37 Best Roasts In History, Because Roasting People Is A Timeless Art (2024)

37 Best Roasts In History, Because Roasting People Is A Timeless Art (1)

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If you ever thought casting shade on people was a product of the 21st century, and social media in particular, you might want to sit down for this. Roasting is actually a classic tradition, beautifully preserved and cataloged in the annals of what we could define as historic roasts. Forget our ancestors' stereotypical politeness and stiff upper lips — our past wasn't just made of wars, revolutions, and grand scientific discoveries. It was also peppered with some of the wittiest roasts of all time! Nothing less than verbal sword fights that left their targets speechless and the rest of the people present totally amused.

These delicate, or not so delicate, plays of words weren't even limited to an era or region. From ancient senators giving a piece of their minds to their rivals to modern-day stand-up comedians delivering epic comebacks on national television, this art has been celebrated universally by thinkers, politicians, and even royalty. Just ask Cicero, whose sharp tongue led to some of the Roman Empire's best roasts, or Winston Churchill, whose "poisoned coffee" joke became iconic. They really had a knack for throwing shade, and their words still echo through history books and social media memes as examples of famous roasts.

Are you eager to discover these humorous exchanges of the past? Excellent, because we've curated a list of the greatest, most iconic roasts in history for your reading pleasure. Not just the best insults in history, but cleverly crafted comments that have stood the test of time, a testament to this fabulous art — because roasting isn't just for Thanksgiving turkeys. Oh, and while you're enjoying this journey of historical snark and sass, remember: every roast tells a story. And these stories are waiting for your judgment. So, as you venture forth, don't forget to upvote the historical roasts that made you snort out loud!

This post may include affiliate links.

#1

"Shortly before World War I, the German Kaiser was the guest of the Swiss government to observe military maneuvers. The Kaiser asked a Swiss militiaman: 'You are 500,000 and you shoot well, but if we attack with 1,000,000 men what will you do?' The soldier replied: 'We will shoot twice and go home.'"

echisholm , survivalblog.com Report

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David H

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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017
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It was the swiss ambassador not a militiaman, and it was in Germany this incident, not while visiting the swiss. Even the quote is misquoted, only the sentiment is correct

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#2

"Someone asked Gandhi what he thought of Christianity. He said something like "I like your Christ. I wish your Christians were more like your Christ."'

Lolwhatisfire , goodreads.com Report

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David H

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He also said the Africans were racially inferior and needed European Colonizers to rule over them, condemned the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and said the Jews should not have resisted deportation to the death camps, etc. He said a lot of thing

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#3

37 Best Roasts In History, Because Roasting People Is A Timeless Art (6) "I don't know if it can be considered a roast, but I always enjoyed the story of President Coolidge at a dinner party. Coolidge was known to be a man of few words and so the woman next to him informed him that she had bet someone she could get more than two words out of him, to which he replied "You lose."'

reddit.com , en.wikipedia.org Report

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Tucker Cahooter

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There's also the story that when Dorothy Parker (a well known wit of her day) was told that Coolidge was dead she responded "How could they tell?"

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#4

"The count of Innsbruck (Germany) told the french pirate Dugay-Trouin "You fight for gold when we fight for glory", to what Dugay-Trouin replied "Yes sir, we all fight for what we lack.'"

because_monstah Report

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Frans Lancee

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The counts of Innsbruck ? (Germany) ?First off all Insbruck is the capital of Tyrol in Austria.Mayby you mean the counts of Andechs. ( google it )

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#5

"When a couple of Frenchmen turned away from the Duke of Wellington at a diplomatic event, a woman apologized to him for their behavior. He responded by saying "I have seen their backs before, madam."'

-Crux- , wellsoc.org Report

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#6

"Winston Churchill to Lady Astor or Bessie Braddock: "I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly."'

spoobles , winstonchurchill.org Report

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darqemm

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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017
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I mean....he's not exactly handsome....

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#7

"After invading southern Greece and receiving the submission of other key city-states, Philip II of Macedon sent a message to Sparta: "If I invade Laconia you will be destroyed, never to rise again."

The Spartan ephors replied with a single word: "If".

Subsequently, neither Philip nor his son Alexander the Great attempted to capture the city. Philip is also recorded as approaching Sparta on another occasion and asking whether he should come as friend or foe; the reply was "Neither"."

LifeWin , orionphilosophy.com Report

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Saint Tim the Godless

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Observation: just because you put a "Molon labe" sticker on your truck (meaning "come and take them") doesn't make you a Spartan. The Spartans didn't recruit degenerates; they left them on hillsides.

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#8

The-big-ouch said:
"A pirate known as jean lefitte had a bounty of $500 put on him by a governor. So he put a $5000 bounty on the governor."

OutOrNout replied:
"No u."

The-big-ouch Report

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Lil Miss Hobbit

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There's a fantastic movie about Lefitte called The Buccaneer (1958) staring Yul Brynner that hardly anyone knows about.

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#9

"In the 1970s the small town of Vulcan, West Virginia asked for state funding to replace a bridge into town. The state legislature refused to grant Vulcan the funding they needed. Instead the town appealed to the Soviet Union for aid. After hearing about the request, the state legislature immediately granted over $1 million for the town to build a new bridge.

If a small town in WV asking for soviet funding in the middle of the Cold War isn’t a big middle finger to the state government, then I don’t know what is."

NuggetBiscuits69 Report

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SeaLouse

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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017
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Imagine the roast if the Soviets decided to pay for it!

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#10

Xanderab said:
"Alexander the Great found the philosopher (Diogenes) looking attentively at a pile of human bones. Diogenes explained, "I am searching for the bones of your father but cannot distinguish them from those of a slave."

Good_old_Marshmallow replied:
"When Alexander first found him he offered the man anything to become his teacher. His request was that Alexander move a bit to the left to give him more shade.

Atleast that's the story I read."

Xanderab , en.wikipedia.org Report

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RamiRudolph

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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017
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For the second one, I heard that he asked Alexander to move because he was blocking the sun.

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#11

37 Best Roasts In History, Because Roasting People Is A Timeless Art (22) "Paratroopers in World War Two during the battle of the Bulge were asked to surrender. "Surrender you're surrounded" Their reply "We're paratroopers were SUPPOSED to be surrounded!"'

Swollwonder , imdb.com Report

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David H

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Actually what General Gavin said as his reply to the surrender request was "Nuts"

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#12

Rag_H_Neqaj said:
"The officer who said "Nuts!" to the germans asking him to surrender during WW2."

CarpeCyprinidae replied:
"Bastogne, General McAuliffe. Patton: "A man that eloquent must be saved" - and he did..."

BEEF_WIENERS also replied:
"General McAuliffe and all of the men who were, as the story goes, trapped behind enemy lines, all maintained in their after action reports and in subsequent interviews that no, they did not need to be saved, they were not trapped, they were fine.

By the way, they were from the 101st Airborne, Easy Company. That part's in Band of Brothers, and every episode has interviews with actual members of Easy Company in it, and in that one - yes, they categorically deny that they needed rescuing."

Rag_H_Neqaj , archivesfoundation.org Report

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Jude Corrigan

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They have us surrounded,poor b@stards!

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#13

"Benjamin Disraeli and a lord of sandwich, not sure which one:

"I do not know whether you shall die on the gallows or of the pox."

"That depends whether I embrace your morals or your mistress."'

alphanumericsprawl , quoteinvestigator.com Report

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sofacushionfort

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Said by Samuel Foot to the Earl of Sandwich.

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#14

"Stalin was angry at Tito, the ruler of Yugoslavia, because Tito refused to join the Warsaw pact. In retaliation, Stalin sent a number of Soviet assassins to try to kill Tito, all of which were unsuccessful.

In a letter to Stalin, Tito wrote this:

"Stop sending people to kill me. We've already captured five of them... If you don't stop sending killers, I'll send a very fast working one to Moscow. And I certainly won't have to send another."

Josip Broz Tito? More like Josip Brass Balls Tito."

sd51223 , goodreads.com Report

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#15

"A reporter once asked Mahatma Gandhi, "What do you think of western civilization?" He replies, "I think it would be a good idea."'

exhibit_Z , nytimes.com Report

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Nikki Sevven

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Matthew 7:3-5, dude.

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#16

"Prince of Wales: "I've spent enough on you to build a battleship!"

Lillie Langtry: "And you've spent enough in me to float one."'

marzblaqk , 19thcenturyphotos.com Report

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#17

37 Best Roasts In History, Because Roasting People Is A Timeless Art (33) "Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire asked the Zaporozhian Cossacks (basically part of the Ukraine) to submit to him voluntarily after they beat his army in combat. Instead they wrote him a letter including such delightful turns of phrase as "What the devil kind of knight are you, that can't slay a hedgehog with your naked arse?" and "the devil s**ts, and your army eats."'

panascope , en.wikipedia.org Report

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Powerful Katrinka

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"Now go away, or I will taunt you again!"

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#18

"Letter sent by the Cleveland Browns to one of their season ticket holders.

Dude complained about paper airplanes and sent a letter into the Browns. They responded with "I feel you should be aware some a**hole is signing your name to stupid letters."'

AgoraiosBum , businessinsider.com Report

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Libstak

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Oh burn, I really want a chance to use this

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#19

"Christopher Hitchens;

"If you gave [Jerry] Falwell an enema he could be buried in a matchbox."'

Chris935 , Give Them An Argument w/Ben Burgis Report

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sofacushionfort

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Hitchens read a lot, and so he stole a lot.

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#20

I-Do-Doodles said:
"During the elections of 1800, Thomas Jefferson hired a newspaper editor named James Calendar to write and publish the mist vile things about his opponent, John Adams, including "Adams had a hideous, hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman."'

El_G0rdo replied:
"To which Adams retaliated by telling all the newspapers to run stories saying that Jefferson had died."

I-Do-Doodles , monticello.org Report

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David H

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He also had Hamilton called "the halfbreed creole bastard son of a scotch peddler raised on hoe cakes

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#21

37 Best Roasts In History, Because Roasting People Is A Timeless Art (42) ImSomebodyNow said:
"Stephen Colbert's roast of President Bush at the Correspondent's dinner. It was savage."

Normanbombardini replied:
"I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq."

ImSomebodyNow , CNN Report

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Con O Cuinn

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What has happened to him is a tragedy. He used to be on the cutting edge of comedy, now his shows are no better than James Corden

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#22

37 Best Roasts In History, Because Roasting People Is A Timeless Art (45) "Mozart was looking at a counterpoint written by Thomas Attwood. He got so angry at how wrong it was that he scribbled out the notes and wrote "you are an a**" in the margins of the paper."

PM_ME_UR_GALLADE , theneweuropean.co.uk Report

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#23

"Finns calling petrol bottles as Molotov co*cktails after Molotov said the bombers over Finland dropped breadbaskets (in reality bombs) so Finns named a drink to "go down with the bread."

reddit.com Report

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Admiral Graf Spee he/him

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i love this i read it in a book about the 1 thousand year history of russia

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#24

"Bill Burr vs. Philadelphia

For context, the people at this event were all drunk and booing off the previous comics. Bill wasn't having any of that, and begins roasting his entire audience to the point where he gets a standing ovation."

BrewsterC , pinvj Report

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Con O Cuinn

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Favourite bit was slamming Philly for building a statue to Rocky, when Joe Frazier actually came from there.

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#25

"In Plato's Republic, Socrates, Thrasymachus, and a few other people are discussing what justice is. After everyone answers, Socrates argues against them and explains why their definition of justice is flawed. But he doesn't put forth his own definition at first (he actually spends the majority of the rest of the book defining it through a system of government, but that's not important).

Eventually, Thrasymachus notices this and gets angry. So (paraphrasing here) he says something like:

Socrates is playing his usual trick: not answering the question himself, but instead waiting for someone else to answer it, and then taking what he says and trying to prove it wrong.

It was pretty hilarious when I first read it."

chowder138 , philosophy.fullerton.edu Report

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Annik Perrot

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And at that time, the losing candidate got to be vice-président. Fun times...

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#26

"One time while Bach was auditioning for the position of organist at a church, he sat while another musician attempted to play the organ. He performed so poorly that Bach, enraged, tore off his wig and threw it at the keyboardist, claiming that he should become a cobbler instead.

Another time, after his acceptance to Leipzig as cantor, the church council was reviewing their choice. Telemann had recently left the position, and according to them he was the best of the best. However on their reasoning of choosing Bach, they said, "Since the best has left us and we cannot find someone of equal talent, the second best had to be chosen instead." Yikes."

reddit.com , early-music.com Report

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#27

"Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

throwmeawaaey , CBS News Report

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Tucker Cahooter

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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017
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This was during the vice presidential debate between Lloyd Bentsen and Dan Quayle and in this case the followup "and everyone clapped" is actually true

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#28

37 Best Roasts In History, Because Roasting People Is A Timeless Art (56) "Cicero's "Phillipics" raging against Marc Antony.

It's one thing to speak ill of someone. But when you couch it in flowery language, then proceed to insult him in every possible way, then cheer on his enemies and gloat during his defeats, and maintain the roast for six solid months? Well, that's an epic roast.

ObAddendum: Antony allied with Octavian and among his first orders of business was to execute Cicero and nail his hands to the Senate door, so perhaps the "burn" wasn't a great idea."

CitizenTed , en.wikipedia.org Report

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StretcherBearer

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That'll keep him from writing sick burns

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#29

"This is more petty, but when Taft bragged to his friends via telegram about scaling a mountain on horseback, that it was a few thousand feet, clear weather, all in all not too difficult, his friend replied, "HOW IS HORSE?"'

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Far Cough Khan

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horse kapoot!

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#30

"Napoleon invited his brother in law to speak with him before his coronation as emperor to remind the brother in law that he objected to Napoleon marrying Josephine because Napoleon would "amount to nothing"."

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#31

37 Best Roasts In History, Because Roasting People Is A Timeless Art (66) idelta777 said:
"That's why you use auto-tune and I don't."

Illier1 replied:
"Simon's face after he said that was gold."

idelta777 , X Factor Report

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Apatheist Account2

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I think we need some more detail - such as who this is.

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#32

"1950 Florida Senate Democratic primary was extremely bitter race between George Smathers and incumbent Claude Pepper. George Smathers and Claude Pepper were friends but broke politically over whether to support Truman. It got so bitter that at one point, Smathers hired a Claude Pepper look a like to go around in a big limo and be an a***ole to everyone he met. Basically, the Pepper clone would ride into some bad town, act like an a***ole who hated America and loved Russia, make fun of the town for being poor, and insinuate that he'd rather be eating Russian caviar at some Washington DC party than be hanging out with white trash yokels, and then ride out again before the media got there. Smathers ended up winning in a rout."

toml3030 , en.wikipedia.org/ Report

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sofacushionfort

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Smathers spread the libel-proof information that Pepper’s sister was a “thespian,” and that Pepper had “matriculated” while a schoolboy.

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#33

"The construction and use of the warwolf, supposedly the largest trebuchet ever built. When it was disassembled it would fill up 30 wagons. So anyways, King Edward the first built this to siege a Scottish castle. But before it was even built the Scottish people tried to surrender. To which Edward responded with a prompt no(in actuality he responded with “You do not deserve any grace, but must surrender to my will” In other words, I built this trebuchet over 40 days and I am most definitely going to use it) and proceeded to use the trebuchet anyways."

razartech Report

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#34

"The second defenestration of Prague. The Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia sends representatives to the Protestant city of Prague telling them to convert to Catholicism. The representatives get thrown out a window and allegedly landed in a pile of manure."

Korlac11 Report

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StretcherBearer

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1 year ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017
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I love that there's a name to the event. Chucking someone out the window sounds a lot less like an event. And it's the Second defenestration so there's that

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#35

"In the middle 1800s, a South African Xhosa woman, Nongqawuse, prophacised that her tribe would receive divine powers if they obeyed the spirits of her ancestors by killing all of their cattle and destroying their crops. After realising that they had destroyed their food source, around 78 000 Xhosa tribe members starved due to the resulting famine."

ezra-jack , en.wikipedia.org Report

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Luke T

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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017
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How....how is this a roast??

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#36

"England pulling the "virtual representation" in the 1760s."

xtwibute , en.wikipedia.org Report

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readingthequibbler

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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017
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virtual representation is the political concept that elected members of a representative body do not represent individuals or a geographic region but represent the entire country or empire

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37 Best Roasts In History, Because Roasting People Is A Timeless Art (78)

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I’m a visual editor for Bored Panda, trying to find and select high-quality images to enhance articles across different formats. With a keen eye for detail, my goal is to ensure that each picture helps to attract readers into captivating visual experiences. As a freelancer, I’m also working as a video editor for a YouTube channel that makes music games. After work, I like to play with guitar, go to karate classes or just relax at home at play video games.

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37 Best Roasts In History, Because Roasting People Is A Timeless Art (79)

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I’m a visual editor for Bored Panda, trying to find and select high-quality images to enhance articles across different formats. With a keen eye for detail, my goal is to ensure that each picture helps to attract readers into captivating visual experiences. As a freelancer, I’m also working as a video editor for a YouTube channel that makes music games. After work, I like to play with guitar, go to karate classes or just relax at home at play video games.

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Writer on a quest to explore every corner of the world, one country at a time. Fueled by my love for Arcane, oversized hoodies, and weightlifting, I try my best to bring even more fun energy to Bored Panda. My cup of tea? Pop culture, funny content, sharing interesting facts about the world, and creating listicles for fellow Pandas. When I’m not crafting articles, my eyes are still glued to a screen — be it binge-watching my favorite shows, leveling up in video games, or learning Spanish with Duolingo. Always on the hunt for the ultimate playlist, I scour Deezer to find the right tunes to listen to while working on my creative projects.

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Der Kommissar

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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017
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By Max Reger, German composer in regards to a bad review he has received;" I am sitting in the smallest room in my house. I have your review before me, in a moment, it shall be behind me. "

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Der Kommissar

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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017
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By Max Reger, German composer in regards to a bad review he has received;" I am sitting in the smallest room in my house. I have your review before me, in a moment, it shall be behind me. "

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