Ten Great Bookish Insults to Hurl

A banner with the words The Top Ten Tuesday List on it for Ten Great Bookish InsultsI’m totally going off topic for this Top Ten Tuesday, and I hope you’ll all forgive me. See, I’ve been wanting to do this particular topic for a while and as my cohost is currently experiencing technical difficulties, I decided I would.

I don’t know about you, but I love reading a good insult in a book. Especially the ones that make you do a double-take. I think giving creative insults is almost a lost art. You need to practice and hone your ability until you can deliver them so smoothly that the recipient has to take a moment to realize exactly how bad s/he just got insulted. Now, I haven’t compiled a list of that level yet (I’m working on it), but I do have a few good ones to share with you today.

Could you imagine using any of the insults listed below? Have you ever? (There’s at least three on this list I’m going to use as soon as humanly possible.)

Feel free to link me up your favorite bookish insult in the comments! (You had to have heard it first from a book. I’m sure they’ve existed outside the pages, but only bookish-to-you insults count.)

As usual, Top Ten Tuesday’s weekly prompts are brought to you courtesy of Broke and Bookish.

Ten Great Bookish Insults


“I swear, talking to you is like talking to a really good-looking and mildly stupid brick wall.”
Derek Landy, Death Bringer

I don’t think this one needs any adaptation, do you?

“Roses are red, violets are blue, I have five fingers, the middle one is for you.”
Gena Showalter, The Queen of Zombie Hearts

This is just timeless. A hundred years from now, I could see someone saying it with a straight face. I’m definitely using this on someone tomorrow.

“You,” Madeline said, her voice hollow and wheezing, “are like a bad case of herpes, wizard. You’re inconvenient, embarassing, no real threat, and you simply will not go away.”
Jim Butcher, Turn Coat

Well, obviously if you were going to use this one, it’d need a little bit of tweaking. May I suggest “You’re a textbook case of herpes, sweetcheeks. You’re inconvenient, embarrassing, no real threat, and you simply will not go away.”

“I’d sneer and tell him he’s got the cerebral finesse of an amoeba and delight in his squint of confusion.”
Craig Silvey, Jasper Jones

Hmm, this one is pretty usable. But if I was going to casually drop it in  conversation, I’d probably alter it to “I’d tell you that you’ve got the cerebral finesse of an amoeba, but something tells me I’d have to explain what an amoeba is.”

“They don’t hardly make ’em like him any more – but just to be on the
safe side, he should be castrated anyway.”
Hunter S. Thompson, The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time

Well, unless you’re saying it to someone else right in front of the person you’re insulting, this isn’t going to work. But.. “They broke the mold when they made you, didn’t they? But just in case, you should get a vasectomy.”

“He would make a good lamp post if he’d weather better and didn’t have to eat.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano

Just casually say it to another occupant in the room as the person you’re wanting to insult comes in, and then walk out and see how far you get before you (hopefully) hear indignant yowls of outrage.

“Are you in great physical pain, or is that your thinking expression?”
G.A. Aiken, What a Dragon Should Know

This one is perfect as it. It just needs to be delivered slowly, with just the slightest hint of concern. And then, of course, you swiftly move on to another topic.

“You have a mind like the rings of Saturn. A million miles wide and an inch deep.”
Kim Stanley Robinson2312

have used this one, and I was pleased to see the expression of incomprehension slowly fade from that person’s eyes as the knowledge that they’d just been thoroughly insulted them sunk in. Then I might have ruined it all by cackling like a hyena, but nobody is perfect.

“You speak an infinite deal of nothing.”
William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

For one that’s so old, this insult is pretty timeless. I think it’d hold up well without any modernizing, but if you needed to make it your own, maybe… “I’m sorry, I was thinking about how people should really be fined for flagrant wasting of oxygen when they have nothing of worth to say.”

“The simplicity of your character makes you exquisitely incomprehensible to me.”
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

This one is perfect as is. Yes, the language is a bit old-fashioned, but it’s a gorgeous insult, especially if you deliver it sweetly.

Hope this list of bookish insults amused you! (But I have an odd sense of humor so I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t, heh.)


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7 Responses to Ten Great Bookish Insults to Hurl

  1. tpolen says:

    These are fantastic – I need to keep a list with me for reference!

  2. tiareleine says:

    These are great! I especially like the ones from Thompson and Vonnegut, but they’re all pretty brutal.

    Great list! 🙂

  3. If only I had better memorization skills… If I insult people, though, I’m generally either too mad to remember these lovely lines–or it’s an accident and I was trying to be funny.
    I have told someone “I bite my thumb at you,” though. They were confused. 🙂

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