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When insults had class...


This has been traveling around the Internet for a while, but it’s worth preserving here.  These glorious insults are from an era that valued cleverness with words; an era when the leaders of society didn't need to use profanity or the middle finger to make their point.


Sir Winston Churchill vs. Lady Astor:
Lady Astor:“If you were my husband I’d give you poison.”
Sir Winston:“If you were my wife, I’d drink it.”


A member of Parliament to Disraeli:
Member:“Sir, you will either die on the gallows, or of some unspeakable disease.”
Disraeli:“That depends, Sir, upon whether I embrace your policies, or your mistress.”


“He had delusions of adequacy.” – Walter Kerr


“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” – Winston Churchill


“A modest little person, with much to be modest about.” – Winston Churchill


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


William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway):

“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”

Ernest Hemingway (about William Faulkner):

“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”



“Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it.” – Moses Hadas


“He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know.” – Abraham Lincoln
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“I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” – Mark Twain


“He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.” – Oscar Wilde


George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill:

“I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend.... if you have one.”

Winston Churchill, in response:

“Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second… if there is one.”



“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


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


“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


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


“He has the attention span of a lightning bolt.” – Robert Redford


“They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.” – Thomas Brackett Reed
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“In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily.” – Charles, Count Talleyrand


“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


“His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.” – Mae West


“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 (1844-1912)


“He has Van Gogh's ear for music.” – Billy Wilder


“I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it.” – Groucho Marx