In England when Shakespeare was writing, the word ‘Nothing’ was slang for female genitalia, meaning ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is a dirty double entendre.

Why Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is a brilliant sneaky innuendo

It’s one of Shakespeare’s best works, it’s a brilliant take on gender roles, and it’s also a sexual joke: in Shakespeare’s time, the word ‘Nothing’ was slang for female genitalia. The title of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is a double entendre.

The play was probably written in 1598 and 1599 when Shakespeare was mid-career, and is riddled with jokes and plays on words — though some of them have been shrouded by changing linguistics and semantics. Even one that is in the title remains hidden to most people — after all, why would “nothing” be dirty?

Much of this play revolves around writing secret messages, spying, and eavesdropping. People are constantly pretending to be others or being mistaken for other people, and are constantly tricked… Continue Reading (3 minute read)

13 thoughts on “In England when Shakespeare was writing, the word ‘Nothing’ was slang for female genitalia, meaning ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is a dirty double entendre.”

  1. AngryCod

    I mean, pretty much all of Shakespeare is dirty double entendres.

  2. goddamnitmf

    What are you thinking about?
    Nothing

  3. firelock_ny

    My sister teaches high school English. She tells her students that if they don’t understand something in Shakespeare it’s probably a sex joke.

  4. Raoul_Duke_Nukem

    I eat nothing all day and I’m still gaining weight.

  5. WhoDatDatDidDat

    Ve believe in nothing, Lebowski.

  6. Ice_Burn

    It was actually a triple entendre. Nothing and noting were pronounced the same then so it was a pun. The plot involved people overhearing conversations and taking notes.

  7. zero_phux

    “Will” was slang for Penis. It’s found throughout his work too.

  8. NarrativeScorpion

    Shakespeare is 90% dirty jokes.
    The rest is murder.

  9. __fuzz__

    Wait until you learn that “die” and “death” were euphamisms for orgasms. Now go re-read Romeo and Juliet.

  10. PM_ME_A_PLANE_TICKET

    90% of Shakespeare is sex jokes

  11. Kayge

    What gets lost over a couple of centuries is what he was like in his time. There was sex, action and comic relief to keep everyone happy. In his time the bills were paid by the commoners who went to see his plays so keeping them all happy was key to a successful business.

    Today, he’s to go to for your English Lit PhD, but in his time he was equal parts Disney, Michael Bay and Hugh Hefner.

  12. CleatusVandamn

    Wait it was called nothing because there was no penis? I need to know more about the etymology of this

  13. hamlet9000

    [This is false.](https://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/29277/theater/thought-of-the-day-whorehouse-nunneries-and-vagina-nothings)

    “The modern tradition of asserting that “nothing” means “vagina” in Shakespeare appears to date back to Stephen Booth’s 1977 edition of the Sonnets. But Booth doesn’t appear to give any evidence that “nothing” was actually used that way in Elizabethan slang. His claim is based almost entirely around “wouldn’t it be nifty if this sonnet said ‘pussy’ instead of ‘nothing’?” (He also maintains that “all” means “penis” because it sounds like “awl” which looks like a penis. And that “hell” also means vagina because… well, just because.)”

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