Quotations about   fool

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The ratio of damn fools to villains is high.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
The Puppet Masters, ch. 26 (1951)
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Added on 17-Nov-17 | Last updated 16-Feb-18
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The silliest woman can manage a clever man; but it needs a very clever woman to manage a fool!

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) English writer
Plain Tales from the Hills, “Three and — an Extra” (1888)
Added on 17-Mar-17 | Last updated 17-Mar-17
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Every man is a divinity in disguise, a god playing the fool. It seems as if heaven had sent its insane angels into our world as to an asylum, and here they will break out into their native music and utter at intervals the words they have heard in heaven; and then the mad fit returns, and they mope and wallow like dogs.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“History,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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Added on 16-Jan-17 | Last updated 16-Jan-17
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The certain way to be cheated is to fancy one’s self more cunning than others.

Charron - more cunning than others - wist_info quote

Pierre Charron (1541-1603) French Catholic theologian and philosopher
(Attributed)

Quoted in John Timbs, Laconics: Or, The Best Words of the Best Authors, vol. 3, #308 (1829)
Added on 12-Jul-16 | Last updated 12-Jul-16
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Of all the creatures that creep, swim, or fly,
Peopling the earth, the waters, and the sky,
From Rome to Iceland, Paris to Japan,
I really think the greatest fool is man.

[De tous les animaux qui s’élèvent dans l’air,
Qui marchent sur la terre, ou nagent dans la mer,
De Paris au Pérou, du Japon jusqu’à Rome,
Le plus sot animal, à mon avis, c’est l’homme.]

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
Satires, Satire 8, l. 1 (1716)
Added on 8-Jun-16 | Last updated 8-Jun-16
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A fool always finds one still more foolish to admire him.

[Un sot trouve toujours un plus sot qui l’admire.]

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
The Art of Poetry [L’Art Poétique], Canto 1, l. 232 (1674)

Alt. trans.: "A fool always finds a greater fool to admire him."
Added on 18-May-16 | Last updated 18-May-16
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A fine quotation is a diamond on the finger of a man of wit, and a pebble in the hand of a fool.

Roux - fine quotation - wist_info quote

Joseph Roux (1834-1886) French Catholic priest
Meditations of a Parish Priest: Thoughts, Part 1, #74 (1886)
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Added on 14-Mar-16 | Last updated 14-Mar-16
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For as blushing will sometimes make a whore pass for a virtuous woman, so modesty may make a fool seem a man of sense.

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) English poet
“Thoughts on Various Subjects” (1727)
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Added on 11-Jan-16 | Last updated 11-Jan-16
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Call me a “rube” and a “hick,” but I’d a lot rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it.

Rogers - Brooklyn Bridge - wist_info quote

Will Rogers (1879-1935) American humorist
(Attributed)
Added on 9-Dec-15 | Last updated 9-Dec-15
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It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
Added on 16-Oct-15 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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The trouble with this country is that there are too many politicians who believe, with a conviction based on experience, that you can fool all of the people all of the time.

Franklin Pierce Adams (1881-1960) American journalist and humorist
Nods and Becks (1944)

See Lincoln.
Added on 19-Aug-15 | Last updated 19-Aug-15
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Nearly always, the best deception trades on the enemy’s own preconceptions. If he already believes what you want him to believe, you have merely to confirm his own ideas rather than to undertake the more difficult task of inserting new ones into his mind.

Ronald Lewin (1914-1984) British military historian, radio producer publishing editor
Ultra Goes to War, ch. 10 (1978)
Added on 11-Aug-15 | Last updated 11-Aug-15
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You philosophers are sages in your maxims, and fools in your conduct.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
“Dialogue Between Franklin and the Gout” (22 Oct 1780)
Added on 28-May-15 | Last updated 28-May-15
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Many talk like Philosophers and live like Fools.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia, #3358 (1732)
Added on 21-May-15 | Last updated 21-May-15
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EDDIE: Kid, life’s hard. But it’s a lot harder if you’re stupid.

Paul Monash (1917-2003) American producer and screenwriter
The Friends of Eddie Coyle (movie) (1973)

Screenplay based on the novel by George V. Higgins (though the line is not in the book). Played in the movie by Robert Mitchum, to whom the quote is often attributed.
Added on 22-Jan-15 | Last updated 22-Jan-15
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It is so pleasant to come across people more stupid than ourselves. We love them at once for being so.

Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927) English writer, humorist [Jerome Klapka Jerome]
“On Cats and dogs,” The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow (1892)
Added on 1-Jan-15 | Last updated 1-Jan-15
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Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Proverbs 17:28
Added on 30-Oct-14 | Last updated 30-Oct-14
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When capable, feign incapacity; when active, inactivity.

Sun-Tzu (fl. 6th C. AD) Chinese general and philosopher [a.k.a. Sun Wu]
The Art of War, “Estimates” (18) [tr. Griffith (1963)]
Added on 16-Oct-14 | Last updated 16-Oct-14
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There is no crime in the cynical American calendar more humiliating than to be a sucker.

Maxwell "Max" Lerner (1902-1992) American journalist, columnist, educator
Actions and Passions: Notes on the Multiple Revolution of Our Time (1949)
Added on 2-Oct-14 | Last updated 2-Oct-14
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Don’t argue with idiots because they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.

Greg King (b. 1964) American author and biographer
(Attributed)

Often attributed to Twain (compare to this), Bob Smith, George Carlin, and John Guerrero, all without citation. See also Proverbs 26:4.
Added on 9-Jun-14 | Last updated 16-Oct-15
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Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)

Frequently attributed to Twain and also to Immanuel Kant (but never, in either case, with any citation). The phrase first makes recognizable (if anonymous) appearance in the late 19th Century; attributions to Twain begin in the late 1990s. See also Proverbs 26:4. For more discussion (and a shout-out to WIST) see here.
Added on 5-Jun-14 | Last updated 25-Mar-19
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I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect.

Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) English historian
(Attributed)

Quoted in The Fra (May 1913) and Elbert Hubbard's Scrap Book (1923).
Added on 30-May-14 | Last updated 30-May-14
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Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Proverbs 26:4 (KJV)
Added on 28-May-14 | Last updated 28-May-14
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April 1. This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, ch. 21 epigraph: “Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar” (1894)
Added on 1-Apr-14 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Nor can a man dupe others long, who has not duped himself first.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1852)
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Often rendered: "A man cannot dupe others long, who has not duped himself first."
Added on 26-Nov-13 | Last updated 26-Nov-13
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The trouble ain’t that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain’t distributed right.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Found in Merle Johnson, More Maxims of Mark (1927), and generally considered authentic.
Added on 16-Jan-13 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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It has always been the prerogative of children and half-wits to point out that the emperor has no clothes. But the half-wit remains a half-wit, and the emperor remains an emperor.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
The Sandman, Vol. 9, The Kindly Ones, “Chapter 4” [Dream] (#60) (1994)
Added on 2-Mar-10 | Last updated 19-Apr-18
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“I don’t keer w’at you do wid me, Brer Fox,” sezee, “so you don’t fling me in dat brier-patch. Roas’ me, Brer Fox” sezee, “but don’t fling me in dat brier-patch,” sezee.

Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1908) American writer
Legends of the Old Plantation, “How Mr. Rabbit was too sharp for Mr. Fox” (1886)
Added on 11-Nov-08 | Last updated 3-May-17
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You may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all the time.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)

A possible precursor to this quote is the widely-republished Jacques Abbadie, "Traité de la Vérité de la Religion Chrétienne," ch. 2 (1684): "One can fool some men, or fool all men in some places and times, but one cannot fool all men in all places and ages. [… ont pû tromper quelques hommes, ou les tromper tous dans certains lieux & en certains tems, mais non pas tous les hommes, dans tous les lieux & dans tous les siécles.]"  A similar passage was used in Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert, ed., Encyclopédie: ou Dictionnaire Raisonné des Sciences, des Arts et des Métiers, Vol. 4 (1754).

First attributed to Lincoln by Fred F. Wheeler, interviewed in the Albany Times (8 Mar 1886): "You can fool part of the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time."

First cited in detail in Alexander K. McClure, “Abe” Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories, (1904), in the above form; it was cited as a speech in Clinton, Ill. (2 Sep 1858), but the passage is not found in any surviving Lincoln documents. No Lincoln reference is found in contemporary writings.

Also attributed to P.T. Barnum and Bob Dylan. See also Lawrence J. Peter.

More detailed discussion of the quotation can be found here.

Added on 13-Sep-07 | Last updated 20-Aug-15
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I do now remember a saying,
‘The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man
knows himself to be a fool.’

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
As You Like It, Act 5, sc. 1, l. 31 [Touchstone] (1599)
Added on 12-May-04 | Last updated 20-May-16
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Look around the table. If you don’t see a sucker, get up, because you’re the sucker.

"Amarillo Slim" Preston (1928-2012) American gambler [Thomas Austin Preston, Jr.]
(Attributed)

Though he used the phrase, he did not take credit for it.  More information here.Variants:
  • "If after ten minutes at the poker table you do not know who the patsy is -- you are the patsy."
  • "If you sit in on a poker game and don't see a sucker, get up. You're the sucker."
  • "If you enter a poker game and you don't see a sucker, get up and leave -- you’re it."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Jul-16
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No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous —
Almost, at times, the Fool.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1917)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Oct-16
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