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Shakespearean Quips

William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is full of poignant insults and memorable one-liners. Here is a collection of our favorite “impossible slanders.”

  • He is no less than a stuffed man. (1.1.53)
  • If he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse. (1.1.61-63)
  • I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.
    No; and he were, I would burn my study. (1.1.71-72)
  • I wonder that you will still be talking: nobody marks you. (1.1.107-108)
  • Truly I love none. A dear happiness to women, they would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. (1.1.117-119)
  • I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me. (1.1.120-121)
  • I noted her not, but I looked on her. (1.1.152)
  • I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace. (1.3.25-26)
  • How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can see him but I am heart-burned an hour after. (2.1.3-4)
  • What should I do with [a husband]? Dress him in my apparel and make him my waiting-gentlewoman? (2.1.30-31)
  • Not till God make men of some other metal than earth. (2.1.55)
  • He both pleases men and angers them, and then they laugh at him and beat him. (2.1.128-30)
  • If her breath were as terrible as her terminations, there were no living near her, she would infect to the North Star. (2.1.232-34)
  • I would not marry her, though she were endowed with all that Adam had left him before he transgressed. (2.1.234-36)
  • If he had been a dog that should have howled thus, they would have hanged him. (2.3.79-80)
  • Agaisnt my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner. (2.3.238-39)
  • I took no more pains for those thanks than you take pains to thank me. (2.3.241-42)
  • You are thought here to be the most senseless and fit man for the [job]. (3.3.22-23)
  • My cousin’s a fool, and thou art another. (3.4.10)
  • Neighbours, you are tedious. (3.5.17)
  • O, what men dare do! What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they do! (4.1.18-19)
  • O God that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the market-place. (4.1.305-6)
  • But masters, remember that I am an ass. Though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass. (4.2.69-70)
  • I pray thee cease they counsel, which falls into mine ears as profitless as water in a sieve. (5.1.3-5)
  • Men from children nothing differ. (5.1.33)
  • [You are] scambling, outfacing, fashion-monging boys, that lie, and cog, and flout, deprave, and slander, go anticly, and show outward hideousness, and speak off half a dozen dang’rous words, how [you] might hurt [your] enemies, if [you] durst, and this is all. (5.1.94-99)
  • He goes in his doublet and hose and leaves off his wit! (5.1.196-7)
  • Let me see his eyes, that when I note another man like him I may avoid him. (5.1.253-55)
  • Foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is but foul breath, and foul breath is noisome; therefore I will depart unkissed. (5.2.49-51)
  • [Your bad parts] maintained so politic a state of evil that they will not admit any good part to intermingle with them. (5.2.58-6)
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