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The Elizabethan Insult

and

Curses of an Elizabethan Nature
or, How to Cuss Like an Elizabethan Sailor





The "Shakespearean" Insult Generator | How to Swear Like An Elizabethan


Elizabethan English is a wonderfully colorful language full of numerous evocative words and phrases. Elizabethans took a delight with language and it is fitting, then, that this would filter into the art of mudslinging. Thier mastery of language was often showcased in the clever weaving together of terms to form stinging phrases of wit. Remember this was a time when the average person did not read, and other forms of entertainment were not readily available, but good conversation acted as a substitute.

Some Forms of Address NOT Used In Polite Conversation:

Sirrah. Contrary to popular belief this word does not substitute for "sir". Remember that this word is considered an insult and only used to redress bad children, lazy servants, or downright rogues. E.g. "Sirrah, by my maidenhead I do not believe a single word that you have professed to be true. You are a rogue and scoundrel. Be gone from my sight."

Fellow. This may seem an innocuous form of address and one might usually discount it as nothing more than an every day expression, but do not be fooled. The Elizabethan Male more often than not would have felt insulted by this form of address considering it patronizing, or in some cases a very common term akin to "dude" and/or "pal".




The "Shakespearean" Insult Generator

"Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?"


Many people have seen this in some shape or form or another. This is a useful tool for a variety of insults, and provides you with jibes much more interesting than *insert idiotic sneer here* "You're an idiot/jerk/dork." In forming the insult one can be creative to the point that the person being insulted won't even realize it until much later.

In order to use this insult generator choose one word from each column and combine them using "Thou art a(n)..."

"Thou art a churlish, dismal-dreaming fustilarian."

If you wish to make a longer, more interesting insult you could choose more than one word from columns one and two and combine them.

"Thou art an artless, crook-pated, fawning, mewling, elf-skinned puttock."

Feel free to add your own adjectives to the list as you get more comfortable with the process.

Column 1

Column 2

Column 3

Artless

Base-court

Apple-john

Bawdy

Bat-fowling

Baggage

Beslubbering

Beef-witted

Barnacle

Bootless

Beetle-headed

Bladder

Churlish

Boil-brained

Boar-pig

Cockered

Clapper-clawed

Bugbear

Clouted

Clay-brained

Bum-bailey

Craven

Common-kissing

Canker-blossom

Currish

Crook-pated

Clack-dish

Dankish

Dismal-dreaming

Clot-pole

Dissembling

Dizzy-eyed

Coxcomb

Droning

Dog-hearted

Codpiece

Errant

Dread-bolted

Death-token

Fawning

Earth-vexing

Dewberry

Fobbing

Elf-skinned

Flap-dragon

Froward

Fat-kidneyed

Flax-wench

Frothy

Fen-sucked

Flirt-gill

Gleeking

Flap-mouthed

Foot-licker

Goatish

Fly-bitten

Fustilarian

Gorbellied

Folly-fallen

Giglet

Impertinent

Fool-born

Gudgeon

Infectious

Full-gorged

Haggard

Jarring

Guts-griping

Harpy

Loggerheaded

Half-faced

Hedge-pig

Lumpish

Hasty-witted

Horn-beast

Mammering

Hedge-born

Huggermugger

Mangled

Hell-hated

Jolt-head

Mewling

Idle-headed

Lewdster

Paunchy

Ill-breeding

Lout

Pribbling

Ill-nurtured

Maggot-pie

Puking

Knotty-pated

Malt-worm

Puny

Milk-livered

Mammet

Quailing

Motley-minded

Measle

Rank

Onion-eyed

Minnow

Reeky

Plume-plucked

Miscreant

Roguish

Pottle-deep

Mold-warp

Ruttish

Pox-marked

Mumble-news

Saucy

Reeling-ripe

Nut-hook

Spleeny

Rough-hewn

Pigeon-egg

Spongy

Rude-growing

Pignut

Surly

Rump-fed

Puttock

Tottering

Shard-borne

Pumpion

Unmuzzled

Sheep-biting

Rats-bane

Vain

Spur-galled

Scut

Venomed

Swag-bellied

Skains-mate

Villainous

Tardy-gaited

Strumpet

Warped

Tickle-brained

Varlot

Wayward

Toad-spotted

Vassal

Weedy

Unchin-snouted

Whey-face

Yeasty

Weather-bitten

Wagtail






How to Swear Like an Elizabethan
Or, I Said What !?!?!



Romeo: Lady, by yonder blessed moon I vow
That tips with silver all these fruit tree tops

Juliet: Oh, swear not by the moon, th´inconstant moon.
That monthly changes in her circled orb
Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.

Romeo: What shall I swear by?

Juliet: Do not swear at all.
Or, if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self.
Which is the god of my idolatry.
An I´ll believe thee.

Romeo: If my heart´s dear love ---

Juliet: Well, do not swear. Although I joy in thee
I have no joy of this contract tonight.

Often, to lend credence to your words, or indicate the voracity of your words one might swear by any number of things:
  • One might swear by God's name, but more often than not they would swear by


    • "God's Teeth" - "God's teeth, 'tis cold outside."
    • God's Wounds as "Zounds" (pronounced: zoonds) - "Zounds, I ne'er thought she wouldst do that!"
    • "God's Blood"

  • Some men might swear by mythological and classical beings (possibly to sound more educated?)


    • "by the Might of Mars!"
    • "the Beauty of Venus!"

  • Men swore by numerous other things:


    • "...by my beard."
    • By the saints
    • By tools of their trade:

      • "By my hammer and tongs" in the case of a blacksmith
      • "By my sword..." as a knight

  • A woman wouldn't be so crass as to swear by false deities, etc… She would choose more polite phrasings:


    • "On my honor/chastity/virtue..."
    • A woman might also swear by the saints.
    • Swear by the tools of her trade: spinning wheel, thread and needles, etc.

Some words of exclamation that might be considered Elizabethan expletives:

"Fie!" is used a general exclamation of disgust.

An example of Shakespeare's use of the word:

Fie, fie! unknit that threatening unkind brow,
And dart not scornful glances from those eyes,

Some common phrases using "Fie!"

"Oh, Fie!"
"Fie and fie again!"
"Fie upon it!" or "Fie upon that!" or "Fie upon you!"

"Tush!" is a more mild exclamation than "fie". The word is used alone in a sentence (for instance you would not say "Tush upon you!" It sounds silly). It's hard to equate this to a term in the modern lexicon as it is similar to some, yet synonymous with none.

An example of the word's use in a sentence:

Oh tush, sir… you gave me a fright you did…

"Go to!" is an exclamation akin to our modern "Get outta here!" and/or "Really?" It is also used to tell a person to take their leave.

An example of the use of "Go to!" in a sentence:

Go to, you're a dry fool; I'll no more of you:
besides, you grow dishonest.