Famous put-downs

He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.

William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)


If I were married to you, I’d put poison in your coffee.

Lady Astor (to Winston Churchill)

If you were my wife, I’d drink it.

Winston Churchill, in reply


Do you mind if I smoke?

Oscar Wilde (to Sarah Bernhardt)

I don’t care if you burn.

Sarah Bernhardt, in reply


He is so dumb he can’t fart and chew gum at the same time.

Lyndon Baines Johnson (about Gerald Ford)


He inherited some good instincts from his Quaker forebears, but by diligent hard work, he overcame them.

James Reston (about Richard Nixon)


A triumph of the embalmer’s art.

Gore Vidal (about Ronald Reagan)


I believe that Ronald Reagan will someday make this country what it once was… an arctic wilderness.

Steve Martin


How can they tell?

Dorothy Parker (hearing of Calvin Coolidge’s death)


That’s not writing, that’s typing.

Truman Capote (about Jack Kerouac’s style)


The only genius with an IQ of 60.

Gore Vidal (about Andy Warhol)


She speaks five languages and can’t act in any of them.

John Gielgud (about Ingrid Bergman)


A sophistical rhetorician, inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity, and gifted with an egotistical imagination that can at all times command an interminable and inconsistent series of arguments to malign an opponent and to glorify himself. Benjamin Disraeli (about William Gladstone)


Blackadder – Baldrick, you’re fired.
Baldrick – (aghast) Oh, but I’ve been in your family since 1532!
Blackadder – So has syphilis. Now get out.


2 Responses to Famous put-downs

  1. peter stone says:

    Dear Martin

    Not sure how this works but have a comment of sorts to make after seeing Faulkner’s put down of Hemingway’s vocab. (too simple).

    It was said (maybe by Hemingway) that if Faulkner hadn’t drunk a quart of Jack Daniels a day he wouldn’t have been able to write those convuluted page and half sentences filled with 10 dollar words (definitely Hemingway’s expression) which nobody is able to follow without drinking a quart of bourbon themselves. If fact he would probably have written nothing at all and instead like a true Southern gentleman just sat on his porch all day smoking a Virginia cheroot, sipping a mint julep (without the julep), reading the Klu Klux Clan social column in the Yoknapatawpha County Gazette and eyeing up the piccaninees pickin’ cotton in the fields over yondah.

    Make – or do – with this what you will..

    Yours sincerely

    P. Stein

  2. […] but I enjoy writing them. I also love scouring the Internet and compiling those collections such as Famous put-downs, Untranslatable words, Really terrible predictions, Classic cock-ups, and all those quotes. I have […]

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