April 6, 2011

The Fart Jokes of William Shakespeare

"In sooth!"
William Shakespeare was one of the greatest writers of all time.

And he liked fart jokes!

The website Shakesyear has taken a look at a number of these. For instance, in Shakespeare’s play King Lear, the king gives a speech as his daughter is thrown out into a storm: 
“Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow!”

Of course, you could argue that the idea is that the wind is blowing like in the illustration. But still! 

One of Shakespeare’s most famous fart references is from The Comedy of Errors, when a character named Dromio says:
A man may break a word with you, sir, and words are but wind
Ay, and break it in your face, so he break it not behind.
In other words, it's better to have someone break their word to you than fart.
(To read more, click "

In Othello, musicians are performing when a clown interrupts them.
CLOWN: Are these, I pray you, wind instruments? [Instruments you blow into to make music.]
FIRST MUSICIAN: Ay marry are they, sir.
CLOWN: O, thereby hangs a tail.
FIRST MUSICIAN: Whereby hangs a tail, sir?
CLOWN: Marry, sir, by many a wind instrument that I know.
The tail the clown speaks of is a butt. The clown means that the butt is a wind instrument, and the fart is the music it plays!

In Two Gentlemen from Verona, a young man named Proteus likes a girl named Silvia. So Proteus gives her a dog named Crab as a gift. One problem: Crab farts!
As a servant named Launce explains:
LAUNCE. …I was sent to deliver [the dog] as a present to Mistress Silvia from my master . . . [the dog goes] under the Duke’s table; he had not been there, bless the mark, a pissing while but all the chamber smelt him. [Translation: The dog farts.] ‘Out with the dog’ says one; ‘What cur is that?’ says another; ‘Whip him out’ says the third; ‘Hang him up’ says the Duke. I, having been acquainted with the smell before, knew it was Crab, and goes me to the fellow that whips the dogs. ‘Friend,’ quoth I ‘you mean to whip the dog.’ ‘Ay, marry do I’ quoth he. ‘You do him the more wrong,’ quoth I; “twas I did the thing you wot of.’ [Translation: “I farted.”] He makes me no more ado, but whips me out of the chamber.
So what happens here is that the dog farts. It stinks. And the dog is going to be whipped for farting, but the servant, Launce, takes credit for the fart instead. So Launce gets whipped!

Finally, in the play Henry IV, Part 1, two rebel leaders speak, namely Owen Glendower and Harry Hotspur. Here, Glendower is claiming to be a mighty wizard whose birth was a big deal.
GLENDOWER: I say the earth did shake when I was born . . . . 
The heavens were all on fire, the earth did tremble.
HOTSPUR: O, then the earth shook to see the heavens on fire
And not in fear of your nativity.
Diseased nature oftentimes breaks forth
In strange eruptions. Oft the teeming earth
Is with a kind of colic pinched and vexed
By the imprisoning of unruly wind
Within her womb, which for enlargement striving
Shakes the old beldam earth and topples down
Steeples and moss-grown towers. At your birth
Our grandma earth, having this distemperature,
In passion shook.
Translation: As the website Shakesyear puts it, “The earth farted when you were born.” 


  1. How about the one in Macbeth? Act I Scene 3, I just wrote a few words about it on my blog at www.deduobusmalis.com.

    1. This is what happens when you're stupid. Why didn't you repeat the line(s) here? The link is not working.

    2. That's a bit harsh, Unknown, don't you think?

  2. Thanks for that! http://deduobusmalis.com/2011/12/30/fart-joke-in-shakespeares-macbeth-explained/

  3. In Henry I'VE part 2, that was a long winded way of saying it

  4. "Unruly wind within her womb." I think that technically the earth queefed.

  5. I think the last one was actually is actually part I of Henry IV (Hotspur dies at the end, so he's not in part II). Great list :)

  6. Duly noted and corrected. Thanks!

  7. 'Tis now the very witching time of night,
    When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
    Contagion to this world."

    Not actually a fart joke, but I like to use it as one anyway...

  8. I read somewhere (and the OED confirms) that in Shakespeare's English, "breaking wind upward" was burping, while "breaking wind downward" was farting. Which adds a little to the *Comedy of Errors* joke.


No bad words, thanks!