Nick Briggs / Carnival Films for Masterpiece/PBS / Courtesy: Everett Collection
Erin Clements
December 28, 2013 12:10 PM

Maggie Smith turns 79 Saturday. And while the inimitable actress’s career spans six decades, she’s currently beloved for her meme-worthy one-liners as the caustic Lady Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, on Downton Abbey.

What better way to celebrate Smith’s birthday than with a look back at some of her funniest zingers? There’s sure to be plenty more to come when Downton Abbey‘s fourth season premieres on PBS Jan. 5.

On the middle class work week:

“What is a weekend?”

On Americans:

Violet: “I’m so looking forward to seeing your mother again. When I’m with her I’m reminded of the virtues of the English.”
Matthew: “Isn’t she American?”
Violet: “Exactly.”

On formality:

Isobel: “What should we call each other?”
Violet: “Well, we could always start with Mrs. Crawley and Lady Grantham.”

On swivel chairs:

“Why does every day involve a fight with an American?”

On the telephone:

“Is this an instrument of communication or torture?”

To nemesis Martha:

“I don’t even know what that means, but it sounds almost as peculiar as you look.”

To nemesis Isobel:

Isobel: “I take that as a compliment.”
Violet: “I must have said it wrong.”

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