Funny shakespeare quotes

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Funny Shakespeare Quotes

Come, thou monarch of the vine, Plumpy Bacchus with pink eyne! – Antony and Cleopatra, Act II, Scene VII

I wish you all joy of the worm.. – Antony and Cleopatra, Act V, Scene II

Sweetest nut hath sourest rind; Such a nut is Rosalind. – As You Like It, Act III, Scene II

If manhood, good manhood, be not forgotten upon the face of the earth, then am I a shotten herring (a herring which has spawned). – Falstaff, in King Henry IV, Act II, Scene IV

There live not three good men unhanged in England: and one of them is fat.. – Falstaff, in King Henry IV, Act II, Scene IV

I must to the barber’s, monsieur; for methinks, I am marvellous hairy about the face: and I am such a tender ass, if my hair do but tickle me, I must scratch.. – Bottom, in A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, Act IV, Scene I

Mine eyes smell onions. – Lafeu, in All’s Well that Ends Well, Act V, Scene III

It is like a barber’s chair that fits all buttocks, the pin-buttock, the quatch-buttock, the brawn-buttock, or any buttock.. – Clown, in All’s Well that Ends Well, Act III, Scene II (In response to whether his answer would fit all questions)

Ha! Art thou Bedlam? Dost thou thirst base Trojan, to have me fold up Parca’s fatal web? Hence! I am qualmish at the smell of leek.. – Pistol, in King Henry V, Act V, Scene I

For various reasons there are not so many funny Shakespeare facts that resonate with modern ears as there are famous Shakespeare love quotes – read why on our main Shakespeare quotes page. And for fun and fascinating facts on Shakespeare’s works see the pages on his plays and sonnets – we’ve even provided a full list of Shakespeare sonnets – all 154 of then – with links to the text of each, just some of the fun and educational resources here at William Shakespeare facts.


Funny Shakespeare Quotes

Have a laugh with Shakespeare's comebacks

Shakespeare's insults are some of his funniest and most memorable quotes. Who knew Early Modern English could be so sassy? There's no need to search any further for a witty comeback; enjoy the list below.

Funny Shakespeare Quotes and Insults

Thou sodden-witted lord! thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows

— Troilus and Cressida, Act 2 Scene 1, Lines 42-43; Thersites to Ajax

I do bite my thumb, sir

— Romeo and Juliet, Act 1 Scene 1, Line 44; Sampson to Abram
romeo cropped

Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon!

— Timon of Athens, Act 4 Scene 3, line 361; Timon to Apemantus

Go, prick thy face and over-red thy fear, / Thou lily-livered boy

— Macbeth, Act 5 Scene 3, Lines 14-15; Macbeth to a servant
Macbeth, RSC 1967, cropped

I do desire we may be better strangers

— As You Like It, Act 3 Scene 2, Line 254; Orlando to Jacques

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

— Henry IV Part 1, Act 3 Scene 3, Line 111-12 ; Falstaff to Mistress Quickly
Henry IV Part 2, RSC 2000, cropped

Thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter!

— King Lear, Act 2 Scene 2, line 62; Earl of Kent to Oswald

You are not worth another word else I’d call you knave

— All's Well That Ends Well, Act 2 Scene 3, lines 262-63; Lafew to Parolles
All's Well That Ends Well Painting Cropped

You Banbury cheese!

— Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 1 Scene 1, line 120; Bardolph to Slender

I am sick when I do look on thee

— A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act 2 Scene 1, line 212; Demetrius to Helena
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The Best Quotes from Shakespeare's Comedies

With no shadow of a doubt, William Shakespeare is the greatest British playwright that has ever lived. Having penned dozens of comedies, tragedies, and histories, Shakespeare's plays have been repeatedly staged in London for centuries. Even today, new adaptations and traditional tales draw crowds from all over the world, all looking to get their Shakespeare fix.

It’s also true that Shakespeare changed the English language. His unique way with words are both powerful, but can also be hilarious when taken out of context. Here’s some of our top comedy quotes and comedy insults from Shakespeare plays.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

“I must to the barber’s, monsieur; for methinks, I am marvellous hairy about the face: and I am such a tender ass, if my hair do but tickle me, I must scratch.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 4, Scene 1

When Bottom speaks of himself in the forest, it sounds as if he's concerned about his appearance. Actually, he’s actually sharing his accomplishments with the other fairies, however silly it sounds. 

All's Well That Ends Well

“Virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese.”
All’s Well That Ends Well, Act 1, Scene 1

In this opening scene, Parolles and Helen chat about the importance of virginity in sixteenth-century society, with Parolles stressing his belief that women shouldn’t save themselves. Then, he comes out with this comedic line, referring to the conscious choice of abstinence as breeding mites like a cheese. Even if the conversation isn’t laughworthy, comparing a state of person to cheese is. 

“It is like a barber’s chair that fits all buttocks, the pin-buttock, the quatch-buttock, the brawn-buttock, or any buttock.”
All’s Well That Ends Well, Act 3, Scene 2

In a scene between the Clown and Countess, the Clown analogises an all-encompassing answer through a barber’s chair. A barber’s chair does see a lot of action, so it makes sense.

“No legacy is so rich as honesty.”
All’s Well That Ends Well, Act 3, Scene 5

In context of Shakespeare’s play, this legacy is rich; it’s actually talking about a young woman losing her virginity. But, when taken out of context, this is a thought that could improve all of our lives.

As You Like It

“I do desire we may be better strangers.”
As You Like It, Act 3, Scene 2

Best to pocket this phrase for when we meet people after a trilogy of lockdowns. At least when you tell someone, you can say you’re quoting Shakespeare.


“More of your conversation would infect my brain.”
Coriolanus, Act 2, Scene 1

This line comes towards the end of Menenius’ monologue, almost as if he’s done speaking with anyone that’s not on his level. It’s a good one to use if you don’t want to speak with someone.

Henry IV

“Away, you starvelling, you elf-skin, you dried neat’s-tongue, bull’s-pizzle, you stock-fish!”
​Henry IV Part 1, Act 2, Scene 4

Rolling five insults in one, this hilarious line comes from Falstaff, using different phrases because there isn’t enough breath to limit everything he wants to say. It’s an oddly-worded sentence that harks to using antiquated insults.

“There’s no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune.”
Henry IV Part 1, Act 3, Scene 3

Falstaff’s choice of words to a mistress aren’t exactly courteous. In modern vernacular, Falstaff would be saying how unfaithful she is, but to describe someone as a “stewed prune” is definitely a stand-out comedic insult that should be used more.

“You are as a candle, the better burnt out.”
Henry IV Part 2, Act 1, Scene 2

Chief Justice comments on Falstaff’s state by likening him to a used candle that’s only got half its energy left.

“His wit’s as thick as a Tewkesbury mustard.”
Henry IV Part 2, Act 2, Scene 4

In centuries gone by, Tewkesbury mustard was used in medicinal remedies. A staple condiment, everyone knew how to use it. So, to call someone as thick as Tewkesbury mustard is to imply they lack any intelligence.

Henry V

“Thou damned and luxurious mountain goat.”
Henry V, Act 4, Scene 4

No, someone is not being called the “greatest of all time” as goat can commonly stand for today. This quote is instead calling someone a lazy, unappealing creature.

“Thine face is not worth sunburning.”
Henry V, Act 5, Scene 2

Translating this line into modern times, it suggests that you’re so ugly, the sun shouldn’t even warm your face. Ouch. What a stinger.


“What you egg!”
Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 2

A cracking insult from William Shakespeare here, spoken by a murderer in Macbeth.

“Thou cream faced loon.”
Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 3

No, this isn’t referring to an individual as a cream cake. It’s actually spoken by Macbeth, telling a servant that’s he so cowardly, his face is pale as clouds and covered in goosebumps. In fact, he should go to hell and be burned black.

The Merry Wives of Windsor

“You Banbury cheese!”
The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 1, Scene 1

Once made in Oxfordshire, the production of Banbury cheese is now a thing of the past. Its Shakespearean mention has resurrected the cheese type, used against Slender for their thin, meagre proportions.

“The rankest compound of villainous smell that ever offended nostril."
The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 3, Scene 5

This is a pretty simple one to understand. Somebody smells so much that they stink.

The Tempest

“Now I will believe that there are unicorns…”
The Tempest, Act 3, Scene 3

Okay, so we know that unicorns don’t exist. But imagine if they did. It would be pretty cool, wouldn't it? Well, writers have been dreaming of unicorns for centuries. This fantastical creature is referenced three times in Shakespearean works, with Sebastian using the animal as a way to say that he'll only believe an event if unicorns exist.

Twelfth Night

“If music be the food of love, play on.”
Twelfth Night, Act 1, Scene 1

Arguably one of Shakespeare’s best-known lines, it’s pretty literal. Orsino wants music to play so that he can be successful in his courtship. Its naivety makes it laughable too, but in a sweet and innocent way.

Photo credit: Open book (Photo by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash)

Shakespeare, famous lines, part I

34 Of The Most Brilliant Shakespeare Quotes

9. "This above all: to thine ownself be true.

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man."

—Polonius in Hamlet

10. "Come, let's away to prison;

We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage:

When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down,

And ask of thee forgiveness: so we'll live,

And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh

At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues

Talk of court news."

—Lear in King Lear

11. "They have been at a great feast of languages, and stol'n the scraps."

—Moth in Love's Labor's Lost

12. "I would give all my fame for a pot of ale, and safety."

—Boy in Henry V

13. "For your brother and my sister no sooner

met, but they looked; no sooner looked, but they

loved; no sooner loved, but they sighed; no sooner

sighed, but they asked one another the reason; no

sooner knew the reason but they sought the remedy."

—Rosalind in As You Like It


Shakespeare quotes funny

39 Famous and Funny Shakespeare Insults

No one has harsher burns than William Shakespeare! His ability to land a verbal blow at just the right moment is unmatched by anyone in literary history. Keep reading to learn brand new (and yet classic) ways to insult someone using the Bard’s words.

hamlet classical theater actor playing character hamlet classical theater actor playing character

Insulting Someone’s Intelligence

When you want to attack a person’s intelligence but “dumb” doesn’t seem strong enough, Shakespeare’s got plenty of options. Here are some descriptive ways to insult someone’s intelligence.

  • Your abilities are too infant-like for doing much alone. (Coriolanus)
  • She hath more hair than wit, and more faults than hairs, and more wealth than faults. (Two Gentlemen of Verona)
  • Thou sodden-witted lord! Thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows! (Troilus and Cressida)
  • Your brain is as dry as the remainder biscuit after voyage. (As You Like It)
  • He has not so much brain as ear-wax. (Troilus and Cressida)
  • You do unbend your noble strength, to think so brainsickly of things. (Macbeth)

Insulting a Useless Person

Shakespeare’s heroes and villains have no use for weaker characters. Read a list of Shakespearean insults for occasions when you want to insult the pointlessness of a person’s existence.

  • Away thou rag, thou quantity, thou remnant. (The Taming of the Shrew)
  • Thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter! (King Lear)
  • Foul spoken coward, that thund’rest with thy tongue, and with thy weapon nothing dares perform. (Titus Andronicus)
  • You are not worth another word, else I’d call you knave. (All’s Well That Ends Well)
  • Thou slander of thy heavy mother's womb! (Richard III)
  • In civility thou seem'st so empty. (As You Like It)
  • That kiss is as comfortless as frozen water to a starved snake. (Titus Andronicus)

Insulting an Unlikeable Person

Some of the best Shakespeare burns are reserved for the antagonists. Find some great ways to slam your adversaries with these famous insults.

  • There’s small choice in rotten apples. (Taming of the Shrew)
  • I do desire that we may be better strangers. (As You Like It)
  • Thy sin’s not accidental, but a trade. (Measure For Measure)
  • Heaven truly knows that thou art false as hell. (Othello)
  • A most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise breaker, the owner of no one good quality. (All’s Well That Ends Well)
  • I do wish thou were a dog, that I might love thee something. (Timon of Athens)
  • You have such a February face, so full of frost, of storm and cloudiness. (Much Ado About Nothing)
  • Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood. (King Lear)
  • The rankest compound of villainous smell that ever offended nostril. (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
  • Dissembling harlot, thou art false in all. (The Comedy of Errors)
  • Away, you three-inch fool! (The Taming of the Shrew)
  • Thou elvish-mark’d, abortive, rooting hog! (Richard III)
  • Bloody, bawdy villain! Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain! (Hamlet)
  • You starveling, you eel-skin, you dried neat’s-tongue, you bull’s-pizzle, you stock-fish–O for breath to utter what is like thee!-you tailor’s-yard, you sheath, you bow-case, you vile standing tuck! (Henry IV, Part I)

Insulting Someone’s Looks

Shakespeare had no problem stooping to the lowest level when it came to crafting his insults. Here are some ways that characters attack each other’s looks in arguments and tense moments.

  • [Thou] foul defacer of God's handiwork. (Richard III)
  • No longer from head to foot than from hip to hip, she is spherical, like a globe, I could find out countries in her. (The Comedy of Errors)
  • I am sick when I do look on thee. (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
  • Out of my sight! Thou dost infect my eyes. (Richard III)
  • Her face is not worth sunburning. (Henry V)
  • Thou art as fat as butter. (Henry IV)
  • That trunk of humours, that bolting-hutch of beastliness, that swollen parcel of dropsies, that huge bombard of sack, that stuffed cloak-bag of guts, that roasted Manningtree ox with pudding in his belly, that reverend vice, that grey Iniquity, that father ruffian, that vanity in years? (Henry IV)
  • Thou hateful wither’d hag! (Richard III)
  • The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes. (The Comedy of Errors)
  • Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens! (As You Like It)
  • [Thou] sanguine coward, [thou] bed-presser, [thou] horseback-breaker, [thou] huge hill of flesh! (Henry IV)

When All Else Fails…

If your conversational partner is still standing, try this one on for size. It’s known as one of Shakespeare’s most vicious and well-worded replies. The quote is from King Lear, Act 2, Scene 2, in which a disguised Kent verbally abuses the chief steward of Goneril’s household.

  • [Thou art] a knave, a rascal, an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-livered, action-taking knave; a whoreson, glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of good service; and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch; one whom I will beat into clamorous whining if thou deniest the least syllable of thy addition. (King Lear)

Shakespearean Insult Generator

You can use the Bard’s words to create your own insults as well! Use our printable PDF to make the insults fly in a fun game at home or in school.

View & Download PDF

Or use the table below to mix and match some of Shakespeare’s best adjectives, nouns, and participles to say what you really mean.



































































More Shakespeare Resources

Would you like to bring more of Shakespeare’s words to your daily conversation? Check out a list of words and phrases coined by the famous writer. You can also find more Shakespearean quotes – most of which are less insulting than the quotes featured here – with an engaging literary article.

Jennifer Gunner

M.Ed. Education

Funniest Yearbook Quotes of All Time


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