Insults. It’s hard to turn on the TV these days without hearing new ones being hurled at political candidates, real housewives, or MMA fighters. Then there are the zingers that fly out of your mouth automatically when a driver cuts you off on the freeway or has the nerve to honk at you for allowing a pedestrian to finish clearing your path. And a whopper might very well stir up a bitter conflict on the basketball court or determine who prevails in a rap battle. All insults have the potential to either deeply offend or satisfyingly delight those within earshot; and every once in a while there are the rare gem-like insults that cut to the core of an issue with just a few choice words. The collection of insults an average person encounters or produces on any given day might give us the impression we’re at an all-time high in regards to insult slinging–or should I say, an all-time low. But truth be told, the mighty art of the dis has been thriving for a good, long time. Take Shakespeare, for example, who managed to fiendishly unleash a wide assortment of creative and clever put-downs throughout his prodigious oeuvre. As we are celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare, let’s take a moment to appreciate his Elizabethan-style smack talk.

“Thou art as loathsome as a toad.”

“Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens.”

“Thy tongue outvenoms all the worms of the Nile.”

“I must tell you friendly in your ear, sell when you can, you are not for all markets.”

“Thy face is not worth sunburning.”

“I do desire we may be better strangers.”

“Thou art a flesh-monger, a fool and a coward.”

“There’s no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune.”

“They lie deadly that tell you you have good faces.”

“Thou art a boil. A plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood.”

“Away you three-inch fool.”

“You, minion, are too saucy.”

“Thou art the best of the cut-throats.”

“Thy sin’s not accidental, but a trade.”

“Your virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese.”

“Peace, ye fat guts.”

“Thou art the son and heir of a mongrel bitch.”

“Villain, I have done thy mother.”

“Tempt not too much the hatred of my spirit, for I am sick when I do look on thee.”

“Thou art unfit for any place but hell.”

“More of your conversation would infect my brain.”

While it’s wise to refrain from dishing out insults upon your friends and foes, Shakespeare demonstrates that if you choose to go there, you might want to take your game to the next level.

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