Shakespearean Insulter

“You are as a candle, the better burnt out.” So wrote William Shakespeare in 1597, in his play Henry IV, part 2. Whatever the occasion, the Bard of Avon had words of pointed invective seemingly written just for it. When a simple “your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberry” isn’t quite enough, it’s time to haul out the heavy artillery. In 1996, Chris Seidel designed a random-insult generator, using Shakespeare quotations, for the Web. Click the button, and up comes “Thou loathed issue of thy father’s loins!” from Richard III. Click again and get “Come, come, you talk greasily; your lips grow foul,” from Love’s Labour Lost. Again: “Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon!” from Timon of Athens. You get the picture. Try memorizing a few of these choice morsels for your next tavern argument and watch what happens. “Thou elvish-mark’d, abortive, rooting hog!” (Richard III).