Shakespeare Dictionary - K

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Generate random Shakespearean insults

Shakespeare's word

Meaning (in the sample usage)



Sample usage


light-armed Irish or Scottish foot soldier; distinguished from gallowglass,
often used as a term of contempt


Rich II 2.1

2 HVI 3.1

2 HVI 3.1

supplant those rough rug-headed kerns

The uncivil kerns of Ireland are in arms.

like a shag-hair'd crafty kern


trifle (Fr. quelque-choses)


TN 1.3

Art thou good at these kickshawses, knight?


strike smartly, snap, knock


Lear 2.4

she knapped 'em o' the coxcombs

Olivier as LearWhen I was in college, struggling through my Signet volume of Shakespeare, I didn't have the time, money, or inclination to buy audio tapes of the plays. I've done so recently, and what a difference.

In part, because Shakespeare was meant to be heard (and seen), and in part, because the English language has changed, listening to King Lear, or any of the plays, while reading the text, adds a whole new dimension.

The humor becomes clearer; anger is better conveyed; the reader/listener at once can absorb so much more of the play. For King Lear this version with Sir Laurence Olivier, is excellent.

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