Mental Floss

The 16 Sickest Burns of All Time

Ellen Gutoskey
Mariah Carey still doesn't know her.
Mariah Carey still doesn't know her. / Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Calvin Coolidge was a man of so few words and so little charisma—in public, at least—that people called him “Silent Cal.” When Dorothy Parker found out he’d just died, she reportedly said this: “How can they tell?” And she wasn’t even the only person to say it (or something to that effect).

History is teeming with pithy insults, snide asides, and mic-drop moments so sick you can’t help but respect their inventors—whether you feel sorry for their targets or not. On this episode of The List Show, Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy is covering some of the most legendary ones. You’ll hear how Virginia Woolf compared James Joyce’s Ulysses to pimples; the person Theodore Roosevelt dubbed a “human trombone”; and the full story behind Mariah Carey’s iconic “I don’t know her.”

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