Words have meanings. How many times have we heard that? Many times words convey love, friendship, authority, disappointment, praise…or more.
If you take any time at all to read the words of our founders, early purveyors of English literature or those with a great “turn of the word,” there’s a simplicity that makes the point directly with power and directness. There’s a powerful expression of depth – simple in it’s delivery, deep in its meaning.
When we speak we are trying to pass along information and emotion to others. Yes, sometimes we do it directly with emphasis and yet other times we are more subtle, with hidden, subdued, with a slight stab at our intended recipient.
These subtle and snarky pieces of wit are many times conveying a message that takes a bit of effort to fully spot…understand…enjoy. I trust you’ll enjoy these words from history.
A member of Parliament to Disraeli: “Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease.”
“That depends, Sir, ” said Disraeli, “whether I embrace your policies or your mistress.”
“He had delusions of adequacy .”
“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”
– Winston Churchill
“I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.”
“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”
-William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)
“Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it.”
“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”
“Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?”
“He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.”
“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.”
“I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one.”
-George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill
“Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second… if there is one.”
-Winston Churchill, in response
“I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here.”
“He is a self-made man and worships his creator.”
“I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial.”
-Irvin S. Cobb
“He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others.”
“He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.”
– Paul Keating
“In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily.”
-Charles Count Talleyrand
“He loves nature in spite of what it did to him.”
“His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.”
“He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts… for support rather than illumination.”
“He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.”
“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But I’m afraid this wasn’t it.”
In life and politics, there are times when a subtle expression can be more successful in carrying the message than words of hate. The question is whether or not the recipient will understand the jab and get the point.
Satire can be poignant, funny or both. Maybe this will spark your own verbal banters with humor and directness.