Tag Archives: Talk Like Shakespeare Day

It’s Talk Like Shakespeare Day!

It’s National Talk Like Shakespeare Day!* Please teachest me to speaketh like Shakespeare, I heareth thee cry. You probably do already: if you say things like “send him packing”, “as good luck would have it”, “more fool you”, “neither here nor there”,  “mum’s the word”, or “the be-all and end-all”, then you’re doing pretty well in the Shakespearean language department: he was responsible for either coining or popularizing all those phrases.  Anyway, has’t no fear: Glossophilia cometh to the rescue, and we’re about to guide you through your online toolkit of Shakespearean-speak gadgets. Among Glossophilia’s favorites is Shmoop’s own Shakespearean Translator, which is just like Google Translate: Type anything into the box and “see it translated into super-authentic Shakespearean English”. Then there’s the Shakespeare Insult Kit, whose author Jerry Maguire (sic) was or is an English teacher at Center Grove High School in Greenwood Indiana. You’ll sound like a true Shakespearean villain when you hurl those concoctions out there. Another Glosso favorite is Shakespeare’s Words Thesaurus: “This is the opposite of the Glossary. When consulting the Glossary, you know the word and you want to find out what it means. When consulting the Thesaurus, you know the meaning and you want to find out which Shakespearean words express it. How would he say ‘arrogant’ or ‘companion’?'” Did you know that there’s a William Shakespeare Glossary on CliffNotes? And one on SparkNotes too? There’s a plethora of Shakespeare glossaries and dictionaries out there — and I mean plethora in its truest sense – to help you on your talk-like-Shakespeare quest. Here are just some of them … Continue reading

It’s Talk Like Shakespeare Day


It’s William Shakespeare’s 449th birthday. Happy Birthday Will! Honoring this special occasion, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has officially proclaimed April 23, 2013 Talk Like Shakespeare Day: “Everyone is encouraged to express themselves through the incorporation of Shakespearean language and dialect.”

Visit the Talk Like Shakespeare Day web site to find out how to emulate the Bard. Below is a nice little starter pack from the site, and then a Shakespeare Insult Kit, if you feel like being a dankish dog-hearted gudgeon for the occasion. But let’s not forget that we talk a little bit like Shakespeare every day. As Mental Floss reminded us earlier this year, many of the Bard’s own verbal inventions made their way into our language and remain there today, as do words that he popularized through his dramas. So when we say addiction, belongings, or even eyeballs, we have Mr. Shakespeare to thank for installing them in our vocabulary. As Romeo & Juliet in Urban Slang explains: “It has been said that Shakespeare created 1 out of 10 of the words he included in his plays. Some of the words already existed, but Shakespeare employs them creatively by using them in a different part of speech. The words that Shakespeare used that were already slang became greatly popularized after being included in his plays.

How to Talk Like Shakespeare

  1. Instead of you, say thou or thee (and instead of y’all, say ye).
  2. Rhymed couplets are all the rage.
  3. Men are Sirrah, ladies are Mistress, and your friends are all called Cousin.
  4. Instead of cursing, try calling your tormenters jackanapes or canker-blossoms or poisonous bunch-back’d toads.
  5. Don’t waste time saying “it,” just use the letter “t” (’tis, t’will, I’ll do’t).
  6. Verse for lovers, prose for ruffians, songs for clowns.
  7. When in doubt, add the letters “eth” to the end of verbs (he runneth, he trippeth, he falleth).
  8. To add weight to your opinions, try starting them with methinks, mayhaps, in sooth or wherefore.
  9. When wooing ladies: try comparing her to a summer’s day. If that fails, say “Get thee to a nunnery!”
  10. When wooing lads: try dressing up like a man. If that fails, throw him in the Tower, banish his friends and claim the throne.

How to Swear Like the Bard

The Shakespeare Insult Kit: Combine one word from each of the three columns below, prefaced with “Thou”  (example: thou spleeny knotty-pated malt-worm):


The Huffington Post published the 7 Best Shakespeare insults, of which this line from Lefeu in All’s Well That Ends Well is a perfect example:  “Methinks thou art a general offence, and every man should beat thee. I think thou wast created for men to breathe themselves upon you.”