‘Thou Smell of Mountain Goat’ and Other Useful Comebacks

Groucho Marx

‘That’s not writing, it’s typing.’ Truman Capote said of Jack Kerouac. When writers aren’t dissing each other, they put their best insults in their books. Here are some of my favourite literary put-downs.

This post was inspired by a birthday gift of Shakespearean insult badges (see picture). I remember when my birthday badges used to say ‘It’s my birthday’ or ‘I’m [insert age here] today’, but as they don’t seem to make those for people over a certain age, these days I get ‘Thou smell of mountain goat’.  Let’s start with some more classic barbs from the bard.

William Shakespeare

‘I desire that we be better strangers.’ The classy way to unfriend someone. 

shakespearean insults

‘He has not so much brain as earwax.’ Which reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut:  ‘If your brains were dynamite, there wouldn’t be enough to blow your hat off.’

Jane Austen

For when the obligatory guy with acoustic guitar and indeterminate facial hair arrangement has pushed it with one too many Jeff Buckley covers around the camp fire… ‘You have delighted us long enough.’

‘Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition.’ Just wander off into your mind palace when above bloke has had his instrument forcible removed and turns instead to monologuing cod philosophy.

P.G Wodehouse

‘And she’s got brains enough for two, which is the exact quantity the girl who marries you will need.’ A genuinely slow person may struggle with the maths here, thus you are safe to insult away without fear of repercussions.

‘You probably think that being a guest in your aunt’s house I would hesitate to butter you all over the front lawn and dance on the fragments in hobnailed boots, but you are mistaken. It would be a genuine pleasure.’

Charles Dickens

‘He’d make a lovely corpse.’ It’s a threat, but not one Scotland Yard could have you for.

‘The plain truth is, that he was a most intolerable ruffian, a disgrace to human nature, and a blot of blood and grease upon the history of England.’ Tell me what you really think…

Oscar Wilde

‘I never saw someone take so long to dress which such little result.’ Boom. Or perhaps we should forgo unkind banter and follow Wilde’s wise judgement:

always forgive

Do you have a favourite? Tell me in the comments! If you enjoyed this, please like and share.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “‘Thou Smell of Mountain Goat’ and Other Useful Comebacks

  1. Ian Luck

    A couple of my favourite barbed comments, which I have used, on many occasions are:
    “I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.” (I do not know the origin of this, though it is definitely Wildean in flavour, and I love using it), and, (to be said at the end of a meal):
    “That was inedible muck – and there wasn’t enough of it.”
    The origin of that is from ‘Sir Henry At Rawlinson End’ – the film version of the strange and very funny story by the late, and very great Vivian Stanshall.

    Like

    • What fantastic examples! I love the battle of wits line – I keenly await the opportunity to employ it. The latter is excellent too; I shall have to try and get hold of ‘Sir Henry At Rawlinson End’.

      Like

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