Top 10 greatest insults in literature

Gone With The Wind author Margaret Mitchell has been crowned the queen of the literary put-down in a new poll.

The writer, whose novel inspired the classic film starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, topped a poll which included famous wit Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, and William Shakespeare.

The line in question — Rhett Butler’s “My dear, I don’t give a damn” — which was altered in the film to the more famous “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”, picked up the most votes.

In second place in the top 10 of immortal insults is Lady Bracknell’s line, from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest: “To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

The top three is completed by the surreal snub from Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods where a tortoise called Om tells another character: “May your genitals sprout wings and fly away.”

The poll, which surveyed 2,000 adults, was commissioned by UKTV channel Drama and also featured lines from Agatha Christie and Ernest Hemingway.

The top 10 greatest put-downs in literature are:

1. “My dear, I don’t give a damn.” — Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell (character: Rhett Butler)

2. “To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune, Mr Worthing, to lose both looks like carelessness” — The Importance Of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde (character: Lady Bracknell)

3. “May your genitals sprout wings and fly away.” — Small Gods, Terry Pratchett (character: Om)

4. “If you will forgive me for being personal, I do not like your face.” — Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie (character: Hercule Poirot)

5. “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me.” — Pride And Prejudice, Jane Austen (character: Mr Darcy)

6. “You are the last man in the world I could ever be prevailed upon to marry.” — Pride And Prejudice, Jane Austen (character: Elizabeth Bennett)

7. “If looks could kill, you’d soon find out that yours couldn’t.” — After Claude, Iris Owens (character: Harriet)

8. “The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes.” — Coriolanus, William Shakespeare (character: Menenius)

9. “The simplicity of your character makes you exquisitely incomprehensible to me.” — The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde (character: Gwendolen)

10. “I misjudged you... You’re not a moron. You’re only a case of arrested development.” — The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway (character: Harvey Stone).


Kya deLongchamps wonders if we should surrender to the pagan prompting of mistletoe.Mistletoe is returning to its hemiparasitic life back in the woodland

Playing games will sneak in physical activity without them even realising.9 fun ways to get your kids to do more exercise

It all began with a Christmas special 30 years ago this month. Chris Wasser pays tribute to The Simpsons.The Simpsons is 30 years old - and it all began with a Christmas special

The bug causes vomiting and diarrhoea and can leave people feeling weak.Tips to help stop the spread of the dreaded norovirus

More From The Irish Examiner