Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Canker-blossom" and Other Great Shakespearean Insults

            When was the last time you had one of those “speechless” moments? You know, those interminable seconds when someone has just insulted you or said something so stupid that it is unfathomable. You find yourself standing there, mouth open, desperately wishing that for once you could think of something to say. Oh, you’ll think of just the perfect come-back later while you’re doing the dinner dishes or standing in the shower. Unfortunately, by then it’s too late.

            A few weeks ago, my friend Dawn solved this problem for me. She gave me a mug that is decorated with insults written by none other than the master himself, William Shakespeare. It was an awesome gift, because I can fill it with coffee and carry it around with me. Now I’m never at a loss for something nasty and Elizabethan to say when I need it.

            One of my favorites is “Thou art a boil, a plague sore.” In my experience, when you say this to someone who is acting ugly, there is never a come-back. Of course, there is a distinct possibility that this is because he has no idea what you just said. He might be “light of brain” with “not so much brain as ear wax.”

            If this bit of Shakespearean wit doesn’t win the battle for you, try these:

“beetle-headed, flap-ear’d knave”
“bolting-hutch of beastliness”
“veriest varlet that ever chewed with a tooth” (you have to love that imagery)
“mountain of mad flesh”
“highly fed and lowly taught”
“infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise-breaker”
“clod of wayward marl”
“foot-licker” (not as vulgar as the modern expression, huh?)
“poisonous bunch-back’d toad”

Surely one of these magnificent insults is bound to be appropriate for your “speechless” moments.  Oh, and don’t forget to follow it up with this zinger as you walk away: “I do desire we may be better strangers.”

            Let’s hear it for William Shakespeare, master of insults as well as iambic pentameter. You rock, sir!

Want a Shakespearean insults mug for yourself? Help out the Unemployed Philosophers Guild and buy one! http://www.philosophersguild.com/Shakespearean-Insults-Mug.html 


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