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A Literary Insult For Every Occasion

Famous authors have been known to go around insulting each other, but their characters aren’t saints either (or maybe they are, if you ask a certain Ellsworth Toohey). Of course, Shakespeare is famous for the insults in his plays, but he’s not the only one putting some very rude remarks into his characters’ mouths — our favorite literature is full of witty jibes, bold attacks, and sly rejoinders. Click through to see some of the best put-downs in the wide realm of literature — and how we suggest you utilize them — and of course there are hundreds where these came from, so if we’ve missed your favorite zinger, add it to our collection in the comments!

When faced with someone else’s incomprehensible slang:

“Well, well, well, well. If it isn’t fat, stinking billygoat Billy-Boy in poison. How art thou, thy globby bottle of cheap, stinking chip-oil? Come and get one in the yarbles, if you have any yarbles, you eunuch jelly thou.” – A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

To liven up a dull conversation:

“If your brains were dynamite there wouldn’t be enough to blow your hat off.” – Timequake, Kurt Vonnegut

For telling someone to get lost, but nicely:

“I desire that we be better strangers.” - As You Like It, William Shakespeare

For when someone is quite below your notice, and you want to let them know:

“He is simply a hole in the air.” – The Lion and the Unicorn, George Orwell

For dispelling any illusions:

“Don’t fool yourself, my dear. You’re much worse than a bitch. You’re a saint. Which shows why saints are dangerous and undesirable.” – The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand

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