when insults had class

Only in Britain could it be thought a defect to be too clever by half. The probability is that too many people are too stupid by three-quarters. ―John Major

The Duke of Dunstable had one-way pockets. He would walk ten miles in the snow to chisel an orphan out of tuppence. ―P. G. Wodehouse

I never forget a face, but in your case, I’ll make an exception. ―Groucho Marx

If your brains were dynamite there wouldn’t be enough to blow your hat off. ―Kurt Vonnegut

He was a self-made man who owed his lack of success to nobody. —Joseph Heller

Last week, I stated this woman was the ugliest woman I had ever seen. I have since been visited by her sister, and now wish to withdraw that statement. –Mark Twain

I thought the play was frightful, but I saw it under particularly unfortunate circumstances. The curtain was up. ―George S. Kaufman

If there had been any formidable body of cannibals in the country, he would have promised to provide them with free missionaries fattened at the taxpayers’ expense. —H. L. Mencken, about Harry Truman

She was not a woman of many words; for, unlike people in general, she proportioned them to the number of her ideas. —Jane Austen

Henry Blake-Somerset had all the charm and warmth of a body that has been in the water several days with the thermometer in the low twenties. ―P. G. Wodehouse

He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire. —Winston Churchill

I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure. —Clarence Darrow

He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know. —Abraham Lincoln

Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it. —Moses Hadas

I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it. —Groucho Marx

He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends. —Oscar Wilde

Purkiss looked at him fishily, nature having made it impossible for him to look at anyone otherwise, he being a man with a face like a halibut. —P. G. Wodehouse

I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend… if you have one. —George Bernard Shaw, to Winston Churchill

Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second… if there is one. —Winston Churchill, in response

I feel so miserable without you, it’s almost like having you here. —Stephen Bishop

He is a self-made man and worships his creator. —John Bright

He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others. —Samuel Johnson

He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up. —Paul Keating

It had been said of Crispin Scrope with considerable justice that if men were dominoes, he would be the double blank. — P. G. Wodehouse

I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial. —Irvin S. Cobb

There’s nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won’t cure. —Jack E. Leonard

They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge. —Thomas Brackett Reed

He inherited some good instincts from his Quaker forebears, but by diligent hard work, he overcame them. —James Reston, about Richard Nixon

A modest little person, with much to be modest about. —Winston Churchill, about Clement Atlee

He loves nature in spite of what it did to him. —Forrest Tucker

Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it? —Mark Twain

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go. —Oscar Wilde

He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts — for support rather than illumination. —Andrew Lang

He had delusions of adequacy. —Walter Kerr

He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary. —William Faulkner, about Ernest Hemingway

Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? —Ernest Hemingway, about William Faulkner

When the Okies left Oklahoma and moved to California, it raised the I.Q. of both states. —Will Rogers

He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up to the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash. —H. L. Mencken, about Warren Harding

He had just about enough intelligence to open his mouth when he wanted to eat, but certainly no more. ―P. G. Wodehouse

I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury. —Groucho Marx

In our last conflict four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man governed with one: so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse. —William Shakespeare, in Much Ado About Nothing

I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it. —Mark Twain


6 Responses to when insults had class

  1. David Trace says:

    Love your site. These insults from Luther are quite classic, although not as subtle. http://ergofabulous.org/luther/


  2. texan59 says:

    Love this. I shall be borrowing some from time to time.


  3. jksfamily5 says:

    I once saw Wm. F. Buckley, during a TV “debate” or forum, or something, tell Jesse Jackson, to his face, that anyone who voted for him (Jackson) was insane. I am not kidding. It was priceless.


    • I can totally see WFB saying that. When Jackson was running against Walter Mondale for the Democrat nomination in 1984, a woman I knew told me she was voting for Jackson, and I wanted to say the same thing, but restrained myself. This woman went on to say that there was no way Ronald Reagan was going to be elected to a second term, and she obviously believed what she was saying. She made this comment mere months before Reagan was re-elected in a 49-state landslide.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. jksfamily5 says:

    An excellent insult was coined here at our house this week: “You are so shallow, if you were a swimming pool, and I dived in, I’d be paralyzed.” I thought that had a nice ring to it and only here is there a place for it.


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