As the animosity endures and our country continues to be divided over not just Brexit but the minutia within it, the same tired insults keep appearing online and in person. Anna Soubry was accosted outside parliament earlier this year and called a Nazi, which is offensive, inaccurate and, worst of all, unoriginal. Seeing as it doesn’t look like we’re going to all kiss and make up any time soon, let’s at least improve our trash talk. Here are some of the best insults in history, both from fiction and real life, to inspire you:
1. Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.
Dorothy Parker was the unrivalled queen of wit, and this insult is perfect for anyone paying more attention to appearances than character.
2. He is a modest man with much to be modest about
Spoken by Winston Churchill on Prime Minister Clement Atlee. Churchill is perhaps the best political inspiration for a clever retort. Use this insult in the office as it avoids any NSFW words.
3. A chateau bottled nuclear powered ocean going s**t.
Clearly, a damning intellect is hereditary as Churchill’s grandson, the politician Sir Nicholas Soames, said this statement of Assange on Twitter. It zings off the screen like a line from a Gilbert and Sullivan song. Use this phrase on a Bullingdon Boy (there seem to be plenty of them about these days).
4. Thou elvish-mark’d, abortive, rooting hog
Shakespearean insults are sure to leave your target beguiled and speechless. Best to use this slur on someone less smart than yourself to avoid an iambic pentametered quote off.
5. Your mother was a hamster and your father smells of elderberries
This classic Monty Python jibe is spoken by the outrageously accented Frenchman in The Life of Brian. Use it when arguing with someone you secretly want to make up with. If they recognise the line, your fight will immediately diffuse as you laugh at memories of the rest of the film. If not, they clearly deserve the damning dig.
6. Ya basic
While basic has been used as a put down since Sylvia Plath (and then by every celebrity in 2015) it’s really Netflix’s TV comedy The Good Place that gives this insult the devastating force it deserves. Use it, on Gen Y and below (the older generations may get confused and think it’s a compliment)
7. Isn’t it dangerous to use ones entire vocabulary in a single sentence
This pejorative insult is from the cartoon Oliver and Company. Particularly useful when responding to an insult you don’t really understand without having to admit it.
8. You can only offend me if you mean something to me
Coined by comedian Chris Rock, the impact of this comeback is wholly dependent on how much the person cares for you. Used correctly on a family member or partner it can be nuclear.
9. His Mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork
The American actress Mae West was incredibly confident and witty. Following another one of her sayings, ‘Tell the pretty ones they’re smart and tell the smart ones they’re pretty’ use this with men whose behaviour would make their parents blush.
10. You are a sad, strange little man, and you have my pity.
Buzz Lightyear has lessons for children and adults alike. Use this with those who pride themselves on their status, to bring them down to toy size.