9 Shakespeare Quotes That Make Great Breakup Lines

by Brigid Ronan

We all remember the first time we said it, teenage heart aflutter, gazing into our partner’s eyes with breathless uncertainty as we uttered the three little words that forever change a relationship: “Let’s break up.” Those were simpler times.

Now that you’ve grown older, slightly wiser, and much more verbose when letting someone down, you’ve realized that those three little words just won’t cut it. Trying to find the perfect way to tell that (un)special someone you’re just not that into him or her anymore is no small undertaking. Amy Schumer may have had a professional dream breakup planner, but you aren’t Amy Schumer (sorry), so you must get creative.

Regardless of whether you’re hoping to soften — or sharpen — the blow, your best bet is to keep the speech as elegant as possible. Stick to the classics! In this case, who better to invoke than the father of English literature himself, William Shakespeare? Take these words from Twelfth Night, for example: “Go to, you're a dry fool; I'll no more of you: besides, you grow dishonest.” How's that for a poetic breakup line? After all, the bard was master at writing about love – he better know a thing or two about heartbreak.

Here, 9 of the best early Modern English ways to break the unsavory news...

"Out of my door, you witch, you hag, you baggage, you polecat, you runyon! out, out! I'll conjure you, I'll fortune-tell you."

The Merry Wives of Windsor

No one likes to be called a "polecat," but the truth can hurt, can't it, polecat?

"True is it that we have seen better days"

—As You Like It

Trying to let someone down as gently as possible? Ease the blow by harkening back to happy days long past.

"Nay, when? Strike now, or else the iron cools."

Henry VI

Should've texted me when you had the chance. Strike while the iron is hot, as they say.

"Thou liest, thou shag-hair'd villain!"


This is a great line to use if the guy you've been dating has a man-bun that simply needs to go.

"Never hung poison on a fouler toad. Out of my sight! Thou dost infect mine eyes."

Richard III

"Thou dost infect mine eyes" is a much more interesting way of telling someone you will be unfollowing him on Instagram to avoid any further eye infection.

"Give me now leave, to leave thee."

Twelfth Night

Make a clean break with this polite, yet firm goodbye.

"Fie on thee, wretch! 'tis pity that thou livest / To walk where any honest man resort."

Comedy of Errors

Fie on the wretch who dare be dishonest with you.

"Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood."

King Lear

There is nothing sexy about an embossed carbuncle. You've made your feelings pretty clear with this one.

"Farewell, bastard."

Troilus and Cressida

Sometimes, just sometimes, less is more.

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