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Article  •  14 November 2022


14 of the best literary insults perfect for a quick comeback

Some of the biggest burns from classic literature.

Who would’ve guessed that some of the best one-liners have come from classic literature?

While we’re not advocating for argumentative behaviour, a solid diss can be a salve for the soul when you’re in the trenches of an engrossing read.

When you’ve just about had it up to here with that character, there is nothing quite as satisfying as a quick quip that puts them in their place.

Read on to see some of the best literary insults and most memorable one-liners from famous books.

14 of the best insults from classic literature

A Feast For Crows George R.R. Martin

'The man is as useless as nipples on a breastplate.'

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Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy

'He liked fishing and seemed to take pride in being able to like such a stupid occupation.'

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As You Like It William Shakespeare

'I desire that we be better strangers.'

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Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell

'My dear, I don't give a damn.'

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Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

'You are the last man in the world I could ever be prevailed upon to marry.'

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Metamorphosis: Popular Penguins Franz Kafka

'He was a tool of the boss, without brains or backbone.'

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The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain

'Well, Ben Rogers, if I was as ignorant as you I wouldn't let on.'

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The Dying Animal Philip Roth

'Stop worrying about growing old. And think about growing up.'

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The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays Oscar Wilde

'I never saw anybody take so long to dress, and with such little result.'


'The simplicity of your character makes you exquisitely incomprehensible to me.'

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The Lion and the Unicorn George Orwell

'He is simply a hole in the air.'

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The Long Good-bye Raymond Chandler

'You talk too damn much and too damn much of it is about you.'

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The Merchant of Venice William Shakespeare

'You speak an infinite deal of nothing.'

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The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde

'Without your art you are nothing. I would have made you famous, splendid, magnificent. The world would have worshipped you, and you would have borne my name. What are you now? A third-rate actress with a pretty face.'

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