often than they’re worth. We have no idea how uncreative and unimaginative our profanity bank has become; we reuse the same five or six words over and over again and as a result, our small and boring vocabulary of swear words has begun to hold little weight and very rarely makes much of an impact.

Shakespeare however, knew how to coin a juicy insult. Renowned for introducing numerous words to our dictionaries, this oddity of a playwright was never deterred by a lack of suitable words, simply creating his own to suit the occasion. Fortunately for us, this liberal approach to language extended beyond the analytical and the adjectival, delving deeply into the wonderful world of wicked words!

Fed up with calling your arch-nemesis the same thing every time he infuriates you? Why not use Shakespeare’s tools and create your own satisfying, descriptive, dirty insult? I found this useful table on a website this morning and thought you might be able to find a few occasions on which to experiment with it… From each column, pick a word that warms your hateful heart, join your three choices together and voilà – you have yourself a revolting insult that’ll shock and horrify your enemies, siblings and sporting opponents into submission. And you won’t even be breaking any rules…

Column 1 Column 2 Column 3
artless base-court apple-john
bawdy bat-fowling baggage
beslubbering beef-witted barnacle
bootless beetle-headed bladder
churlish boil-brained boar-pig
cockered clapper-clawed bugbear
clouted clay-brained bum-bailey
craven common-kissing canker-blossom
currish crook-pated clack-dish
dankish dismal-dreaming clotpole
dissembling dizzy-eyed coxcomb
droning doghearted codpiece
errant dread-bolted death-token
fawning earth-vexing dewberry
fobbing elf-skinned flap-dragon
froward fat-kidneyed flax-wench
frothy fen-sucked flirt-gill
gleeking flap-mouthed foot-licker
goatish fly-bitten fustilarian
gorbellied folly-fallen giglet
impertinent fool-born gudgeon
infectious full-gorged haggard
jarring guts-griping harpy
loggerheaded half-faced hedge-pig
lumpish hasty-witted horn-beast
mammering hedge-born hugger-mugger
mangled hell-hated joithead
mewling idle-headed lewdster
paunchy ill-breeding lout
pribbling ill-nurtured maggot-pie
puking knotty-pated malt-worm
puny milk-livered mammet
qualling motley-minded measle
rank onion-eyed minnow
reeky plume-plucked miscreant
roguish pottle-deep moldwarp
ruttish pox-marked mumble-news
saucy reeling-ripe nut-hook
spleeny rough-hewn pigeon-egg
spongy rude-growing pignut
surly rump-fed puttock
tottering shard-borne pumpion
unmuzzled sheep-biting ratsbane
vain spur-galled scut
venomed swag-bellied skainsmate
villainous tardy-gaited strumpet
warped tickle-brained varlet
wayward toad-spotted vassal
weedy unchin-snouted whey-face
yeasty weather-bitten wagtail

Happy reading, you unmuzzled, knotty-pated foot-lickers!

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17 thoughts on “How to swear like Shakespeare

  1. I love this! So much more fun. You’re so right about the decreasing impact of the normal swear words. And anyone who thinks otherwise is a craven, hasty-minded flap dragon!

  2. I think I saw this mammering, crook-pated skainsmate (no clue what ANY of those words mean) of a list a few years ago. So fantastic and good for hours of entertainment!

    A bit disappointed “fopdoodle” isn’t on the list, though; it is absolutely my favorite piece of foul language. It is strangely satisfying (and supremely fun) to say!

  3. Pingback: Little Brown Spider « Obscured Dreamer

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