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Naughty Shakespeare: Lewd Lexicon

PG-13? Just some sections of a chapter that i would like to share with you all. I’m only including the terms that are still being used today.

Macrone, Michael. Naughty Shakespeare!: the Lascivious Lines, Offensive Oaths, and Politically Incorrect Notions from the     Baddest Bard of All. New York: Gramercy, 2000. Print.


Pain due to veneral disease; or, by extension, the disease itself. “The vengeance on the whole camp!” cries the bitter Thersites to his fellow Greeks, who are fighting a war for a wanton woman; “or rather, the Neapolitan bone-ache!” (Troilus, II.iii.17-19). (Naples was considered the home of syphillis.)


Buttocks. “Troth,” Escalus tells Pompey, “and your bum is the greatest about you, so that in the beastliest sense you are Pompey the Great” (Measure, II.i.217-19). Apparently describing undignified flattering “curtsies,” Apemantus mocks the “Serving of becks [precious nodding] and jutting-out of bums” (Timon, I.ii.231).


One can hardly miss the vulgarity of “Pistol’s cock is up,/And flashing fire will follow” (Henry V, II.i.52-53;also see PISTOL). Outside such double entendres, cock was also a substitute for the even more shocking word “God,” as in “By Cock” (Hamlet, IV.v.61) and “Cock’s passion” (Shrew IV.i.118)


Have an orgasm. As Benedick begins to display the signs of lovesickness, his friends tease him mercilessly. They say the woman who loves him must not really know him or his “ill conditions” (bad qualities); yet in spite of that, she “dies for him” and “shall be buried with her face upward” (Much Ado, III.ii.67-69)




The general, all-purpose verb for “have sex” (see subsequent entries for more specific predicates).


“They mistook their erection,” notes Mistress Quickly, meaning to say “directions.” Falstaff responds, “So did I mine, to build upon a foolish woman’s promise” (Wives, III.v.39-42)


The term “fingering” is more obviously bawdy in Cymbeline, when Cloten the clownish gallant hires musicians to help “penetrate” his resistant love object, Imogen. “Come on, tune. If you can penetrate her with your fingering, so; we’ll try with tongue too” (II.iii.14-15)


Synonymous verbs such as jump and vault, at times have the same bawdy meaning. When a dull-witted servant describes Autoclycus’s songs of “dildos and fadings, ‘jump and thump her” (WT, IV.iv.195), he proves his stupidity by judging them to be “without bawdry” (193-94). Dildo refers to either a natural or artificial male organ; “fading” is slang for “orgasm”; and “jump” and “thump” refer to how fading is produced.


Given his explosive temperament and rapid-fire profanity, Ancient Pistol is aptly named indeed. Part of the joke is that pistol was also slang for PILLICOCK (meaning cock).


“Royal wench!” marvels Agrippa; “She [Cleopatra] made great ceasar lay his sword to bed;/ He ploughed her, and she cropp’d[gave birth]” (Antony, II.ii,227-29). “And if she [chaste Marina] were a thornier piece of ground than she is,” the pimp Boult proposes, “she shall be plough’d” (pericles, IV.vi.144-45).

Privates, Secret Parts

Genitalia. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern tell Hamlet they are neither sad nor over-happy — “on Fortune’s cap,” says Guildenstern, “we are not the very button.” “Nor the soles of her shoe?” asks Hamlet; “Neither, my lord,” Rosencrantz replies. “Then,” the prince continues, “you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favors?” “Faith,” jests Guildenstern, “her privates we.” Hamelet: “In the sweet parts of Fortune? O, most true, she is a strumpet [whore]” (HAmlet, II.ii228-36).


Low-class strumpet. An overdressed low class strumpet is a “taffety punk” (AWW, II.ii.22).


Rear end. See FINGER.


When the concubines Phyrnia and Timandra beg Timon for gold, Timon bids them, “Hold up, you sluts,/Your aprons mountant”–which means, “lift up your skirts to receive the gold; you’re used to it” (Timon,IV.iii.135-36).

Tail, Tale

Petruchio to Kate: “What, with my tongue in your tail?” (Shrew, II.i218); the suggestion prompts her to strike him. “Tail” could mean practically any sexy body part — probably “vagina” in this case.


The embarrassing result the way the Frenchman Dr. Caius pronounces “th.” “If there be one or two, I shall make-a the turd.” Evans: “In your teeth for shame!” (Wives, III,iii.236-37). Evan’s reply — which makes the point clear–was cut from the folio and is not printed in Riverside.


Used roughly fifty times in Shakespeare, most frequently in Troilus, Othello, Lear, Antony, and Timon. The word so horrified Victorians that it was exterminated from the stage and from some printed editions (such as Bowdler’s; see pages 18-19).


Sexual desire, sexual organs, and William Shakespeare himself in Sonnets 135 and 136, too long and intricate to quote here.


Formerly a very common euphemism for “penis.”


Some of the words here are still being used in the same lewd manner today. But words like “punk” and “yard” are used differently now and in a much cleaner context. This raunchiness is probably what endeared Shakespeare to the hoi polloi in his day, proving that the bard has some wicked sense of humor.


–> Camille Martinez

  1. March 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Dear, this is a very short lexicon! Hate to say it but its too much coarse and very one-sided Shakespeare. Shakespeare is not just bad words. Who would ever want to use this lexicon? For what purpose? Just for selling another dimension of sex? I love sex but the usage of it is over-exaggerated in this lexicon. There are bad dimensions of the language but hey this is too much! Hate the author of the book where you got it. =D

    • humunahumuna
      March 20, 2011 at 5:24 am

      True, but you can’t say this doesn’t paint Shakespeare in a new light. At the very least, it makes reading his stuff a bit more interesting since most people wouldn’t think the poster boy for English “high” literature would actually use lewd language.

      And I think this book isn’t meant to be taken seriously, so there shouldn’t be any worries. :))

    • March 20, 2011 at 12:40 pm

      “Shakespeare is not just bad words” is very indicative of the type of Shakespearean “scholar” you are, if you ask me. Not that I’m saying bad! It’s just that this kind of argument against works like these are telling on how we, as students of literature, view works of Shakespeare that we can’t accept that he was lowbrow at times.

      Hell, I’d say the majority of his works are lowbrow. They were staged at seedy places and created to entertain the “masses”, and the easiest way to do so is by sneaking in double entendres and racy jokes whenever they had a chance. I like this lexicon, because it allows us to look at his texts from another perspective. We’re so used to looking at Shakespeare as this bastion of glory and culture that I’m afraid we can’t look at the man’s jokes and laugh along with it. What’s wrong with tarnishing his nature a little bit? He’s high up that pedestal that our awareness that he was fond of scatological jokes and sexual puns would do little to bring the man down.

      Personally, I think we’re all sick of seeing Shakespeare’s “beautiful” language. We’re too overexposed to the “beauty” that we can’t accept that the man was, well, a man as well.

      For the reporter, nice work, although true, a little bit more could have been said, some more of your insight, and not just the stuff written in your source. Why exactly did you want to write this, and what is its relevance to people like us? That’s some of the stuff I think the first commenter was looking for in your work.

      • March 20, 2011 at 9:52 pm

        Hi… =D just read your comment.
        Yeah. I’m a hybrid Shakepearean scholar/ advocate of popular literature.

        But hey, you’re right. I really don’t know why sex in Shakespeare sells but hey it’s sex, and it’s over-rated. =D

        Thanks for your comment =D

    • thedamnedspot
      March 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm

      Dear commenter/s, this is not the entire lexicon. These are just excerpts from a chapter in the book I cited. @Leihmar, i’m afraid you don’t get the point of the book. It’s not an academic source. It’s something a lover of Shakespeare would read for fun. The book points out the lowbrow aspects in the bard’s work. If you try to check out the book, you’ll see that it also discusses possible issues of racism and sexism.

      @Openupyoursenses: I simply posted this particular entry for fun/discussion. I think the way some of these words have evolved through time might interest some of the people here.

  2. jkevin13
    March 24, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    This is very interesting. It will also be very interesting if there was a paper about how the noblemen and royalty of Shakespeare’s time reacted to those “vulgar” (which is simply relative) words when they watch the plays. That would be fun. Aren’t there some kind of old letters or diaries from that time which comment on these?

  1. January 7, 2013 at 11:58 am

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