- WIST is my personal collection of quotations, curated for thought, amusement, turn of phrase, historical significance, or sometimes just (often-unintentional) irony.
Please feel free to browse and borrow.
- 18,589 quotes and counting ...
Author CloudAdams, John • Aristotle • Bacon, Francis • Bible • Bierce, Ambrose • Billings, Josh • Butcher, Jim • Chesterfield (Lord) • Chesterton, Gilbert Keith • Churchill, Winston • Cicero, Marcus Tullius • Einstein, Albert • Eisenhower, Dwight David • Emerson, Ralph Waldo • Franklin, Benjamin • Fuller, Thomas (1654) • Gaiman, Neil • Galbraith, John Kenneth • Gandhi, Mohandas • Hazlitt, William • Heinlein, Robert A. • Hoffer, Eric • Huxley, Aldous • Ingersoll, Robert Green • Jefferson, Thomas • Johnson, Lyndon • Johnson, Samuel • Kennedy, John F. • King, Martin Luther • La Rochefoucauld, Francois • Lewis, C.S. • Lincoln, Abraham • Mencken, H.L. • Orwell, George • Pratchett, Terry • Roosevelt, Eleanor • Roosevelt, Theodore • Russell, Bertrand • Seneca the Younger • Shakespeare, William • Shaw, George Bernard • Sophocles • Stevenson, Adlai • Stevenson, Robert Louis • Twain, Mark
- Only the 45 most quoted authors are shown above. Full author list.
Most Quoted Authors
Topic Cloudaction age America beauty belief change character death democracy education ego error evil faith fear freedom future God government happiness history human nature humanity integrity leadership liberty life love morality perspective politics power pride progress reality religion science society success truth virtue war wealth wisdom writing
- I've been adding topics since 2014, so not all quotes have been given one. Full topic list.
- “Wealth and Poverty,” speech, National… (8,570)
- Agamemnon, ll. 175-183 [tr. Johnston (2007)] (6,282)
- “The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree (1942) (6,084)
- “The Triumph of Stupidity” (10 May 1933) (5,308)
- Nobel prize acceptance speech (10 Dec 1962) (4,927)
- “On The Conduct of Life” (1822) (4,554)
- “Tips for Teens,” Social Studies (1981) (4,249)
- “In Search of a Majority,” Speech,… (4,002)
- “Get a Knife, Get a Dog, but Get Rid of… (3,784)
- “A Cult of Ignorance,” Newsweek (21 Jan 1980) (3,741)
- “Notes on Nationalism” (1945) on
- Notice to email subscribers on
- Notice to email subscribers on
- Subscribe/Feeds on
- A Writer’s Notebook (1949) on
- The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 6, l. 180ff [Odysseus to Nausicaa] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Rieu (1946)] on
- Meditations, Book 2, #11 [tr. Gill (2014)] on
- “We’ll Meet Again” (1939) [with Hughie Charles] on
- Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #3366 (1732) on
- In “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” The Guardian (20 Feb 2010) on
You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.
No source found. The quote is frequently also attributed to Richard Feynman. It is likely based on a similar quote by Ernest Rutherford.
- "If you can't explain something to a six-year-old, you really don't understand it yourself."
- "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
The closest reference to it can be found in Ronald W. Clark, Einstein: The Life and Times (1972):
To de Broglie, Einstein revealed an instinctive reason for his inability to accept the purely statistical interpretation of wave mechanics. It was a reason which linked him with Rutherford, who used to state that "it should be possible to explain the laws of physics to a barmaid." Einstein, having a final discussion with de Broglie on the platform of the Gare du Nord in Paris, whence they had traveled from Brussels to attend the Fresnel centenary celebrations, said "that all physical theories, their mathematical expressions apart ought to lend themselves to so simple a description 'that even a child could understand them.'"
More discussion of this quotation here.
Added on 15-Jul-11 | Last updated 21-Feb-21