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They Don't Make Insults Like They Used To

Here are 12 great insults that took skill and imagination, not middle fingers


I miss clever insults.

True, it's not nice to insult anyone, but I have to admit that I enjoy reading about other people's insults because I envy their ability to come up with a great insult in the moment. Even if I thought of a clever insult, it would be days later and no one would be around to hear it.

From the days when insults were an art form (not like today, when a four-letter word or a middle finger will do) come these gems…

Lady Astor to Winston Churchill: "If you were my husband I'd give you poison."
Churchill to Lady Astor: "If you were my wife, I'd drink it."

"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

"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

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it."
- Mark Twain

"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here."
- Stephen Bishop

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

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial."
- Irvin S. Cobb

"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

"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 loves nature in spite of what it did to him."
- Forrest Tucker

"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily."
- Charles, Count Talleyrand

"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 lamp-posts... For support rather than illumination."
- Andrew Lang (18 44-1912)

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music."
- Billy Wilder

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it."
- Groucho Marx

And my favorite…

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."
Churchill to Shaw: "Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second...if there is one."

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