Wittiest Comebacks of All Time

alex atkins bookshelf quotationsWe’ve all been there. Someone makes a snide remark and you either you deliver a feeble response or walk away in silence, angry and annoyed — only to think of a witty comeback hours later. “I should have said…” The French even have a word for it — esprit de l’escalier, literally “the wit of the staircase” (it’s a perfect metaphor: you think of a snappy comeback after you have reached the bottom of the stairs). Better late, than never, right? However, some people who possess a razor-sharp wit can deliver a stinging comeback right on the spot — at the top of the metaphorical stairs! — leaving the offensive person speechless. Touché! Here are some of the wittiest comebacks of all time:

Lady Astor: “Winston, if you were my husband, I would put poison in your coffee.”
Winston Churchill: “Nancy, if you were my wife, I would drink it.”

Claire Booth Luce running into Parker: “Age before beauty!”
Dorothy Parker: “Pearls before swine!”

Member of Parliament: “Mr. Churchill, must you fall asleep while I’m speaking?”
Winston Churchill: “No, it’s purely voluntary.”

Elizabeth Braddock: “Winston, you are drunk!”
Winston Churchill: “You’re right, Bessie. And you’re ugly. But tomorrow morning, I’ll be sober and you will still be ugly.”

Drunk man: “I can’t bear fools!”
Dorothy Parker: Apparently your mother could.”

Actress: “I enjoyed reading your book. Who wrote it for you?”
Ilka Chase: “Darling, I’m so glad that you liked it. Who read it to you?”

George Bernard Shaw inviting Churchill to one of his plays: “Bring a friend, if you have one.”
Winston Churchill: “Please send tickets to the second performance, if there is one.”

4th Earl of Sandwich: “You, sir, will certainly die upon the gallows or of a social disease.”
Samuel Foote: “That depends, my Lord, upon whether I embrace your principles or your mistress.”

Member of the House, rubbing Longworth’s bald head: “Nice and smooth. Feels just like my wife’s bottom.”
Nicholas Longworth, Speaker of the House, after running his own hand over his head: “Indeed, it does!”

Read related posts: Top Ten Insults Using Archaic Words
Top Ten Literary Insults
There’s A Word for That: Espirit de l’escalier

For further reading: https://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/wittiest-comebacks-of-all-time?utm_term=.siRZAqo9jp#.oomrmpqRPQ
http://www.ishouldhavesaid.net/top-ten/
http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/01/26/gallows-pox/

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