Shakespeare’s dildo, and other secret Early Modern pleasures

Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale is best known for what’s probably the most famous stage direction in the history of English drama: “Exit, pursued by a bear” (3.3.57). But the Bard slips in another memorable line that’s sure to get a…

Great moments in swearing: Naughty spelling in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

Swearing loves spelling. We abbreviate it online: WTF and GTFO. We encode it in military acronyms: SNAFU and FUBAR. We play with letters to avoid taboos: H-E-double-hockey-sticks. We spin apocryphal tales of sweary etymology: Ship High In Transit and For…

Genitive cunts and masculine whores: the smutty Latin of Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor

“Hang him, mechanical salt-butter rogue!” Falstaff colorfully denounces Master Ford as a working-class peon in The Merry Wives of Windsor (2.2.246). Shakespeare packs this gender and class comedy with pranks, pratfalls, and, yes, profanity. But no swearing is quite as…

Shockingly modern-sounding slang in Shakespeare’s (shockingly violent) Titus Andronicus

While we flip the bird at explicit language advisories on this blog, I do want to issue a trigger warning for this post due to fictional content about rape. That’s a hell of way to kick off a little language…