Insults and Insulting Quotes about England
Kaiser Wilhelm II on England
The German originates it, the French imitate it and the Englishman exploits it
I know why the sun never sets on the British Empire, God would never trust an Englishman in the dark
The way to endure summer in England is to have it framed and glazed in a comfortable room
Horace Walpole 1717-1797
A pirate spreading misery and ruin over the face of the ocean
An Englishman will burn his bed to catch a flea
The English are, I think the most obtuse and barbarous people in the world
Marie Henri Beyle
The English have no exaulted sentiments. They can all be bought.
Silence: A conversation with an Englishman
Goldwin Smith on Ottawa
What a pity it is that we have no amusements in England but vice and religion
To learn English you must begin by thrusting the jaw forward, almost clenching the teeth, and practically immbilizing the lips. In this way the English produce the series of unpleasant little mews of which their language consists.
Jose Ortega y Gasset
On a fine day the climate of England is looking up a chimney, on a foul day it is like looking down
An Englishman absolutely believes he can warm a room by building a grate fire at the end of it
London, dirty little pool of life
The ordinary Britisher imagines that God is an Englishman
The English instinctively admire any man who has no talent and is modest about it.
James Agate, British theatre critic, Ego, 1935-48
England will fight to the last American.
American saying, coined c.1917
Englishwomen's shoes look as if they had been made by someone who had often heard shoes described, but had never seen any.
In our English popular religion the common conception of a future state of bliss is that of ... a kind of perfected middle-class home, with labour ended, the table spread, goodness all around, the lost ones restored, hymnody incessant.
Matthew Arnold, British poet and critic, Literature and Dogma, 1873
In Germany democracy died by the headman's axe. In Britain it can be by pernicious anaemia.
Aneurin Bevan, British politician
England is a nation of shopkeepers.
The average cooking in the average hotel for the average Englishman explains to a large extent the English bleakness and taciturnity. Nobody can beam and warble while chewing pressed beef smeared with diabolical mustard. Nobody can exult aloud while ungluing from his teeth a quivering tapioca pudding.
Karel Capek, Czech writer
Thirty millions, mostly fools.
Thomas Carlyle, Scottish historian and essayist (attrib.) when asked what was the population of England
Which is what they call a 'watering place'; that is to say, a place to which East India plunderers, West Indian floggers, English tax-gorgers, together with gluttons, drunkards and debauchees of all descriptions, female as well as male, resort, at the suggestion of silently laughing quacks, in the hope of getting rid of the bodily consequences of their manifold sins and iniquities ... To places like this come all that is knavish and all that is foolish and all that is base; gamesters, pickpockets, and harlots; young wife-hunters in search of rich and ugly old women, and young husband-hunters in search of rich and wrinkled or half-rotten men, the former resolutely bent, be the means what they may, to give the latter heirs to their lands and tenements.
William Cobbett, British polemicist, author and agriculturist, on Cheltenham
English Law: where there are two alternatives: one intelligent, one stupid; one attractive, one vulgar; one noble, one ape-like; one serious and sincere, one undignified and false; one far-sighted, one short; everybody will invaribly choose the latter.
Cyril Connolly, British critic, Journal and Memoir, ed. D. Pryce-Jones, 1983
Sheep with a nasty side.
Cyril Connolly, quoted by Gavin Ewart in Quarto, 1980
The English think that incompetence is the same thing as sincerity.
Quentin Crisp, British writer, in the New York Times, 1977
England, the heart of a rabbit in the body of a lion, the jaws of a serpent, in an abode of popinjays.
Eustache Deschamps, French balladeer and satirist
Poltroons, cowards, skulkers and dastards.
Freedom of discussion is in England little else than the right to write or say anything which a jury of twelve shopkeepers think it expedient should be said or written.
A. V. Dicey, British historian, introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution, 1885
It pays in England to be a revolutionary and a bible-smacker most of one's life, and then come round.
Lord Alfred Douglas, British writer, 1938
This is an English oath.
Paralytic sycophants, effete betrayers of humanity, carrion-eating servile imitators, arch-cowards and collaborators, gang of women-murderers, degenerate rabble, parasitic traditionalists, playboy soldiers, conceited dandies.
East German Communist Party's approved terms of abuse in 1953 for East German speakers when describing Britain
It is an Englishman's privilege to grumble.
Gluttony is the sin of England.
An Englishman loves a lord.
All Englishmen talk as if they've got a bushel of plums stuck in their throats, and then after swallowing them get constipated from the pips.
W. C. Fields, US film star, quoted in D. Waliechinsky, The 20th Century, 1995
From England, neither fair wind, nor good war.
England: a good land and a bad people.
The English have one hundred religions, but only one sauce.
The depressing thing about an Englishman's traditional love of animals is the dishonesty thereof ... Get a barbed hook into the upper lip of a salmon, drag him endlessly around the water until he loses his strength, pull him to the bank, hit him on the head with a stone, and you may well become fisherman of the year. Shoot.the salmon and you'll never be asked again.
Clement Freud, British writer, Freud on Food, 1978
About one thing the Englishman has a particularly strict code. If a bird says Cluk bik bik bik bik and caw you may kill it, eat it or ask Fortnums to pickle it in Napoleon brandy with wild strawberries. If it says tweet it is a dear and precious friend and you'd better lay off it if you want to remain a member of Boodles.
Clement Freud, Freud on Food, 1978
A broad definition of crime in England is that it is any lower-class activity that is displeasing to the upper class.
David Frost and Anthony Jay, British television scriptwriters, To England with Love
'English fair play' is a fine expression. It justifies the bashing of the puny draper's assistant by the big hairy blacksmith, and this to the perfect satisfaction of both parties, if they are worthy the name of Englishman.
Joseph Furphy, Australian novelist, Such Is Life, 1903
Among three Italians will be found two clergymen; three Spaniards two braggarts; among three Germans two soldiers; among three Frenchmen, two chefs, and among three Englishmen two whoremongers.
The German originates it, the Frenchman imitates it, the Englishman exploits it.
It is related of an Englishman that he hanged himself to avoid the daily task of dressing and undressing.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German poet and playwright
The English never smash in a face. They merely refrain from asking it to dinner.
Margaret Halsey, US writer, With Malice Toward Some, 1938
The attitude of the English towards English history reminds one a good deal of the attitude of a Hollywood director towards love.
Margaret Halsey, With Malice Toward Some, 1938
It is only necessary to raise a bugbear before the English imagination in order to govern it at will. Whatever they hate or fear, they implicitly believe in, merely from the scope it gives to these passions.
William Hazlitt, British essayist, The Life of Napoleon Buonaparte, 1830
From every Englishman emanates a kind of gas, the deadly choke-damp of boredom.
Heinrich Heine, German poet
The devil take these people and their language! They take a dozen monosyllabic words in their jaws, chew them, crunch them and spit them out again, and call that speaking. Fortunately they are by nature fairly silent, and although they gaze at us open-mouthed, they spare us long conversations.
The people have no ear, either for rhythm or music, and their unnatural passion for pianoforte playing and singing is thus all the more repulsive. There is nothing on earth more terrible than English music, except English painting.
A demon took a monkey to wife — the result by the Grace of God was the English.
The only time England can use an Irishman is when he emigrates to America and votes for Free Trade.
England is the paradise of women, the purgatory of servants and the hell of horses.
Only Englishmen and dogs walk in the sun.
Pass a law to give every single whingeing bloody Pommie his fare home to England. Back to the smoke and the sun shining ten days a year and shit in the streets. Yer can have it.
Thomas Keneally, Australian writer, The Chant of Jimtnie Blacksmith, 1972
England has become a squalid, uncomfortable, ugly place ... an intolerant, racist, homophobic, narrow-minded, authoritarian, rat-hole run by vicious, suburban-minded, materialistic philistines.
Hanif Kureishi, British writer, 1988
[England is] like a prostitute who, having sold her body all her life, decides to quit and close her business, and then tells everybody she wants to be chaste and protect her flesh as if it were jade.
He Manzi, Chinese politician, in the Shanghai Liberation Daily
Curse the blasted, jelly-boned swines, the slimy, the belly-wriggling invertebrates, the miserable sodding rotters, the flaming sods, the snivelling, dribbling, palsied, pulseless lot that make up England. They've got white of egg in their veins, and their spunk is that watery it's a marvel they can breed. They can nothing but frogspawn the gibberers. Why, why, why, was I born an Englishman!
D. H. Lawrence, British novelist, after a publisher rejected his manuscript of Sons and Lovers, 1912
The English people on the whole are surely the nicest people in the world, and everybody makes everything so easy for everyone else, that there is almost nothing to resist at all.
D. H. Lawrence, 'Dull London', Evening News, 1928
I think that those who accuse the English of being cruel, envious, distrustful, vindictive and libertine, are wrong. It is true, they take pleasure in seeing gladiators fight, in seeing bulls torn to pieces by dogs, seeing cocks fight, and that in the carnivals they use batons against the cocks, but it is not out of cruelty so much as coarseness.
A. R. Le Sage, French writer, 1715
We know of no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality.
Thomas Babington Macaulay, British historian, in the Edinburgh Review, June 1831
England is, after all, the land where children were beaten, wives and babies bashed, football hooligans crunch, and Miss Whip and Miss Lash ply their trade as nowhere else in the western world. Despite our belief [that] we are a 'gentle' people we have, in reality, a cruel and callous streak in our sweet natures, reinforced by a decadent puritan strain which makes some of us believe that suffering, whether useful or not, is a fit scourge to the wanton soul.
Colin Maclnnes, British writer, in New Society, 1976
The English, who eat their meat red and bloody, show the savagery that goes with such food.
J. O. de la Mettrie, French philosopher
Continental people have a sex life; the English have hot-water bottles.
George Mikes, Hungarian writer, How To Be an Alien, 1946
A ready means of being cherished by the English is to adopt the simple expedient of living a long time. I have little doubt that if, say, Oscar Wilde had lived into his nineties, instead of dying in his forties, he would have been considered a benign, distinguished figure suitable to preside at a school prize-giving or to instruct and exhort scout masters at their jamborees. He might even have been knighted.
Malcolm Muggeridge, British journalist, in Esquire magazine, 1961
The people of England are never so happy as when you tell them they are ruined.
Arthur Murray, British writer, The Upholsterer, 1758
The English are the people of consummate cant.
Friedrich Nietzsche, German political philosopher, Twilight of the Idols, 1889
A nation of ants, morose, frigid, and still preserving the same dread of happiness and joy as in the days of John Knox.
Max O'Rell (Paul Blouet), French writer, 1883
To learn English you must begin by thrusting the jaw forward, almost clenching the teeth, and practically immobilizing the lips. In this way the English produce the series of unpleasant little mews of which their language consists.
Jose Ortega y Gasset, Spanish essayist and philosopher
FAY: The British police force used to be run by men of integrity. TRUSCOTT: That is a mistake which has been rectified.
Joe Orton, British playwright, Loot, 1966
A family with the wrong members in control - that, perhaps, is as near as one can come to describing England in a phrase.
George Orwell, British novelist and essayist, The Lion and the Unicorn, 1941
... where the Greeks had modesty, we have cant; where they had poetry, we have cant; where they had patriotism, we have cant; where they had anything that exalts, delights, or adorns humanity, we have nothing but cant, cant, cant.
Thomas Love Peacock, British writer, Crochet Castle, 1831
The English people fancy they are free; it is only during the election of Members of Parliament that they are so. As soon as these are elected the people are slaves ... In the brief moments of their liberation the abuse made of it fully deserves that it should be lost.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, French philosopher, The Social Contract, 1761
The English are ... perfidious and cunning, plotting the destruction of the lives of foreigners, so that even if they humbly bend the knee, they cannot be trusted.
Leo de Rozmital, Czech travel writer
Beware of a white Spaniard and a black Englishman.
The perfidious, savage, disdainful, stupid, slothful, inhospitable, stupid English.
Julius Caesar Scaliger, French physician and scholar
The Englishman is never content but when he is grumbling.
Lang beards heartless, painted hoods witless, gay coats graceless, mak' England thriftless.
England were but a fling
Save for the crooked stick and the grey-goose wing.
An Englishman does everything on principle: he fights you on patriotic principles; he robs you on business principles; he enslaves you on imperial principles.
George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright and critic, The Man of Destiny, 1898
Englishmen never will be slaves; they are free to do whatever the government and public opinion allow them.
George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, 1903
[The] English ... talk loud and seem to care little for other people. This is their characteristic, and a very brutal and barbarous distinction it is.
Sydney Smith, British clergyman, essayist and wit
It must be acknowledged that the English are the most disagreeable of all the nations of Europe, more surly and morose, with less disposition to please, to exert themselves for the good of society, to make small sacrifices, and to put themselves out of their way.
What a pity it is that we have no amusements in England but vice and religion.
The moment the very name of Ireland is mentioned, the English seem to bid adieu to common feeling, common prudence, and common sense, and to act with the barbarity of tyrants, and the fatuity of idiots.
I know why the sun never sets on the British Empire - God wouldn't trust an Englishman in the dark.
Duncan Spaeth, US writer, quoted in The Book of Insults by N. McPhee, 1978
The Englishman is a drunkard.
The English never know when they are beaten.
The High Dutch pilgrims, when they beg, do sing; the Frenchmen whine and cry; the Spaniards curse, swear and blaspheme; the Irish and English steal.
Do you speak English?
The English take their pleasures sadly, after the fashion of their country.
Maximilien de Bethune, Due de Sully, French minister
In all the four corners of the earth one of these three names is given to him who steals from his neighbour: brigand, robber or Englishman.
Les Tirades de I'Anglais, 1572
The English think soap is civilization.
Heinrich von Treitschke, German philosopher
British education is probably the best in the world, if you can survive it. If you can't there is nothing left for you but the diplomatic corps.
Peter Ustinov, British playwright, actor and wit, in Time & Tide magazine
London, black as crows and noisy as ducks, prudish with all the vices in evidence, everlastingly drunk, in spite of ridiculous laws about drunkenness, immense, though it is really basically only a collection of scandal-mongering boroughs, vying with each other, ugly and dull, without any monuments except interminable docks.
Paul Verlaine, French poet
The two sides of industry have traditionally always regarded each other in Britain with the greatest possible loathing, mistrust and contempt. They are both absolutely right.
Auberon Waugh, British journalist, in Private Eye, 1983
In England we have come to rely upon a comfortable time-lag of a century intervening between the perception that something ought to be done and a serious attempt to do it.
H. G. Wells, British writer, The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind, 1934
To disagree with three-fourths of the British public on all points is one of the first elements of sanity, one of the deepest consolations in all moments of spiritual doubt.
Oscar Wilde, Irish author, playwright and wit, lecture, 1882
In England it is enough for a man to try and produce any serious, beautiful work to lose all his rights as a citizen.
Oscar Wilde, lecture, 1882
Thinking is the most unhealthy thing in the world, and people die of it just as they die of any other disease. Fortunately, in England at any rate, thought is not catching.
Oscar Wilde, The Decay of Lying, 1889
The English public takes no interest in a work of art until it is told that the work in question is immoral.
The English have an extraordinary ability for flying into a great calm.
Alexander Woollcott, US writer and broadcaster