William Shakespeare was a famous English playwright who was mostly prolific during the mid-to-late 1500s. Though he's mostly known for his plays, he also wrote numerous poems that reached worldwide recognition. Though his work was extremely varied, he did not seem to favor one genre over another. He wrote a near equal amount of each play, whether it be romance, comedy, or tragedy.

It's said that only around half of his plays were actually saved after his death, thanks to a group of actors that participated in his productions.

Shakespeare's style is commonly known as "unrhymed iambic pentameter," or blank verse. In laymans terms, this means that each verse consisted of one short syllable, followed by a stressed syllable, and it did not typically rhyme.

Insults Methods

Insults are commonly defined as a way to speak or treat (someone) with disrespect or scornful abuse. When taking this into account, our group decided to focus only on the spoken insult. Spoken insults always have some base attribute to them, and thus we decided to categorize them appropriately into one or more of several different aspects. Each insult has a root "type," detailed below.

Name Calling

The act of calling someone something that they are not with intent to harm their personal image.

Ex. "Thou are a pig."

Personal Attack

The act of comparing an attribute of someones character or skill to that of something far worse or lacking.

Ex. "Thine sword skills are like those of a child."

Insult on Sexuality or Gender

An attack on someone due to their gender or sexuality, or a comparison to the opposite gender with malicious intent.

Ex. "Thou throw like a girl."

Backhanded Compliment

Intending to compliment someone, but doing so in such a way as to show that the held belief of them was disrespectful or negative.

Ex. "Thine dress blesses my eyes with a thinner sight."


Any form of disparaging, belittling, or diminishing speak about someone to another other than those being insulted.

Ex. "Hamlet has been having affairs with the court cur."

Linguistic Methods

This section details how any given "insult" is defined, in a technical fashion.


Do gender differences have any impact on insults?

Male to male

Male to female

Female to female

Female to male


Does the relationship between the characters have any bearing on the insult?

Parent to child

Child to parent

Sibling to sibling

Friend to friend

Couple to couple

Acquantance to acquantance


State of Relationships

Are the characters friends, enemies, or indifferent towards each other?




Speech Acts

Is there a hidden meaning behind what was said and what was conveyed?



Illocutionary acts

Illocutionary acts are acts where there is more meaning than is directly stated. They are inherently indirect.

Grice's Maxims

Is there an underlying meaning or are the typical rules of conversation being violated for the insult to be implied? These are also inherently indirect.


Our Project

Linguistic References

Insult References

General References