Shakespearean “Insult” Sonnet:

Your Opportunity to Put Shakespeare’s Words to Your Deepest, Darkest Thoughts!

Writing Sonnets

Write an original sonnet for someone or something you wish to insult using language from Shakespeare’s day and age. This can be a character in a book you have read or television show you watch, a sports rival, academic nemesis, an actual person with whom you have a legitimate gripe, or a completely fictional recipient. It could also be written for an object which you dislike or have strong negative feelings for.

You will need to:

  • begin with an interesting title.
  • follow the Shakespearean Sonnet rhyme scheme (ABABCDCDEFEFGG).
  • include one example of alliteration and one example of assonance (please underline both).
  • introduce the nature of the conflict, gripe, problem, situation in first four lines.
  • develop this conflict, gripe, problem, situation etc. using at least 4 insults created from the Shakespearean Insult Kit (see list below).
  • resolve the conflict in a final couplet that ends with a witty twist!
  • Include a minimum of 5 words that Shakespeare “coined” or invented, which we still use today. See list.
  • ONLINE EXTENSION: Post your insult to the discussion topic I have created. Once you post your insult sonnet, read the sonnets posted by your peers and reply to at least 2 other students!


Shakespeare Insult Kit: Take one word from each column and you will have a Shakespearean style insult!

Column 1                            Column 2                        Column 3

artless                                     base-court                                  apple-john

bawdy                                       bat-fowling                                 baggage

beslubbering                                beef-witted                                 barnacle

bootless                                    beetle-headed                               bladder

churlish                                   boil-brained                                boar-pig

cockered                                    clapper-clawed                  bugbear

clouted                                    clay-brained                                bum-bailey

craven                                      common-kissing                 canker-blossom

currish                                     crook-pated                                 clack-dish

dankish                                     dismal-dreaming                 clotpole

dissembling                                 dizzy-eyed                                  coxcomb

droning                                     doghearted                                  codpiece

errant                                      dread-bolted                                death-token

fawning                                     earth-vexing                              dewberry

fobbing                                     elf-skinned                                 flap-dragon

froward                                     fat-kidneyed                               flax-wench

frothy                                      fen-sucked                                  flirt-gill

gleeking                                    flap-mouthed                          foot-licker

goatish                                     fly-bitten                                  fustilarian

gorbellied                                  folly-fallen                                giglet

impertinent                              fool-born                                   gudgeon

infectious                                  full-gorged                                 haggard

jarring                                     guts-gripeing                                harpy

loggerheaded                         half-faced                                  hedge-pig

lumpish                                  hasty-witted                                horn-beast

mammering                       hedge-born                                  hugger-mugger

mangled                                 hell-hated                                  joithead

mewling                                   idle-headed                                 lewdster

paunchy                                     ill-breeding                                lout

pribbling                                   ill-nurtured                                maggot-pie

puking                                      knotty-pated                               malt-worm

puny                                        milk-livered                                mammet

qualling                                    motley-minded                         measle

rank                                        onion-eyed                                  minnow

reeky                                       plume-plucked                          miscreant

roguish                                     pottle-deep                               moldwarp

ruttish                                     pox-marked                               mumble-news

saucy                                       reeling-ripe                                nut-hook

spleeny                                     rough-hewn                               pigeon-egg

spongy                                      rude-growing                               pignut

surly                                         rump-fed                                       puttock

tottering                                   shard-borne                                 pumpion

unmuzzled                                sheep-biting                                ratsbane

vain                                              spur-galled                                 scut

venomed                                    swag-bellied                               skainsmate

villainous                                  tardy-gaited                               strumpet

warped                                      tickle-brained                              varlot

wayward                                     toad-spotted                              vassal

weedy                                       unchin-snouted                           whey-face


This is the insult sonnet I wrote to share with my class to model the activity:

Ode to Demon Donuts

The sweet smell of glazed sugar  tortures my senses.

Thou tempting spongy guts gripeping maggot pie.

For a laughable moment my will power lapses and my body tenses.

My mouth waters-a world without donuts would make me cry.

Oh, bandit! I hate the monumental temptation you cause

Thou frothy full gorged apple john fritter

At the window in amazement staring at the varied options I pause.

Impossible to eat without creating countless crumbs that litter.

Myself a mangled milk livered malt worm!

Momentarily savage, strength gone, radiance drained, beauty faded.

My addiction champion; my resolve no longer firm.

No choice; frosting on lips, cheeks, fingers; self-respect raided.

A saucy swag bellied hugger-mugger,

Cause of your weakness- no longer fashionable and jeans’ll be snugger.

One response

  1. If you’re going to aspire to write sonnets in the style of Shakespeare, then you need to pay attention to metre as well as vocabulary and rhyme scheme; Shakespeare’s sonnets are conventional in the sense that they never, ever deviate from iambic pentameter.

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