These outstanding insults are from an era before the English language got boiled down to 4-letter words.

"He had delusions of adequacy."
- Walter Kerr

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."
- 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)

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

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

"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

"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 lamp-posts... 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.

A Friendly Exchange

A member of Parliament to Disraeli:
"Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some other unspeakable disease."

"That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

A Friendly Exchange

"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, will attend second .... if there is one."
- Winston Churchill, in response.

Revised 2013 by Larry Gentleman