Bawdy Words in Shakespeare's plays

What is bawdy?


  • Bawdy (old-fashioned) (of songs, plays, etc.) loud and dealing with sex in an amusing way (OED 2000:92).

  • bawdy
  1. Humorously coarse; risqué.
  2. Vulgar; lewd.

  • Bawdy, bawdry or bawdy-talk, refer to sexual intercourse.
  • A 'bawd' is a pimp or procuress;
  • "bawdry" is either dirty talk or the dirty behavior;
  • A "bawdy-house" is a whorehouse/ brothel.

In Shakespeare's play we find many characters talking bawdily, i.e. in sexual slang. Furthermore, there are characters, who are bawds, like e.g. Pompey in Measure for Measur or Bawd in Pericles.

However, often bawdy connotations are hardly recognizable for us. Click here for an example.