Friday, 10 February 2012

Devastating English ...

The English language is rich in words which accurately, and sometimes devastatingly, express an opinion. Her are some prime examples of devastating insults from before the current trend toward inadequate command of the language and the common use of expletives in place of adjectives ...

"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. 

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." 

"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 

"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

My personal favourites are from Sir Winston Churchill - 

"The Honourable Member has conveyed to the House a serious terminological inexactitude in this matter." (A wonderful way to call someone a liar!)

And the utterly unanswerable retort to Lady Astor on the steps of the Ritz in London ...

She: "Winston, you're drunk!"

Response: "Madam, you are ugly. In the morning, I shall be sober."

I was reminded of two more I share with Josephus - 

"Sir, I have found you and argument. I am not obliged to find you an understanding." - Samuel Johnson


"I prefer the bikini model of statistics - what they reveal may be suggestive, but what they conceal is vital." - Unattributed. 


  1. This is the funniest thing I've read in a long time, has me still laughing heartily.

    Many thanks!!!! :-)

  2. Then there was the tale of Winston Churchill in the gentleman's toilet at the House of Commons. As the tale goes, Winston entered the facility, where there was the old style setup of a wall of ceramic tile used as a urinal, running the length of the wall. Upon entering, he came upon Clement Attle, the leader of the opposition, standing near the door, taking care of business, whereupon Winston walked the length of the room to the opposite end. Mr. Attle, seeing this, said "Winston, I know we have our differences in the house, but do we have to bring them into this chamber". Winston, quick as a flash, replied, "Clement, the trouble with you socialists is that every time you see something in robust condition, you always want to nationalize it."