17 Clever Comebacks To Use When Someone Tries To Embarrass You

Being the target of someone’s embarrassing digs sucks. Whether it’s a bully, a rude coworker, or that family member who loves to call you out in front of everyone, those moments can leave you fuming. But a well-placed comeback can turn the tables faster than they can say, “just kidding.” Let’s arm you with some witty retorts to disarm those who thrive on putting others down. Think of it as verbal self-defense training!

1. Lean into the absurdity.

They call out your questionable hairstyle? You respond, “Thanks! I was channeling my inner 80s rock star, but then I remembered not everyone can pull off a mullet with such finesse.” Exaggerating their jab with humor deflects their attempt to wound and makes them look silly instead.

2. Play dumb.

Pretend to completely misunderstand their insult in a lighthearted way. “You think my shoes are ugly? Wow, I had no idea you were secretly a fashion expert! I always struggle putting outfits together…” Feigned cluelessness leaves them sputtering and forces them to either escalate to outright rudeness (revealing their bad character) or backpedal awkwardly.

3. Give a bored response.

Meet their meanness with an utterly unimpressed, “Is that all you’ve got?”, a raised eyebrow, or a slow, sarcastic clap. Nonchalance is kryptonite to someone craving a reaction. They want drama; you offer a shrug and a bored eye-roll, stealing their thunder.

4. Turn it into a compliment.

“You always notice the smallest details about me! You must really care…” This works best with backhanded compliments or passive-aggressive jabs. By highlighting their weird focus with sincerity, you expose their attempt to rattle you and subtly paint them as a little bit obsessive.

5. Genuine kindness disarms.

Sometimes, the best comeback is disarmingly sweet, per Psychology Today. “Ouch, that wasn’t very nice,” or, “I’m surprised to hear you say that,” said with genuine curiosity, not hurt, can catch them off guard. Kindness throws their cruelty into sharp contrast, and sometimes, subtly prompts them to self-reflect (though don’t always count on this!).

6. Call out the intent.

skeptical man looking at womaniStock/fizkes

Try something like, “Are you trying to embarrass me on purpose?” or, “Wow, aggressive way to start a conversation.” Naming their behavior directly forces them to own their nastiness instead of hiding behind weak “jokes.” This is good for those who habitually try to tear others down with a veneer of faux humor or concern.

7. Try the classic, “That’s Interesting…” observation.

Employer interviewing serious female job candidate for hiring. Client, consulting financial or legal advisor, lawyer, broker, banker. Customer meeting with manager. Business consultation concept

Turn the microscope on them! “That’s interesting you noticed my shirt… I’ve been more focused on the project deadline.” Briefly analyze their comment and then pivot right back to what actually matters. This highlights their pettiness and your laser focus on priorities.

8. Flip the script.

woman being blunt and overbearing

They mock your old car? “Yeah, she ain’t pretty, but she’s reliable, unlike some people.” Take their insult and playfully connect it to a subtle jab about their personality or behavior. This requires quick wit, but when you land it right, it’s incredibly satisfying.

9. Go for the “I’ll try to care…” sarcasm.

Conversation, argument and interracial couple in conflict in a park for communication about divorce. Angry, fight and black man and woman speaking about a relationship problem on a date in nature

Perfect for those dismissive comments designed to get a rise out of you. “My outfit is a disaster? Wow, I’ll try to remember to consult your fashion expertise before leaving the house next time.” Dripping sarcasm highlights their pettiness while subtly implying you value their opinion about as much as lint in your pocket.

10. Set a boundary with humor.

man and woman having serious conversation on couch

If someone repeatedly targets you, deflect further attacks with a standard comeback: “Well, here’s [name] with the daily negativity dose. Fascinating as always.” Repeat it verbatim each time. This blends light humor with boundary-setting, signaling you won’t engage with their nastiness.

11. “Well, bless your heart.”

Embrace the overly sweet Southern response, especially if a “concerned” older relative tries to undermine you. “You think my degree choice won’t get me a job? Well, bless your heart for worrying!” Exaggerated sincerity counters passive-aggression and makes them sound patronizing instead.

12. Go for the “Tell me more…” therapist tactic.

Force them to elaborate on their insult in a neutral tone: “You think I talk too much? Tell me more about that.” They either stumble to justify themselves, making them look foolish, or back down, realizing their comment sounds harsh when examined up close.

13. Pull the “Did I ask?” power move.

For unsolicited opinions or advice, shut them down with a pointed “Did I ask for your input?” Bonus points if you pair it with a mildly confused stare. It highlights their overstepping and reclaims your autonomy in the situation.

14. “Sounds like a you problem.”

If they’re whining, complaining, or generally being negative about something you actually like, hit ’em with this gem. It draws a clear line: their negativity is theirs to own, and you refuse to let their rain cloud dampen your day.

15. Walk away with sass.

Sometimes, silence is the best comeback. But it’s way more satisfying if you walk away, tossing a dismissive, “I have way better things to do with my time than listen to this” over your shoulder. You refuse to be their emotional punching bag and prioritize your valuable energy elsewhere.

16. Out-crazy the crazy.


This one’s risky, but satisfying if done right. They insult you in front of a group? Counter with an absurdly exaggerated agreement, piling on the self-deprecating humor until everyone, including you, is laughing. This steals their control of the narrative and only works if you deliver it with full playful commitment.

17. Own your weirdness.

Ultimately, the best defense against insults is unshakeable self-confidence. If they mock your quirky hobby, enthusiastically agree! “Yep, I DO love collecting vintage troll dolls, and my collection is glorious!” Enthusiasm for the supposedly “embarrassing” thing robs them of any power, leaving them sputtering.

Enjoy this piece? Give it a like and follow Bolde on MSN for more!

Sinitta Weston grew up in Edinburgh but moved to Sydney, Australia to for college and never came back. She works as a chemical engineer during the day and at night, she writes articles about love and relationships. She's her friends' go-to for dating advice (though she struggles to take the same advice herself). Her INFJ personality makes her extra sensitive to others' feelings and this allows her to help people through tough times with ease. Hopefully, her articles can do that for you.