Quotations by Moliere


It infuriates me to be wrong when I know I’m right.

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 24-Aug-15
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It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do.

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
(Attributed)

Alt. trans.: "It is not what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 24-Aug-15
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A learned fool is more foolish than an ignorant one.

[Un sot savant est sot plus qu’un sot ignorant.]

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
The Learned Ladies [Les Femmes Savantes], Act 4, sc. 3, l. 1296 [Clitandre] (1672)
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "The learned fool is a far greater fool than the fool of ignorance." [tr. Wormeley (1895), The Female Pedants]
  • "A learned fool is more foolish than an ignorant one." [tr. Van Laun, The Learned Ladies]
  • "A learned fool is more of a fool than an ignorant one." [tr. Wall (1879), The Learned Women]
Added on 19-Jun-20 | Last updated 19-Jun-20
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An easygoing vice, I hold,
Is better than an angry virtue.

[J’aime mieux un vice commode,
Qu’une fatigante vertu.]

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
Amphitryon, Act 1, sc. 4, l. 681-2 [Mercury] (1666) [tr. Wilbur (2010)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "I prefer an accommodating vice / To an obstinate virtue."
  • "I prefer a convenient vice, to a fatiguing virtune." [tr. Waller (1903)]
  • Original French.
Added on 5-Jun-20 | Last updated 5-Jun-20
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New-born desires, after all, have inexplicable charms, and all the pleasure of love is in variety.

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
Dom Juan, I.ii (1665)
Added on 25-Feb-08 | Last updated 25-Feb-08
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ALCESTE: Doubts are more cruel than the worst of truths.

[Les doutes sont fâcheux plus que toute autre chose.]

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
Le Misanthrope, Act 3, sc. 5, l. 1122 (1666) [tr. Wormeley]

Alt. trans.: "Doubts are more torturing than any truth." [tr. Page]
Added on 8-May-20 | Last updated 8-May-20
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PHILINTE: A gentleman may be respected still,
Whether he writes a sonnet well or ill.
That I dislike his verse should not offend him;
In all that touches honor, I commend him;
He’s noble, brave, and virtuous — but I fear
He can’t in truth be called a sonneteer.”

On peut être honnête homme, et faire mal des vers,
Ce n’est point à l’honneur que touchent ces matières,
Je le tiens galant homme en toutes les manières,
Homme de qualité, de mérite et de cœur,
Tout ce qu’il vous plaira, mais fort méchant auteur.

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
Le Misanthrope, Act 4, sc. 1, ll. 1144-48 (1666) [tr. Wilbur (1954)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "A man can be a gentleman and make bad verses. Such matters do not touch his honor, and I hold him to be a gallant man in every other way; a man of quality, of courage, deserving of anything you please, but -- a bad writer." [tr. Wormeley (1894)]
  • "A man may be / A perfect gentleman, and write poor verse. / These matters do not raise the point of honor. / I hold him a true man in all respects, / Brave, worthy, noble, anything you will, / But still, a wretched writer." [tr. Page (1913)]
  • "Anyone may be an honorable man, and yet write verse badly." [Bartlett]
Added on 15-May-20 | Last updated 15-May-20
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If everyone were clothed with integrity,
If every heart were just, frank, kindly,
The other virtues would be well-nigh useless,
Since their chief purpose is to make us bear with patience
The injustice of our fellows.

Si de probité tout était revêtu,
Si tous les cœurs était francs, justes et dociles,
La plupart des vertus nous seraient inutiles,
Puisqu’on en met l’usage à pouvoir sans ennui
Supporter dans nos droits l’injustice d’autrui.

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
Le Misanthrope, Act 5, sc. 1, l. 1564 (1666) [tr. Wormeley (1894)]
    (Source)

Original French.

Alt. trans. [Page (1913)]
If everything were clothed in probity,
If all men's hearts were open, just, gentle,
Most of our virtues would be wholly useless,
Since we employ them now, in cheerfully
Enduring wrong, with right on our side.
Added on 23-May-20 | Last updated 23-May-20
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The presence of people we like gives a marvelous relish to our pleasures.

[C’est un merveilleux assaisonnement aux plaisirs qu’on goûte que la présence des gens qu’on aime.]

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
Le Misanthrope, Act 5, sc. 4 (1666) [tr. Page (1913)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "It is a wonderful seasoning of all enjoyments to think of those we love." [tr. Wormeley (1894)]

Original French.
Added on 29-May-20 | Last updated 29-May-20
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DORINE: Those who have the greatest cause for guilt and shame
Are quickest to besmirch a neighbor’s name.

[Ceux de qui la conduite offre le plus à rire
Sont toujours sur autrui les premiers à médire.]

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
Tartuffe, Act 1, sc. 1 (1664) [tr. Wilbur (1963)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "They whose own conduct is the most ridiculous are always the first to slander others." [tr. Van Laun (1876)]
  • "Since they are always talked about, / They're sniffing other scandal out." [tr. Bolt (2002)]
  • "Those whose conduct gives room for talk / Are always the first to attack their neighbors." [Bartlett's]
Original French.
Added on 1-May-20 | Last updated 1-May-20
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There is no rampart that will hold out against malice.

[Contre la médisance il n’est point de rempart.]

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
Tartuffe, Act 1, sc. 1, l. 99 (1664)
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "Against backbiting there is no bulwark."
Added on 24-Apr-20 | Last updated 24-Apr-20
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To expose vices to the ridicule of all the world is a severe blow to them. Reprehensions are easily suffered, but not so ridicule. People do not mind being wicked; but they object to being made ridiculous.

[C’est une grande atteinte aux vices que de les exposer à la risée de tout le monde. On souffre aisément des répréhensions, mais on ne souffre point la raillerie. On veut bien être méchant, mais on ne veut point être ridicule.]

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
Tartuffe, Preface (1664) [tr. Van Laun (1876)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "To expose vices to everyone’s laughter is to deal them a mighty blow. People easily endure reproofs, but they cannot at all endure being made fun of. People have no objection to being considered wicked, but they are not willing to be considered ridiculous." [tr. Kerr]
Added on 17-Apr-20 | Last updated 17-Apr-20
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Ah, it’s a lovely thing to know a thing or two.

[Ah, la belle chose que de savoir quelque chose.]

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
The Bourgeois Gentleman [Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme], Act 2, sc. 4 [M. Jourdain] (1670)

Title also translated as The Middle-Class Gentleman, The Tradesman turned Gentleman, The Middle-Class Aristocrat or The Would-Be Noble.

It is unclear where this highly common translation is from. Most identifiable sources are much more prosaic.
  • "Ah! What a fine thing it is to know something!" [tr. Woolerey, Act 2, sc. 6; Jones; Page]
  • "Ah, how wonderful it is to know something!" [tr. Applebaum (1998)]
  • "How fine a thing it is but to know something!" [Source]
  • "It's so reassuring to know something." [tr. Bermel (1987)]
  • "Oh, what a beautiful thing it is to know something!" [tr. Pergolizzi (1999)]
  • "It's wonderful to know so many things!" [tr. Rippon (2001), Act 1, sc. 3]
  • Original French
Added on 12-Jun-20 | Last updated 12-Jun-20
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Life is so sweet! One can die but once, and it is for such a long time!

[Il est si doux de vivre: On ne meurt qu’une fois; et c’est pour si long-tems (longtemps)!]

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
The Love-Tiff [Le Dépit Amoureux], Act 5, sc. 4 (1656) [tr. Van Laun (1875)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "Life is so sweet! We die only once, and for such a long time!" [Lovers' Quarrels, tr. Wall (1879)]

Original French text.
Added on 27-Mar-20 | Last updated 30-Mar-20
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I always make the first Verse well, but I’m perplex’d about the rest.

[Je fais toujours bien le premier vers: mais j’ai peine à faire les autres.]

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
The Romantick Ladies [Les Précieuses Ridicules], Act 1, sc. 11 (1659)
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "I always make the first verse well, but I have trouble making the others."
Added on 3-Apr-20 | Last updated 3-Apr-20
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