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Samuel Johnson's Insults

The eighteenth century was a golden age of insults, with Swift, Pope and Voltaire providing much of the lucre. When it came to verbal goring, though, Samuel Johnson's lance was among the sharpest. He adored a good sparring and reveled in giving much better than he got.

Take Our Insults Quiz
Among the 300+ insults defined as only Johnson could - and culled from his famous Dictionary - are the ones below. See if you can guess their meanings.
Just roll your mouse over the buttons to reveal Johnson's definitions.

If you're drawn to superior snubs like these, we offer these zingers and
four more in magnetic form, to wear or to post. Definitions are included.

Need A Witty Riposte? Try a Johnsonian One
Johnson on Milton's Paradise Lost:
"None ever wished it longer."
On the writer Oliver Goldsmith (a friend):
"He seldom comes where he is not more ignorant than any one else."
On the overly garrulous:
"Do not be like the spider, man; and spin conversation thus incessantly."
On too many questions from his faithful companion, Boswell, who told Johnson he only asked them because Johnson was so good at answering:
"Sir, my being so good is no reason why you should be so ill."
On Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels:
"When once you have thought of big men and little men, it is very easy to do all the rest."

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Excerpted from Samuel Johnson's Insults, edited by Jack Lynch.
A Levenger Press/Walker & Company book, registered under U.S. copyright.

Also by Levenger Press