Insults or a way with words

These insults are from an era when the English language did not depend on 4-letter words - Insults then, had some class ! If only some of the posts on this forum were to do the same - let’s have some more examples.

  1. “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, I will attend the
    second… If there is one.”

    • Winston Churchill, in response.
  2. A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows, or of some unspeakable disease.”
    “That depends, Sir,” said Disraeli, “whether I embrace your
    policies or your mistress.”

  3. “He had delusions of adequacy.” - Walter Kerr

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

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

    • William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).
  2. “Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it.”

    • Moses Hadas
  3. “I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”

    • Mark Twain
  4. “He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends…”

    • Oscar Wilde
  5. “I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here.”

    • Stephen Bishop
  6. “He is a self-made man and worships his creator.”

    • John Bright
  7. “I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial.”

    • Irvin S. Cobb
  8. “He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in

    • Samuel Johnson
  9. “He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.”

    • Paul Keating
  10. “In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded

    • Charles, Count Talleyrand
  11. “He loves nature in spite of what it did to him.”

    • Forrest Tucker
  12. “Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?”

    • Mark Twain
  13. “His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.”

    • Mae West
  14. “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.”

    • Oscar Wilde
  15. “He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts…
    For support rather than illumination.”

    • Andrew Lang (1844-1912)
  16. “He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.”

    • Billy Wilder
  17. “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.”

    • Groucho Marx.
  18. “He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”

    • Winston Churchill

Taken from the Independent:

Churchill has topped a poll of history’s funniest insults with a famous jibe directed at either the socialist MP Bessie Braddock or the Conservative Lady Astor, the first female MP (depending on which version of the story you hear).

When accused by one of them of being ‘disgustingly drunk’ the Conservative Prime Minister responded: ‘My dear, you are ugly, and what’s more, you are disgustingly ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be disgustingly ugly.’


Lou Reed from the Metal Machine Music sleeve notes 1975.

“My week beats your year”


Excellent music link

I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace.

D. John from “Much Ado about Nothing”, William Shakespeare


Lady Astor to Sir Winston “ If you were my husband sir, I’d poison your coffee”

Sir Winston in reply “Madam, if I were your husband, I’d drink it !”


She looked as if she had been poured into her clothes and had forgotten to say “when”.
PG Wodehouse


Jacques Chirac, President of France at that time, was in the crowd during the annual agriculture show in Paris. A man shaked his hand and said to him « salut connard! ».
Chirac responded « I am Chirac « ( « moi c’est Chirac « ).


You may have to explain that one for the non French speaking members (or just me) :grin:

« Salut connard ! « means « hi, a.hole! «
Chirac, the President, responded « me it’s Chirac « . Chirac responded as if the man would have introduced himself with a name as « a.hole ».
Try to google « connard « french in english.


Many quips from Sir Winston Churchil:

Spoken to President Harry S. Truman on Prime Minister Clement Attlee:

“A modest man, who has much to be modest about”

On Labour Party Prime Minister James Ramsay MacDonald:

“A Sheep in Sheep’s clothing.”

When disturbed by the Lord Privy Seal while in the toilet:

“Tell him I can only deal with one s**t at a time.”

On Conservative politician Arthur Balfour:

“If you want nothing done, Arthur Belfour was the best man for the task. There was no equal to him.”

On Americans:

“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.”

From Mark Twain:

"Tea is an affront to lunch and an insult to dinner."

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of congress. But then I repeat myeself.”

Of a much praised book by Henry James:

“Once you put it down, you simply can’t pick it up.”

" If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; this is the principal difference between dog and man."

"In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language.

" Wagner’s Music Is Really Much Better Than It Sounds" – After attending Tristan und Isolde

MARK TWAIN AT BAYREUTH [Often retitled "At the Shrine of St. Wagner"]

“…This present opera was “Parsifal.” Madame Wagner does not permit its representation anywhere but in Bayreuth. The first act of the three occupied two hours, and I enjoyed that in spite of the singing…”


When I was at school. A proper grammar school. A favourite English teacher commented on my uniform, which was meant to look smart. He said I "looked like a big black bin bag full of sick, that’s loosely tied around the middle ". Proper class. Still traumatised by it…


I’m sure now you could either sue him or the school.

Churchill was such a boss. Incredible man.

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Rossini’s head isn’t stuffed with music it’s stuffed with mortadella.

Wagner has beautiful moments but awful quarter-hours.


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