- 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.
- 18,768 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… (8,831)
- Agamemnon, ll. 175-183 [tr. Johnston (2007)] (6,333)
- “The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree (1942) (6,126)
- “The Triumph of Stupidity” (10 May 1933) (5,366)
- Nobel prize acceptance speech (10 Dec 1962) (4,927)
- “On The Conduct of Life” (1822) (4,571)
- “Tips for Teens,” Social Studies (1981) (4,355)
- “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
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- 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
A pessimist looks at his glass and says it is half empty; an optimist looks at it and says it is half full.
There is substantial evidence that Stamp used this now-cliched phrase, or variations of it, on multiple spoken occasions in 1935, the earliest references I could find.
- The Railway Service Journal (later Transport Salaried Staff Journal) mentions 1935 after-dinner remarks by Stamp: "After dinner, Sir Josiah Stamp defined an optimist as 'the man who looks at his glass and says it is half full,' and the pessimist as 'the man who looks at it and says it is half empty.'" [Source]
- Similarly, the Bristol Chamber of Commerce Journal mentions a 1935 speech: "A pessimist is a man who looks at the glass and describes it as half empty, and an optimist is a man who describes it as half full. It is all a question of the point of view." [Source]
- A New York Times article (12 Nov 1935) includes "I came recently upon a graphic distinction drawn by Sir Josiah Stamp between an optimist and a pessimist," followed by the phrasing noted at the top. [Source, Source]
Added on 5-Aug-21 | Last updated 5-Aug-21