How to write insults without swearing

UPDATED JULY 20, 2019. Further to our recent article about whether women should write swearwords or not, here is an updated and expanded version of some glorious, clean (well, cleanish) insults sent to me a couple of years ago by my cousin Alyson in Ottawa, Canada.

funny article about insults

William Shakespeare, King Lear

William Shakespeare was a master of insults, as you can see from above. That full quote, said by Lear to his daughter Goneril (why does her name always make me think of a sexually transmitted disease?) goes as follows:

“Thou art a boil, A plague-sore or embossèd carbuncle, In my corrupted blood.” Gee thanks, Dad. More of Willie’s best insults below. Meanwhile…

There was the exchange between Winston Churchill & Lady Astor:

She said, “If you were my husband I’d give you poison.”  He said, “If you were my wife, I’d drink it.”

A member of Parliament to Disraeli: “Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease.” That depends, Sir,” said Disraeli, “whether I embrace your policies or your mistress.”

“He had delusions of adequacy.” – Walter Kerr

“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” – Winston Churchill

“I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.” – Clarence Darrow

“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.” – William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

“Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it.” – Moses Hadas

“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” – Mark Twain

“He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.” – Oscar Wilde

“I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend…. If you have one.” –George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill.  “Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second…. If there is one.” – Winston Churchill, in response.

“I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here.” – Stephen Bishop

More Shakespeare put-downs

“Away, you starvelling, you elf-skin, you dried neat’s-tongue, bull’s-pizzle, you stock-fish!” Henry IV Part I (Act 2, Scene 4) (Mind you, “pizzle” was a naughty word back then.)

“His wit’s as thick as a Tewkesbury mustard.” Henry IV Part 2 (Act 2, Scene 4)

“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)

“More of your conversation would infect my brain.” Coriolanus (Act 2, Scene 1)

“Poisonous bunch-backed toad!“ Richard III (Act 1, Scene 3) (I love this one.)

“There’s no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune.” Henry IV Part 1 (Act 3, Scene 3)

“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)

“Thou cream faced loon” Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 3)

“Thou lump of foul deformity” Richard III (Act 1, Scene 2)

“You scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian! I’ll tickle your catastrophe!” Henry IV Part 2 (Act 2, Scene 1) (Not sure how to use this one but it certainly has an insulting ring to it.)

And if you want to write your own Shakespearean insults…

Take a look at this website – No Sweat Shakespeare. Not only do they offer a superb collection of Willie’s insults from which I picked the above, but they also have a wonderful pick-and-mix selection of Willie’s single word insults so you can create your own originals. Thanks guys!

But now for some more you can quote in your writings

“He is a self-made man and worships his creator.” – John Bright

“I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial.” – Irvin S. Cobb

“He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others.” – Samuel Johnson

“He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.” – Paul Keating

“In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily.” – Charles, Count Talleyrand

“He loves nature in spite of what it did to him.” – Forrest Tucker

“Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?” – Mark Twain

“His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.” – Mae West

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.” – Oscar Wilde

“He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts… For support rather than illumination.” – Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

“He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.” – Billy Wilder

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.” – Groucho Marx

I love ’em – don’t you?

Image thanks to Leo Reynolds, Flickr

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