Twelve Classy Insults from the Past

A lot of insults have been flying around on social media in the last few days, weeks, and months. Most of them boil down to, “if you don’t agree with me you’re an idiot.”

This got me to thinking about a time when insults, public and private, had a little thought behind them. In fact, my dad used to say that the best insult was when the person didn’t realize they’d been insulted. So, for your insulting pleasure, I bring you, twelve of my favorite insults from the past, insults with style. Enjoy. *s*


1. “He had delusions of adequacy.” – Walter Kerr

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

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

4. “He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others.” – Samuel Johnson

5. “He is a self-made man and worships his creator.” – John Bright

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

7. A graceful taunt is worth a thousand insults.” – Louis Nizer

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

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

10.        “They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.” -Thomas Brackett Reed

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

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


Linking up with the Ultimate Blog Challenge today. While insulting someone is never nice. Sometimes we just can’t keep our mouths shut. In those cases, if we can at least insult nicely, maybe feeling wouldn’t be hurt, friendships dissolved, and arguments started. Share your thoughts.


Did we used to be nicer when we insulted someone?

Do you have a favorite way of letting someone know when you’re unhappy with their actions?

Are any of these a favorite for you?



About Nita

Quilter, writer, speaker, mom and grandmom. I enjoy making quilts for my grandkids, and other children. I especially love hearing and sharing quilt stories with others, that's how the book came about and this blog will continue to share quilt stories and how God works with quilts to comfort and teach us.
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6 Responses to Twelve Classy Insults from the Past

  1. Kelly Michelle says:

    Your dad was absolutely right. This is one of my favorites “I’m sorry dear, in order for you to insult me, I must first value your opinion; Nice try though. I don’t know who said it but it made me laugh.

  2. Nita says:

    That sounds similar to something Johnny Cash is reported to have said. When his daughter Roseann and her boyfriend at the time (he later became her husband and then they divorced) were late to a family gathering, the boyfriend apologized for being late. Cash is reported to have said, “I didn’t notice, you aren’t important enough in my life for me to care.” Ouch!

  3. LadyInRead says:

    totally agree, i do tend to say this to my kids a lot, ‘if you can’t say something nice, then say nothing at all’.(and that also extends now to include insults , hopefully they won’t need to do this – learning the art of classy insults – until much much later :))
    they have let me know that i do tend to get creatively angry with them and they don’t realize i was scolding them until sometime later 🙂 they are usually smiling at what i said first before they realize it was a scold..

  4. shalzmojo says:

    Wow. I am laughing as I read this. Thanks for sharing such a witty post on true classic gems. 😊

  5. Martha DeMeo says:

    Great list of quotes! I actually know a few that would fit under #5.

  6. priscillaking says:

    I’ve found a use for one of these…not sure about people being nicer, because I’ve read some old books in which nice people said horrible things without a second thought, but we-as-the-English-speaking-world did have more appreciation for a *witty* insult.

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