Elizabethan insults are in a class by themselves. They are incredibly fun to yell at people and have the added bonus of leaving the insulted temporarily speechless and therefore unable to respond before the insulter leaves the room. Simply select one word from each of the three columns below and yell it at an unsuspecting bystander.

Column 1Column 2Column 3
artlessbase-courtapple-john
bawdybat-fowlingbaggage
beslubberingbeef-wittedbarnacle
bootlessbeetle-headedbladder
churlishboil-brainedboar-pig
cockeredclapper-clawedbugbear
cloutedclay-brainedbum-bailey
cravencommon-kissingcanker-blossom
currishcrook-patedclank-dish
dankishdismal-dreamingclotpole
dissemblingdizzy-eyedcoxcomb
droningdogheartedcodpiece
errantdread-bolteddeath-token
fawningearth-vexingdewberry
fobbingelf-skinnedflap-dragon
frowardfat-kidneyedflax-wench
frothyfen-suckedflirt-gill
gleekingflap-mouthedfoot-licker
goatishfly-bittenfustilarian
gorbelliedfolly-fallengiglet
impertinentfool-borngudgeon
infectiousfull-gorgedhaggard
jarringguts-gripingharpy
loggerheadedhalf-facedhedge-pig
lumpishhasty-wittedhorn-beast
mammeringhedge-bornhugger-mugger
mangleshell-hatedjolthead
mewlingidle-headedlewdster
paunchyill-breedinglout
pribblingill-nurturedmaggot-pie
pukingknotty-patedmalt-worm
punymilk-liveredmammet
quailingmotley-mindedmeasle
rankonion-eyedminnow
reekyplum-pluckedmiscreant
roguishpottle-deepmoldworp
ruttishpox-markedmumble-news
saucyreeling-ripenut-hook
spleenyrough-hewnpigeon-egg
spongyrude-growingpignut
surlyrump-fedputtock
totteringshard-bornepumpion
unmuzzledsheep-bitingratsbane
vainspur-galledscut
venomedswag-belliedskainsmate
villainoustardy-gaitedstrumpet
warpedtickle-brainedvarlet
waywardtoad-spottedvassal
weedyurchin-snoutedwhey-face
yeastyweather-bittenwagtail

To give these insults an even more renaissance-like feel, add the word “Thou” or “Thou art a/an” before the insult. Make insulting a family affair! Grab a sibling (or friend, roommate, total stranger) and have a conversation like this:

“Thou art a frothy, fat-kidneyed harpy.”

“Really thou bootless, doghearted coxcomb?”

“Yes, you yeasty milk-livered malt-worm!”

“Malt-worm? Thou shalt pay for that, thou fobbing, earth-vexing measle!”

“Oh, shall I, you lumpish pox-marked canker-blossom?”

“Yes, artless, common-kissing maggot-pie!”

“…etc. etc. etc.…”

Just be sure to stop before the other person punches you in the mouth (unless you like that sort of thing…). These also come in handy if you happen to be walking around in a renaissance faire. Yell one out and you will feel more a part of the action. Happy insulting!

While these insults are wonderfully direct and full of colorful imagery, the best insults, by far, from this era were written by Shakespeare. His plays are full of them and most are subtle enough not to provoke instant anger. Read a play of his through very carefully and look for the insults. You'll see what I mean.

Thanks to my English teacher for bringing me to a whole new level insults. He introduced this lesson buy yelling at us about our latest papers and throwing in a few of his favorite insults. He finished it by making us copy them off the board. We were sure to tell him our favorites from the list.

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