Thursday, 14 February 2013

Shakespeare Declares War on Modesty


While we may want to cherish Shakespeare's oratory and nobility, he was also the master-genius of the gross and shocking insult. In this blog will discover some of my favourite insults from the Bard.

I find that children love to explore these types of offensive language. Whether the words makes sense of not to modern ear, its worth attending to the sonic quality of the language.

And playing with these terms often helps to break down the stuffy, polite image of Shakespeare as the custodian of respectable values and the representative of a refined, civilised society.

A List of Useful Descriptive Insult Words (Adjectives)

Artless, Base-court, Bat-fowling, Bawdy, Beef-witted, Beetle-headed, Beslubbering, Boil-brained, Bootless, Churlish, Clapper-clawed, Clay-brained, Clouted, Cockered, Common-kissing, Craven, Crook-pated, Currish, Dankish, Dismal-dreaming, Dissembling, Dizzy-eyed, Dog-hearted, Dread-bolted, Droning, Earth-vexing, Elf-skinned, Errant, Fat-kidneyed, Fawning, Fen-sucked, Flap-mouthed, Fly-bitten, Fobbing, Folly-fallen, Fool-born, Frothy, Froward, Full-gorged, Gleeking, Goatish,Gorbellied, Guts-griping, Half-faced, Hasty-witted, Hedge-born, Hell-hated, Idle-headed, Ill-breeding, Ill-nurtured, Impertinent, Infectious, Jarring, Knotty-pated,Loggerheaded, Lumpish, Mammering, Mangled, Mewling, Milk-livered, Motley-minded, Onion-eyed, Paunchy, Plume-plucked, Pottle-deep, Pox-marked, Pribbling, Puking, Puny, Quailing, Rank, Reeky, Reeling-ripe, Roguish, Rough-hewn, Rude-growing, Rump-fed, Ruttish, Saucy, Shard-borne, Sheep-biting, Spleeny, Spongy,Spur-galled, Surly, Swag-bellied, Tardy-gaited, Tickle-brained, Toad-spotted. Tottering, Unchin-snouted, Unmuzzled, Vain, Venomed, Villainous, Warped, Wayward, Weather-bitten, Weedy, Yeasty.

The Despicable Thing Itself (Nouns)

Apple-john, Baggage, Barnacle, Bastard, Beast, Bladder, Bloodsucker, Boar-pig, Bugbear, Bum-bailey, Canker-blossom, Clack-dish, Clot-pole, Coward, Coxcomb, Codpiece, Death-token, Dewberry, Flap-dragon, Flax-wench, Flirt-gill, Foot-licker, Fustilarian, Giglet, Gudgeon, Haggard, Harpy, Hedge-pig, Hog, Horn-beast, Jolt-head, Knave, Lewdster, Lout, Maggot-pie, Malt-worm, Measle, Minnow, Miscreant, Mold-warp, Monster, Mumble-news, Nut-hook, Pigeon-egg, Pignut, Puttock, Rascal, Ruffian, Sow, Traitor, Turd,Villain, Wolf, Worm, Wretch.

The Turd's The Thing

We have Doctor Caius to thank for Shakespeare’s most unfortunate scatological line which occurs in The Merry Wives of Windsor:

If dere be one or two, I shall make-a the turd

Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences
(Quibble Academic, 2013)

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