Saturday, September 19, 2015

How to Insult with Style

Most of us were brought up with the maxim “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything all.” But if you absolutely must insult someone, learn a thing or two about panache from the masters of wordcraft:

“A graceful taunt is worth a thousand insults.”—Louis Nizer

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

“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

“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)

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

“His ears made him look like a taxicab with both doors open.”—Howard Hughes (about Clark Gable)

“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

“He had delusions of adequacy.”—Walter Kerr

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

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

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

“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

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

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

“A solemn, unsmiling, sanctimonious old iceberg who looked like he was waiting for a vacancy in the Trinity.”—Mark Twain

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

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

“She is a peacock in everything but beauty.”—Oscar Wilde

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

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

“He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.”—Billy Wilder

“He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination."”—Andrew Lang