- 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.
- 18,773 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… (8,838)
- Agamemnon, ll. 175-183 [tr. Johnston (2007)] (6,336)
- “The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree (1942) (6,127)
- “The Triumph of Stupidity” (10 May 1933) (5,367)
- Nobel prize acceptance speech (10 Dec 1962) (4,927)
- “On The Conduct of Life” (1822) (4,575)
- “Tips for Teens,” Social Studies (1981) (4,356)
- “In Search of a Majority,” Speech,… (4,011)
- “A Cult of Ignorance,” Newsweek (21 Jan 1980) (3,809)
- “Get a Knife, Get a Dog, but Get Rid of… (3,790)
- “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
Freedom of speech and freedom of action are meaningless without freedom to think. And there is no freedom of thought without doubt.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 13-May-20
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The mere abhorrence of vice is not a virtue at all.
That is the essence of a witch-hunt, that any questioning of the evidence or the procedures in itself constitutes proof of complicity.
Even though eternity lies before us, this is the life in which the work of this life is to be done. The life that lies beyond will have its own work to do, its own decisions to be made, its own distance to travel.
Don’t let life discourage you; everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was.
Many a friendship — long, loyal, and self-sacrificing — rested at first upon no thicker a foundation than a kind word.Frederick W. Faber (1814-1863) British hymnist, theologian
When you read a classic you do not see in the book more than you did before. You see more in you than there was before.
To feel at home, stay at home. A foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It’s designed to make its own people comfortable.
If you do the best you can, you will find, nine times out of ten, that you have done as well as or better than anyone else.
Some of us might find happiness if we would quit struggling so desperately for it.
I have found that the greatest help in meeting any problem with decency and self-respect and whatever courage is demanded, is to know where you yourself stand. That is, to have in words what you believe and are acting from.
Letter to David Kirk, Oxford, Miss. (8 Mar 1956)
Intellectual brilliance is no guarantee against being dead wrong.
No man is a failure who is enjoying life.
Early morning cheerfulness can be extremely obnoxious.
Beware of the person who can’t be bothered by details.
So long as we are full of self, we are shocked at the faults of others. Let us think often of our own sin, and we shall be lenient to the sins of others.
With every passing hour our solar system comes forty-three thousand miles closer to globular cluster M13 in the constellation Hercules, and still there are some misfits who continue to insist that there is no such thing as progress.
There are two possible outcomes: If the result confirms the hypothesis, then you’ve made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you’ve made a discovery.Enrico Fermi (1901-1954) Italian-American physicist
The inexperienced, and crackpots, and people like that, make guesses that are simple, but you can immediately see that they are wrong, so that does not count. Others, the inexperienced students, make guesses that are very complicated, and it sort of looks as if it is all right, but I know it is not true because the truth always turns out to be simpler than you thought.
The Character of Physical Law, ch 7 “Seeking New Laws” (1965)
Scientists take it for granted that it is perfectly consistent to be unsure — that it is possible to live and not know. But I don’t know whether everyone realizes that this is true.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.
“Cargo Cult Science,” commencement address, California Institute of Technology (1974)
Madam, there’s no such thing as a tough child — if you parboil them first for seven hours, they always come out tender.
Everybody should believe in something. I believe I’ll have another drink.
Goodwill is the one and only asset that competition cannot undersell or destroy.Marshall Field (1834-1906) American merchant
If we would only give, just once, the same amount of reflection to what we want to get out of life that we give to the question of what to do with a two weeks’ vacation, we would be startled at our false standards and the aimless procession of our busy days.Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1879-1958) American author and essayist
There is no point at which you can say, ‘Well, I’m successful now. I might as well take a nap.’
Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite; and furthermore, always carry a small snake.
It isn’t where you came from; it’s where you’re going that counts.
Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Apr-11
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If you’re strong enough, there are no precedents.
It seems to me that if we were all supposed to wind up in the same place, we would have been put there to begin with.Nancy Flannigan (contemp.)
It is only when you recognize that you CAN do what Hitler did that you can consciously choose not to.Joseph C. Fletcher (1905-1991) American ethicist
Enlightened self-interest is a wonderful thing. Turning on the light can be hard.
The (to me) proper reason for treating people nicely is not so they will treat you nicely, but because it is, in a word, nicer to do so.
Money can’t buy happiness, but poverty can’t buy anything.
Money can’t buy happiness, but it can make misery a lot more comfortable.
I believe that the First Amendment should cover everything. Even the incredibly icky, distasteful stuff. Because if we let “them” start making ethical judgments, they might not stop until it’s nothing but Norman Rockwell and Hummel figurines.
It isn’t what they say about you, it’s what they whisper.Errol Flynn (1909-1959) Australian-American actor
There are those who have thought that Winslow was the ideal form for life itself. Advanced civilizations who hold this theory, while interesting for a while, tend not to last very long. A very few civilizations have decided that Winslow is merely the ideal form for small fuzzy green aligators and never quite understood what all the fuss was about. They are usually exterminated in holy wars by their neighbors.
Heroes come in many forms. Some are more frightening than others.
MINSK: Dis iz turnink into vun of dose plans … the kind vere ve kill everybody dot notices dot ve’s killin’ people?
GORB: It is?
MINSK: Uh huh. And how do dose alvays end?
GORB: De dirigible iz in flames, everyboddyz dead an’ I’ve lost my hat.
MINSK: Dot’s right. Und any plan vere you lose you hat iz?
GORB: A bad plan?
MINSK: Right again!
We are living in a new culture, one of responsibility dodgers and corner cutters. Nobody cares if a thing is right or not. If you try to trace a poor job or craftsmanship back, you will find, inevitably, that nobody did it.Robert Fontaine (contemp.)
The one important think I have learnt over the years is the difference between taking one’s work seriously and taking oneself seriously. The first is imperative and the second disastrous.Dame Margot Fonteyn (1919-1991) English dancer [b. Margaret Hookham]
Margot Fonteyn: An Autobiography (1976)
Don’t forget until too late that the business of life is not business, but living.
Any business arrangement that is not profitable to the other person will in the end prove unprofitable for you. The bargain that yields mutual satisfaction is the only one that is apt to be repeated.
History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.
One worthwhile task carried to a successful conclusion is worth half-a-hundred half-finished tasks.
Anyone who says businessmen deal in facts, not fiction, has never read old five-year projections.
People who matter are most aware that everyone else does, too.
The biggest mistake people make in life is not trying to make a living at doing what they most enjoy.
If you have a job without aggravations, you don’t have a job.
A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.
Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.