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Ever had a heated online argument with a stranger, only to think of the perfect comeback three days later? Well, on the internet clock, a few days might as well be an eternity, and everyone’s already moved on.

But over on r/clevercomebacks, wasting time is unheard of. With over 2 million members, this subreddit is full of sharp retorts for any situation. At Bored Panda, we’re big fans. So we’ve rounded up the best comebacks they have to offer. Keep reading, you might just find the right response to silence that next awkward comment.

The feeling of disappointment when you don’t have a clever reply on the spot actually has a name—it’s called ‘l’esprit de l’escalier’, or ‘staircase wit’. This term was coined by the 18th century French philosopher Denis Diderot in his dramatic essay, Paradox of the Actor.

The phrase comes from an incident Diderot had over dinner. “A sensitive man, such as myself, overwhelmed by the argument leveled against him, becomes confused and doesn’t collect his thoughts until he’s at the bottom of the stairs,” the philosopher wrote.

There’s a reason why we sometimes freeze and struggle to respond when someone says something upsetting. Our body sees it as a social danger and goes into defense mode.

“When someone says something offensive or harmful that hurts us or hurts a member of a community that’s really important to us, our nervous system can get activated,” said psychologist Kerry McBroome for Time Magazine. “The parts of the brain that are responsible for coming up with clever or witty things to say are just not online—they’re nervous and sensing a threat.”

#3

Never Underestimate A Woman

Never Underestimate A Woman

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Kristy Marion
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1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Men, you can’t have babies. Sit down when *women’s* reproductive rights are discussed

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Of course, some folks are naturally good at throwing verbal punches and do so whenever they can. But if you need some pointers in that area, blogger and podcaster Myke Macapinlac has tips on how to be more quick-witted and funny.

According to him, one of the first things you should learn is how to stay present in the moment. “Catch yourself when you’re ruminating and remind yourself to slow down your breathing. By doing so, you’ll be able to relax your body and bring yourself back to your current situation,” he advises.



#5

Kid Has A Bright And Shocking Future In Front Of Him

Kid Has A Bright And Shocking Future In Front Of Him

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If you’re having a conversation, Myke suggests really focusing on what the other person is saying. “It’s much easier to come up with the right things to say when you’re actually listening,” he notes.

#8

They Don't Give A Damn

They Don't Give A Damn

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Kristy Marion
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I genuinely admire anyone that chooses to join the military to protect their country, however the idolising of Veterans in America never sits well with me. When you stir up patriotism, and putting civil servants on pedestals and paying such a low minimum wage that joining the armed forces is the only way out, yet shoe no care for returning and ex serviceman, except for give them 10% discounts everywhere and a “thank you for your service”, well, it seems to be like big business and corporations are involved somewhere,

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#9

Well Then Rip

Well Then Rip

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CultOfBambi
Community Member
3 days ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Jacket no longer required! That burn will keep her warm now.

Another key tip is to stop caring so much. Macapinlac points out, “Most individuals who struggle socially think that all eyes are on them. They’re so afraid of being judged by others that’s why they stifle their personality. To avoid embarrassing themselves, they just remain quiet.”

“Even if you say something silly, I can assure you that people would’ve forgotten about you by the time they get home”. By letting go of this fear, you’ll be more relaxed, which will help you make clever remarks faster.

#11

Keep Your Stick On The Ice

Keep Your Stick On The Ice

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Luke Branwen
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Reminds me of that old joke: "We asked people how they view lesbian relationships. The question had to be rephrased after majority of responders answered 'in high definition'."

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#12

Love This Guy

Love This Guy

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Libstak
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

How is a woman's body preference ANYTHING TO DO WITH WHAT MEN WANT. We have the right to body autonomy, that means we makes choices for our bodies for ourselves, we are not a potential appendage to a man in life, we have a life all our own.

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Sometimes it’s good to prepare in advance. “Get a piece of paper and take the time to reflect. Think of previous situations where you wanted to say something clever but you weren’t able to. And then, brainstorm some good comebacks that you could’ve said,” the blogger recommends.


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#14

Not Be A Baby Machine

Not Be A Baby Machine

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It’s also important to manage your emotions. When you’re calm and collected, you come across as more confident. Macapinlac encourages trying out meditation and journaling to be more mindful.

“[This] will allow you to control the way you think. You’ll be able to identify and reframe your limiting beliefs.
This will help you become less reactive, especially during stressful moments”.

#16

Please Wear A Mask And Stay Safe

Please Wear A Mask And Stay Safe

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james stevenson
Community Member
1 month ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

That's pretty much the best explanation of why we wore face masks I've ever seen.

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Don’t forget to take inspiration from others. “What better way to improve your sense of humor than by watching more comedy shows and stand-up routines,” Myke says. “Pay close attention to [the comedian’s] material. Notice the timing and delivery of the joke. When something amuses you, ask yourself why by taking a moment to analyze it”.

#19

Who Orders Small Coffee Anyway?

Who Orders Small Coffee Anyway?

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#20

Just Try Not Being Straight For Awhile

Just Try Not Being Straight For Awhile

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Lee
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I love this one. I will never ever understand why anyone would care if someone was gay, hetero, or anywhere in between or neither. Like why would you give a f**k about something like that at all?

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However, if you’re around someone you want to build a lasting relationship with, be considerate and don’t say things that could ruin someone’s day. “If you want to learn how to be witty and funny, always leave people better than before you met them.”

#23

Thank You Andy Wang!

Thank You Andy Wang!

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#24

It Was Social Distancing Haha

It Was Social Distancing Haha

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Lastly, be patient with yourself and make an effort to get out of your comfort zone. “The more you practice, the better you’ll be at bantering with people,” Myke concludes.

#25

Definitely Atheists That Do This

Definitely Atheists That Do This

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Lee
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I door knock to talk to people about embracing atheism all the time 🤣

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#26

I Understand Completely

I Understand Completely

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LakotaWolf (she/her)
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Burning people alive? Yep, that sounds exactly like organized religion to me! Leave people alone when they're not of your faith? Nope! Gotta convert them! Oh, wait, they're unwilling to be converted? Better kill them!

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#27

Whatever Your Weakness, There's A Hellion To Exploit It

Whatever Your Weakness, There's A Hellion To Exploit It

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So next time, we hope you have the confidence and quick wit to deliver that perfect comeback. Stay sharp!

#28

They Also Don't Come In Exciting Anime

They Also Don't Come In Exciting Anime

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Jack Burton
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

It could be cool if they do. Imagine hiking and then something jump from a tree branch yelling Squiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirel !!!

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#30

British Museum

British Museum

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Isabella
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1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

At least some of the non-British artefacts from British Musem were saved from destruction.

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#31

Idk If This Has Been Posted Before, But I Love His Little Smile

Idk If This Has Been Posted Before, But I Love His Little Smile

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#32

Look Before You Leap

Look Before You Leap

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Bouche and Audi and Shyla, Oh My!
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

God gave us brains so we could use them. If He didn't want us to learn how to prevent and cure disease, how to enhance the lives of the disabled, to fix what is broken, He wouldn't have given us brains!

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#33

I Hope This Hasn’t Been Done Before

I Hope This Hasn’t Been Done Before

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#34

Stealing The Rainbow

Stealing The Rainbow

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#36

Big Footprints To Fill

Big Footprints To Fill

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#37

Education Is Vitally Important, After All

Education Is Vitally Important, After All

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Lee
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

How f*****g selfish and dumb do you have to be that you think education shouldn't be funded so that everyone has access, not just rich a******s.

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#39

Why Would They Need To Am I Rite?

Why Would They Need To Am I Rite?

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Anya Beboop
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1 month ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I do to get groceries without a large crowd and lines.Also allergic to the sun.

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#40

People Really Live In Their Own Little Bubbles

People Really Live In Their Own Little Bubbles

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Boy-Ahn
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

So, now we are censoring even the euphemisms? M o f o is not OK? How about BS?

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#41

Comeback

Comeback

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Bernd Herbert
Community Member
1 month ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Imagine that person writing that respone and thinking:"There. Clown shoes. The perfect analogy! Let's see them coming back from that one!"

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#43

Comeback

Comeback

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Stardust she/her
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

The hymen can tear without sexual activity. Sometimes you’re not even born with it. The hymen isn’t like one of those freshness seals

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#44

Simple Math To Hard

Simple Math To Hard

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#45

Can Anyone Show Martha The Original Constitution ?

Can Anyone Show Martha The Original Constitution ?

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Jack Burton
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Why don"t they go full amish and live like old pioneers, these stupid just want the modern world with our way to see the world. How crazy.

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#47

Comeback

Comeback

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#51

Useless Trees

Useless Trees

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Jrog
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This is clearly a joke, the original post was from a novelty account.

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Note: this post originally had 91 images. It’s been shortened to the top 51 images based on user votes.