Thou Art A Cottage Cheese, Fustilarian Bounder!

Ahh. You can’t beat a good insult. Shakespeare was definitely the master.

InsultsSome Shakespearean insults are short and to the point: Thou art like a toad; ugly and venemous. (As You Like It)

Others more of a rant: A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; 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, pandar, 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)

Even when we don’t understand the exact meaning, we get the message from the general tone.

Of course, there have been other famous ‘insulters’ over the years. Winston Churchill was famous for his acid comebacks, as was Groucho Marx with lines like: “She got her good looks from her father. He’s a plastic surgeon.”

But while some insults depend on wit, others are to do with the words used. And, like other parts of the language, insults go out of fashion.

There was a feature on the BBC website a couple of days ago after former international footballer turned TV presenter Gary Lineker referred to a thief who stole his mum’s car as a ‘rotter’.

The word is a bit of a throwback to the earlier part of the previous century and the BBC feature looked at some other insults that have fallen out of fashion.

Some insults also depend on where you come from. I was re-watching series two of The Wire recently and had to blink when drug gang hard man Cheese yelled out at a rival: “You cottage cheese chest ass motherf***er!”

I’m sorry? What! I mean, ‘Cheese’ is a bit of an odd name for a hard man but surely he could have said something a bit less… bizarre?

Anyone got any explanations? Or examples of other inspiring or weird insults?

As an aside, for anyone else who believes The Wire to be the best TV drama ever made – they could run degree courses based on the writing in this series – here’s a treat. A 10-minute compilation of some of its (many) best lines. Enjoy:


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