Quotations about:
    insult


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But to give one’s advice to others, unasked, is, in effect, to declare that we are much wiser than those to whom we give it; and is a kind of reproaching them with their ignorance and inexperience.

[Il proferire il tuo consiglio non richiesto niuna altra cosa è che un dire di esser più savio di colui cui tu consigli, anzi un rimproverargli il suo poco sapere e la sua ignoranza.]

Giovanni della Casa
Giovanni della Casa (1503-1556) Florentine poet, author, diplomat, bishop
Galateo: Or, A Treatise on Politeness and Delicacy of Manners [Il Galateo overo de’ costumi], ch. 18 (1558) [tr. Graves (1774)]
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(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

To offer advise, unrequested: what is it els but to vaunt youre selfe wiser then he is, whom you do counsell : nay rather it is a plaine checke to him, for his Ignoraunce and folly.
[tr. Peterson (1576)]

To offer your advice unasked, is nothing else than to assert that you are wiser than he to whom you offer it.
[Source (1909)]

To offer your advice without having been asked is nothing else but a way of saying that you are wiser than the man to whom you are giving advice, and even a way of reprimanding him for his limited knowledge and his ignorance.
[tr. Eisenbichler/Bartlett (1986)]

 
Added on 7-Dec-22 | Last updated 7-Dec-22
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A tinker’s debt is always paid:
Once for any simple trade.
Twice for freely given aid.
Thrice for any insult made.

Patrick Rothfuss
Patrick Rothfuss (b. 1973) American author
The Name of the Wind, ch. 1 (2007)
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Added on 10-Nov-22 | Last updated 10-Nov-22
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I ne’er insulted the calamities
Of those who were unfortunate, because
I fear’d that I myself might also suffer.

[μή μοι προτείνων ἐλπίδ᾽ ἐξάγου δάκρυ. γένοιτο τἂν πόλλ’ ὧν δόκησις οὐκ ἔνι.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Andromeda [Ἀνδρομέδα], Frag. 130 (TGF) (412 BC) [tr. Wodhull (1809)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translation:

I never treated the troubles of the unfortunate insultingly,
through fear of suffering them myself.
[tr. Gibert (2004)]

 
Added on 23-Aug-22 | Last updated 23-Aug-22
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Practically speaking, the totalitarian ruler proceeds like a man who persistently insults another man until everybody knows that the latter is his enemy, so that he can, with some plausibility, go and kill him in self-defense.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
The Origins of Totalitarianism, Part 3, ch. 12 “Totalitarianism in Power,” sec. 1 (1951)
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Added on 5-Jul-22 | Last updated 5-Jul-22
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The usual devastating put-downs imply that a person is basically bad, rather than that he is a person who sometimes does bad things. Obviously, there is a vast difference between a “bad” person and a person who does something bad.

Hilary Hinton "Zig" Ziglar (1926-2012) American author, salesperson, motivational speaker
See You at the Top, Segment 2, ch. 2 “Causes of a Poor Self Image” (1974)
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Added on 20-Jun-22 | Last updated 20-Jun-22
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Politeness is a tacit agreement that people’s miserable defects, whether moral or intellectual, shall on either side be ignored and not made the subject of reproach; and since these defects are thus rendered somewhat less obtrusive, the result is mutually advantageous.

[Sie ist eine stillschweigende Übereinkunft, gegenseitig die moralisch und intellektuell elende Beschaffenheit von einander zu ignoriren und sie sich nicht vorzurücken; – wodurch diese, zu beiderseitigem Vorteil, etwas weniger leicht zutage kommt.]

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Parerga and Paralipomena, Vol. 1, “Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life [Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit],” “Counsels and Maxims [Paränesen und Maximen],” ch. C, § 36 (1851) [tr. Saunders (1890)]
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Source (German). Alternate translation:

Politeness is a tacit agreement that we shall mutually ignore and refrain from reproaching one another's miserable defects, both moral and intellectual. In this way, they do not so readily come to light, to the advantage of both sides.
[tr. Payne (1974)]

 
Added on 16-Jun-22 | Last updated 16-Jun-22
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Here lies the noble warrior that never blunted sword;
Here lies the noble courtier that never kept his word;
Here lies his excellency that governed all the state;
Here lies the L. of Leicester that all the world did hate.

Walter Raleigh
Walter Raleigh (c. 1552-1618) English statesman, soldier, writer, explorer
“Epitaph on the Earl of Leicester, died September 4, 1588”
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Added on 16-Mar-22 | Last updated 16-Mar-22
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I once met a man who had forgiven an injury. I hope some day to meet the man who has forgiven an insult.

Charles Buxton (1823-1871) English brewer, philanthropist, writer, politician
Notes of Thought, #458 (1873)
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I muse not that your Dog turds oft doth eat;
To a tongue that licks your lips, a turd’s sweet meat.

[Os et labra tibi lingit, Manneia, catellus:
Non miror, merdas si libet esse cani.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 83 (1.83) [tr. Davison (1608)]
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"On Manneia." (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

That thy Dog loves to lick thy Lips, th'art pleas'd;
He'll lick that too, of which thy Belly's eas'd;
And not to flatter, and the Truth to smother,
I do believe, he knows not one from t'other.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

On thy lov'd lips, the whelpling lambent hung.
No wonder if a dog can feed on dung.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 12, ep. 171]

Your lap-dog, Manneia, licks your mouth and lips:
I do not wonder at a dog liking to eat ordure.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Your face and lips, Manneia, your little dog licks;
I don't wonder that a dog likes to eat filth.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Your dog licks your mouth and you don't push him from it.
But what says the proverb -- "A dog and his vomit"?
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Your little dog licks you from head to foot
Am I surprised, Manneia?
Not a bit.
I’m not surprised that dogs like shit.
[tr. O'Connell (1987)]

Manneia, your lapdog licks his lips with his tongue.
It’s no surprise that a dog likes eating dung.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Dear Manneia:
Your lapdog’s licking your lips and chin:
no wonder with that shit-eating grin.
[tr. Juster (2016)]

Your little puppy licks your mouth and lips --
Manneia, I no longer find it strange
That dogs are tempted by the smell of turds.
[tr. Salemi]

 
Added on 25-Feb-22 | Last updated 25-Feb-22
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There were grammatical errors even in his silence.

[Nawet w jego milczeniu były błędy językowe.]

Stanislaw Lec (1909-1966) Polish aphorist, poet, satirist
Unkempt Thoughts [Myśli nieuczesane] (1957) [tr. Gałązka (1962)]
    (Source)

Alternate translation: "Even in his silence were grammatical errors."
 
Added on 1-Feb-22 | Last updated 1-Feb-22
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Thais smells even worse than a fuller’s old crock,
When, set in the street, it succumbs to a knock,
A he-goat when rutting, a lion’s foul breath,
A skin of a dog done by tanners to death,
A chicken gone rotten while still in the shell,
A jar filled with sauce that has not kept too well.
So wishing somehow to disguise this foul reek,
Whenever she comes to the baths in the week,
She’s covered with unguent and vinegared flour
And layers of powder at least three or four.
But spite of these dodges, and do what she will,
The fact is that Thais of Thais smells still.

[Tam male Thais olet, quam non fullonis avari
Testa vetus, media sed modo fracta via,
Non ab amore recens hircus, non ora leonis,
Non detracta cani transtiberina cutis,
5Pullus abortivo nec cum putrescit in ovo,
Amphora corrupto nec vitiata garo.
Virus ut hoc alio fallax permutet odore,
Deposita quotiens balnea veste petit,
Psilothro viret aut acida latet oblita creta
10Aut tegitur pingui terque quaterque faba.
Cum bene se tutam per fraudes mille putavit,
Omnia cum fecit, Thaida Thais olet.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 6, epigram 93 (6.93) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Worse than a fuller's tubb doth Thais stink,
Broke in the streets, and leaking through each chink;
Or lion's belch; or lustfull reeking goats;
Or skin of dogg that dead o' the' bankside floats;
Or half-hatch'd chicken from broke rotten eggs,
Or taynted jarrs of stinking mackrell dreggs.
This vile rank smell with perfumes to disguise,
Whene'er she's in the bath, she doth devise;
She's with pomatum smugg'd, or pain good store,
Or oyle of the bean-flow'r varnishe'd o'er and o'er:
A thousand wayes she tries to make all well;
In vayne, still Thais doth of Thais smell.
[Egerton Manuscript 2982 (16th C)]

Poor Thais so smells, as no ill-fated tray,
Of all-catching scourer, just broke in the way:
No love-leaving goat, and no lion's made maw;
No skin from a dog the Transtiberines draw:
No pullet abortive, that rots in the shell:
No cask, where the brine of anchovy did dwell.
Yet all her contagion, the sly would suppress,
Whene'er, at the bath, she deposits her dress.
She smugs in sweet lotion, or sculks in sour chalk;
In mail of fat bean-mean she wisely will calk.
Thus ev'ry art conjur'd, th' offensive to kill,
Alas! the poor Thais brethes poor Thais still.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 6, Part 3, ep. 28]

Thais smells worse than an old jar of a covetous fuller just broken in the middle of the street; worse than a goat after an amorous encounter; than the belch of a lion; than a hide torn from a dog on the banks of the Tiber; than chick rotting in an abortive egg; than a jar fetid with spoilt pickle. Cunningly wishing to exchange this disagreeable odour for some other, she, on laying aside her garments to enter the bath, makes herself green with a depilatory, or conceals herself beneath a daubing of chalk dissolved in acid, or covers herself with three or four layers of rich bean-unguent. When by a thousand artifices she thinks she has succeeded in making herself safe, Thais, after all, smells of Thais.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Thais smells worse even than a grasping fuller's long-used crock, and that, too, just smashed in the middle of the street; than a he-goat fresh from his amours; than the breath of a lion; than a hide dragged from a dog beyond Tiber; than a chicken when it rots in an abortive egg; than a two-eared jar poisoned by putrid fish-sauce. In order craftily to substitute for such a reek another odour, whenever she strips and enters the bath she is green with depilatory, or is hidden behind a plaster of chalk and vinegar, or is covered with three or four layers of sticky bean-flower. When she imagines that by a thousand dodges she is quite safe, Thais, do what she will, smells of Thais.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Thais smells worse than caustic oil,
Or corpses rotting in the soil,
Or rotten eggs, or rutting goats,
Or swill that's vomited by stoats.
To hide the odor, Thais drenches
Her body with distracting stenches.
But worse than ointments on her shelf,
The smell most dreadful is -- herself.
[tr. Wills (2007), 6.98]

 
Added on 10-Dec-21 | Last updated 10-Dec-21
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To ruminate upon evils, to make critical notes upon injuries, and be too acute in their apprehensions, is to add unto our own Tortures, to feather the Arrows of our Enemies, to lash our selves with the Scorpions of our Foes, and to resolve to sleep no more.

Thomas Browne (1605-1682) English physician and author
Christian Morals, Part 3, sec. 12 (1716)
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Added on 27-Oct-21 | Last updated 27-Oct-21
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Once, when a religionist denounced me in unmeasured terms, I sent him a card saying, “I am sure you believe that I will go to hell when I die, and that once there I will suffer all the pains and tortures the sadistic ingenuity of your deity can devise and that this torture will continue forever. Isn’t that enough for you? Do you have to call me bad names in addition?”

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
I, Asimov, ch. 73 “Letters” (1979)
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Added on 19-Aug-21 | Last updated 19-Aug-21
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On hearing that someone had reviled him, he said, “As long as I’m not in his presence, let him flog me as well.”

[ἀκούσας ὑπό τινος λοιδορεῖσθαι, “ἀπόντα με,” ἔφη, “καὶ μαστιγούτω.”]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Attributed in Diogenes Laërtius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers [Vitae Philosophorum], Book 5, sec. 11 [tr. Mensch (2018)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Having heard that he was abused by some one, he said, “He may beat me too, if he likes, in my absence.”
[tr. Yonge (1853), sec. 11]

On hearing that someone abused him, he rejoined, "He may even scourge me so it be in my absence."
[tr. Hicks (1925), sec. 18]

After he heard that he was mocked by someone, he said, “Let him insult me when I am absent.”
[tr. @sentantiq (2016)]

 
Added on 17-Aug-21 | Last updated 17-Aug-21
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As President of our country and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so.

Barack Obama (b. 1961) American politician, US President (2009-2017)
Speech, United Nations (25 Sep 2012)
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Added on 21-Apr-21 | Last updated 21-Apr-21
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Being a star has made it possible for me to get insulted in places where the average Negro could never hope to go and get insulted.

Sammy Davis, Jr. (1925-1990) American singer, dancer, actor, comedian
Yes I Can, Part 3, ch. 3 (1965)
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Added on 15-Oct-20 | Last updated 15-Oct-20
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Never does the human soul appear so strong as when it foregoes revenge, and dares to forgive an injury.

Edwin Hubbell Chapin (1814-1880) American clergyman
Living Words (1860)
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Added on 25-Sep-20 | Last updated 25-Sep-20
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Thou canst not joke an Enemy into a Friend; but thou may’st a Friend into an Enemy.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Apr 1739)
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A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally.

Oliver Herford (1863–1935) Anglo-American writer, artist and illustrator
(Attributed)

Widely attributed to Herford as early as 1915. Similar in construction to "A gentleman is a man who never gives offense unintentionally," "A gentleman is a person who never insults anyone unintentionally," etc., which go back to at least 1905, and in the late 1920s were attributed without citation to Oscar Wilde. See here for more discussion of the Wilde citation.

By possible coincidence, Herford was known at the time as the American Oscar Wilde.
 
Added on 2-Sep-20 | Last updated 2-Sep-20
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Lesbian: Any uppity woman, regardless of sexual preference. If they don’t call you a lesbian, you’re probably not accomplishing anything.

Marie Shear (1940-2017) American writer and feminist activist
“Media Watch: Celebrating Women’s Words,” New Directions for Women (May/Jun 1986)
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“Snowflake.” Yes, I’ve heard this word. I think sociopaths use it in an attempt to discredit the notion of empathy.

John Cleese (b. 1939) English comedian, actor, screenwriter, producer
Twitter (8 Jul 2018)
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Added on 12-Mar-20 | Last updated 12-Mar-20
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Sticks and stones are hard on bones
Aimed with angry art.
Words can sting like anything
But silence breaks the heart.

Phyllis McGinley (1905-1978) American author, poet
“A Choice of Weapons”
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Added on 11-Mar-20 | Last updated 11-Mar-20
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His imagination resembled the wings of an ostrich. It enabled him to run, though not to soar. When he attempted the highest flights, he became ridiculous; but, while he remained in a lower region, he outstripped all competitors.

Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859) English writer and politician
“John Dryden,” Edinburgh Review (Jan 1828)
    (Source)

Review of John Dryden, The Political Works of John Dryden (1826)
 
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And the man who is arrogant belittles his victim. For arrogance is doing and saying things which bring shame to the victim, not in order that something may come out of it for the doer other than the mere fact it happened, but so that he may get pleasure. […] The cause of the pleasure enjoyed by those who are arrogant is that they think that in doing ill they are themselves very much superior. That is why the young and the wealthy are arrogant. For they think that in being arrogant they are superior.

[καὶ ὁ ὑβρίζων δὲ ὀλιγωρεῖ: ἔστι γὰρ ὕβρις τὸ πράττειν καὶ λέγειν ἐφ᾽ οἷς αἰσχύνη ἔστι τῷ πάσχοντι, μὴ ἵνα τι γίγνηται αὑτῷ ἄλλο ἢ ὅ τι ἐγένετο, ἀλλ᾽ ὅπως ἡσθῇ […] αἴτιον δὲ τῆς ἡδονῆς τοῖς ὑβρίζουσιν, ὅτι οἴονται κακῶς δρῶντες αὐτοὶ ὑπερέχειν μᾶλλον (διὸ οἱ νέοι καὶ οἱ πλούσιοι ὑβρισταί: ὑπερέχειν γὰρ οἴονται ὑβρίζοντες)]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Rhetoric [Ῥητορική; Ars Rhetorica], Book 2, ch. 2, sec. 5ff (2.2.5-6) / 1378b.23-39 (350 BC) [tr. Lord]
    (Source)

Freese notes, "In Attic law ὕβρις (insulting, degrading treatment) was a more serious offence than αἰκία (bodily ill-treatment). It was the subject of a State criminal prosecution (γραφή), αἰκία of a private action (δίκη) for damages. The penalty was assessed in court, and might even be death."

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

The contumelious, too, commits slight -- for contumely is the infliction of injury and pain under such circumstances as cause shame to the sufferer, not that any good may accrue to himself (the agent) other than the act itself, but that he may be pleased. [...] The reason of pleasure accruing to the contumelious is, that they think themselves rendered far superior by thus acting injuriously. Whence the young and the rich are contumelious, for they think that to give affront shews their superiority.
[Source (1847)]

He, too, who acts contumeliously manifests slight; for contumely is the doing and saying of those things about which the person who is the subject of this treatment, has feelings of delicacy, not with a view that any thing should accrue to himself, other than what arises to him in the act, but in order that he may be gratified. [...] Now the cause of the pleasure felt by those who act contumeliously, is that, by injuring, they conceive themselves to be more decidedly superior: on which account young men and the rich are given to contumely, for in manifesting the contumely, they conceive themselves superior.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

The man who insults, again, slights; for insolence is to do and say things which shame the sufferer; not in order that anything may accrue to the insulter, or because anything has been done to him, but in order that he may have joy. [...] The source of pleasure to the insulters is this, -- they fancy that, by ill-treating the other people, they are showing the greater superiority. Hence young men and rich men are insolent; they fancy that, by insulting, they are superior.
[tr. Jebb (1873)]

Insolence is also a form of slighting, since it consists in doing and saying things that cause shame to the victim, not in order that anything may happen to yourself, or because anything has happened to yourself, but simply for the pleasure involved. [...] The cause of the pleasure thus enjoyed by the insolent man is that he thinks himself greatly superior to others when ill-treating them. That is why youths and rich men are insolent; they think themselves superior when they show insolence.
[tr. Roberts (1924)]

Similarly, he who insults another also slights him; for insult consists in causing injury or annoyance whereby the sufferer is disgraced, not to obtain any other advantage for oneself besides the performance of the act, but for one's own pleasure. [...] The cause of the pleasure felt by those who insult is the idea that, in ill-treating others, they are more fully showing superiority. That is why the young and the wealthy are given to insults; for they think that, in committing them, they are showing their superiority.
[tr. Freese (1926)]

And disparagement may be motivated by abusiveness, which is acting and speaking in such a way as to make your victim feel shame, not because you will gain from it, and not in response to anything that has happened to you, but just for the pleasure of it. [...] The reason why an abusive man feels pleasure is his belief that by treating others badly he increases his superiority to them. That is why youth and wealth make people abusive: they think that by insulting others they are establishing their superiority.
[tr. Waterfield (2018)]

And he who is insolent to someone also slights him, for insolence is doing and saying such things as are a source of shame to the person suffering them, not so that some other advantage may accrue to the insolent person or because something happened to him, but so that he may gain pleasure thereby. [...] And a cause of the pleasure the insolent feel is their supposing that, by inflicting harm, they themselves are to a greater degree superior. Hence the young and the wealthy are insolent, for they suppose that, by being insolent, they are superior.
[tr. Bartlett (2019)]

 
Added on 22-Jan-20 | Last updated 11-Jan-22
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No one can be as calculatedly rude as the British, which amazes Americans, who do not understand studied insult and can only offer abuse as a substitute.

Paul Gallico (1897-1976) American author, sports journalist
In the New York Times (14 Jan 1962)
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Added on 20-Sep-19 | Last updated 20-Sep-19
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He is a man of splendid abilities, but utterly corrupt. He shines and stinks like rotten mackerel by moonlight.

John Randolph of Roanoke (1773-1833) American politician, diplomat
(Attributed)

Comment on Edward Livingson, quoted in W. Cabell Bruce, John Randolph of Roanoke, Vol. 2 (1923). Sometimes incorrectly given as an attack on Henry Clay.
 
Added on 31-Jul-17 | Last updated 31-Jul-17
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She speaks poniards and every word stabs.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Much Ado About Nothing, Act 2, sc. 1, l. 244 [Benedick] (1598)
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“You ever fuck Susan here?” she said, her face almost touching mine.

“I’m impressed,” I said. “The question is intrusive, annoying, coarse, and voyeuristic. That’s quite a lot to get into a simple question.”

Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) American writer
Hush Money (1999)
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Added on 25-May-17 | Last updated 25-May-17
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Abuse is the weapon of the vulgar.

Samuel Griswold Goodrich (1793-1860) American author [pseud. Peter Parley]
(Attributed)

Quoted in Maturin M. Ballou, Edge-Tools of Speech (1886)
 
Added on 19-May-17 | Last updated 19-May-17
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I have found throughout my life that, if all else fails, the character of a man can be recognized by nothing so surely as by a jest which he takes badly.

Georg C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) German physicist, writer
Aphorisms, Notebook K, #46 (1793-96) [tr. Hollingdale (1990)]
    (Source)

Alternate translation: "A person reveals his character by nothing so clearly as the joke he resents."
 
Added on 9-May-17 | Last updated 7-Jul-21
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For to be civilized is to be incapable of giving unnecessary offense, it is to have some quality of consideration for all who cross our path.

Agnes Repplier (1855-1950) American writer
“A Question of Politeness,” Americans and Others (1912)
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Added on 24-Apr-17 | Last updated 24-Apr-17
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A sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.

Washington Irving (1783-1859) American author [pseud. for Geoffrey Crayon]
“Rip Van Winkle,” The Sketch Book (1820)
 
Added on 15-Feb-17 | Last updated 15-Feb-17
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The tongue is not steel, yet it cuts.

George Herbert (1593-1633) Welsh priest, orator, poet.
Jacula Prudentum (1651)
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Added on 8-Feb-17 | Last updated 8-Feb-17
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A soft Tongue may strike hard.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Oct 1744)
 
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A thick skin is a gift from God.

Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967) German politician
New York Times (30 Dec 1959)
 
Added on 26-Jul-16 | Last updated 26-Jul-16
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To persevere in one’s duty and be silent is the best answer to calumny.

George Washington (1732-1799) American military leader, Founding Father, US President (1789-1797)
Letter to William Livingston (7 Dec 1779)
 
Added on 11-Jul-16 | Last updated 11-Jul-16
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Neglected, calumny soon expires; show that you are hurt, and you give it the appearance of truth.

Tacitus (c.56-c.120) Roman historian, orator, politician [Publius or Gaius Cornelius Tacitus]
The Annals (AD 109)
 
Added on 20-Jun-16 | Last updated 20-Jun-16
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I never yet heard man or woman much abused, that I was not inclined to think the better of them; and to transfer any suspicion or dislike to the person who appeared to take delight in pointing out the defects of a fellow-creature.

Jane Porter (1776-1850) English historical novelist and dramatist
Aphorisms of Sir Philip Sidney, Vol. 2, “Falsehood, Treachery, and Slander,” #19, Remark (1807)
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Added on 6-Jun-16 | Last updated 6-Jun-16
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Every life is its own excuse for being, and to deny or refute the untrue things that are said of you is an error in judgment. All wrong recoils upon the doer, and the man who makes wrong statements about others is himself to be pitied, not the man he vilifies. It is better to be lied about than to lie. At the last no one can harm us but ourselves.

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American writer, businessman, philosopher
The Roycroft Dictionary and Book of Epigrams (1923)
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Added on 25-Apr-16 | Last updated 14-Sep-20
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Act uprightly, and despise Calumny; Dirt may stick to a Mud Wall, but not to polish’d Marble.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1757)
 
Added on 4-Apr-16 | Last updated 4-Apr-16
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Never complain and never explain.

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) English politician and author
(Attributed)

Regarding attacks on him in Parliament. Quoted in John Morley, Life of William Ewart Gladstone (1903).
 
Added on 28-Mar-16 | Last updated 28-Mar-16
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Calumny is only the noise of madmen.

Diogenes of Sinope (412 or 404-323BC) Greek Cynic philosopher
Quoted in Epictetus The Discourses, Book 1, ch. 24.
 
Added on 21-Mar-16 | Last updated 18-Mar-16
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No man can humiliate me or disturb me. I won’t let him.

Bernard Baruch (1870-1965) American businessman and statesman
(Attributed)

Quoted in Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (1948). When asked by Carnegie if he was troubled by his enemies' attacks.
 
Added on 7-Mar-16 | Last updated 7-Mar-16
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Calumny is like a wasp which harasses you. Raise no hand against it unless you’re sure of killing it, for otherwise it will return to the charge more furious than ever.

Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Maxims and Thoughts, #302 (1796)
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Alt. trans.: "Calumny is like the wasp which worries you, which it were best not to try to get rid of unless you are sure of slaying it; for otherwise it will return to the charge more furious than ever."
 
Added on 29-Feb-16 | Last updated 29-Feb-16
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To avoid dissensions we should ever be on our guard, more especially with those who drive us to argue with them, with those who vex and irritate us, and who say things likely to excite us to anger. When we find ourselves in company with quarrelsome, eccentric individuals, people who openly and unblushingly say the most shocking things, difficult to put up with, we should take refuge in silence, and the wisest plan is not to reply to people whose behavior is so preposterous.

Those who insult us and treat us contumeliously are anxious for a spiteful and sarcastic reply: the silence we then affect disheartens them, and they cannot avoid showing their vexation; they do all they can to provoke us and to elicit a reply, but the best way to baffle them is to say nothing, refuse to argue with them, and to leave them to chew the cud of their hasty anger. This method of bringing down their pride disarms them, and shows them plainly that we slight and despise them.

St. Ambrose (339-397) Roman prelate, Bishop of Milan [Aurelius Ambrosius]
De Officiis Ministrorum, ch. 5
 
Added on 22-Feb-16 | Last updated 22-Feb-16
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It really hurts me very much to suppose that I have wronged anybody on earth.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Quincy, Illinois (13 Oct 1858)
 
Added on 4-Jan-16 | Last updated 4-Jan-16
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There are two insults which no human being will endure: The assertion that he hasn’t a sense of humor, and the doubly impertinent assertion that he has never known trouble.

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) American novelist, playwright
Main Street (1920)
 
Added on 13-Oct-15 | Last updated 13-Oct-15
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If crisis management requires cold and even brutal measures to show determination, it also imposes the need to show the opponent a way out. Grandstanding is good for the ego but bad for foreign policy. […] Many wars have started because no line of retreat was left open.

Henry Kissinger (b. 1923) German-American diplomat
Years of Upheaval, ch. 12 (1982)
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Added on 22-Sep-15 | Last updated 22-Sep-15
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Unless you intend to kill him immediately thereafter, never kick a man in the balls. Not even symbolically. Or perhaps especially not symbolically.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Friday [Friday Jones] (1982)
 
Added on 22-Sep-15 | Last updated 22-Sep-15
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The most perilous moment is often when an adversary is seemingly prepared to retreat and then is jolted into new defiance by an assault on his self-esteem.

Henry Kissinger (b. 1923) German-American diplomat
Years of Upheaval, ch. 12 (1982)
 
Added on 15-Sep-15 | Last updated 15-Sep-15
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My pain may be the reason for somebody’s laugh, but my laugh must never be the reason for somebody’s pain.

Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) English comic actor, film director, composer
(Attributed)
 
Added on 5-Aug-15 | Last updated 5-Aug-15
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There are reproaches that compliment, and compliments that disparage.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], #148 (1665) [tr. Kronenberger (1959)]
 
Added on 17-Jun-15 | Last updated 17-Jun-15
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The penalty of success is to be bored by people who used to snub you.

Nancy Astor (1879-1964) American socialite and English politician [Nancy Witcher Langhorne; Viscountess Astor; Lady Astor]
In the Daily Express (12 Jan 1956)
 
Added on 21-Nov-14 | Last updated 21-Nov-14
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If the enemy is an ass and a fool and a prating
coxcomb, is it meet, think you, that we should also,
look you, be an ass and a fool and a prating
coxcomb, in your own conscience now?

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Henry V, Act 4, sc. 1, l. 80ff [Fluellen] (1599)
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Added on 26-Sep-14 | Last updated 27-Jun-22
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Just deeds are the best answer to injurious words.

John Milton (1608-1674) English poet
Observations upon the Articles of Peace with the Irish Rebels (1649)
 
Added on 17-Sep-14 | Last updated 17-Sep-14
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