Quotations about   reputation

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Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.

John Wooden (1910-2010) American basketball player and coach
They Call Me Coach, ch. 9, epigram (1972)
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Added on 31-Jul-18 | Last updated 31-Jul-18
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Character is much easier kept than recovered.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
The American Crisis, #13 (19 Apr 1783)
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Added on 8-Aug-17 | Last updated 8-Aug-17
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The wisest man could ask no more of Fate
Than to be simple, modest, manly, true,
Safe from the Many, honored by the Few;
To count as naught in World, or Church, or State,
But inwardly in secret to be great.

James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) American diplomat, essayist, poet
“Jeffries Wyman,” The Nation #484 (8 Oct 1874)
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Added on 20-Jun-17 | Last updated 30-Jun-17
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Even doubtful Accusations leave a Stain behind them.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia, #1395 (1732)
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Perhaps a man’s character was like a tree, and his reputation like its shadow; the shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

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

In Noah Brooks "Lincoln's Imagination," _Scribner's Monthly (Aug 1879).
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No man ever stood the lower in my estimation for having a patch in his clothes; yet I am sure that there is greater anxiety, commonly, to have fashionable, or at least clean and unpatched clothes, than to have a sound conscience.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American philosopher and writer
Walden, “Economy” (1854)
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Added on 3-May-17 | Last updated 17-May-17
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It used to be a good hotel, but that proves nothing — I used to be a good boy, for that matter. Both of us have lost character of late years.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Innocents Abroad, ch. 57 (1869)
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Added on 20-Apr-17 | Last updated 20-Apr-17
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A man is what he is, not what men say he is. His character no man can touch. His character is what he is before his God and his Judge; and only himself can damage that. His reputation is what men say he is. That can be damaged; but reputation is for time, character is for eternity.

John Bartholomew Gough (1817-1886) Anglo-American social reformer and temperance orator
(Attributed)

Quoted in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
Added on 28-Mar-17 | Last updated 28-Mar-17
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God will judge us by our own thoughts and deeds, not by what others say about us.

Anne Brontë (1820-1849) British novelist, poet [pseud. Acton Bell]
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, ch. 39 “A Scheme of Escape” (1848)
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The best foreign policy is to live our daily lives in honesty, decency, and integrity; at home, making our own land a more fitting habitation for free men; and abroad, joining with those of like mind and heart, to make of the world a place where all men can dwell in peace.

Eisenhower - honesty decency integrity - wist_info quote

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Inaugural Gabriel Silver lecture, Columbia University (23 Mar 1950)

Eisenhower was President of Columbia University at the time. The quote was widely used in an "I Believe" advertisement for Eisenhower during the 1956 election.

(Sources 1 and 2)
Added on 21-Jun-16 | Last updated 21-Jun-16
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When you get to be President, there are all those things, the honors, the twenty-one gun salutes, all those things. You have to remember it isn’t for you. It’s for the Presidency.

Harry S Truman (1884-1972) US President (1945-1953)
In Merle Miller, Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman, ch. 15 (1973)
Added on 31-May-16 | Last updated 31-May-16
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It is a sad fate for a man to die
Too well known to everybody else,
And still unknown to himself.

[Illi mors gravis incubate
Qui notus nimis omnibus
Ignotus moritur sibi.]

Seneca - still unknown to himself - wist_info quote

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Thyestes, ll. 401-403 [tr. Bacon]

Lines from the Chorus translated by Francis Bacon, in "Of Great Place," Essays, Part 11. Sometimes incorrectly attributed to Bacon.
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The best apology against false accusers is silence and sufferance, and honest deeds set against dishonest words.

John Milton (1608-1674) English poet
An Apology for Smectymnuus (1642)
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Time never fails to bring every exalted reputation to a strict scrutiny: the world, in passing the judgment that is never to be reversed, will deny all partiality even to the name of Washington. Let it be denied, for its justice will confer glory.

Fisher Ames (1758-1808) American politician, orator
“Eulogy on Washington” (8 Feb 1800)
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Added on 12-May-16 | Last updated 12-May-16
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Many men and many women enjoy popular esteem, not because they are known, but because they are not.

Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
(Attributed)
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Attributed in Maturin M. Ballou, Notable Thoughts About Women, #3144 (1882).
Added on 27-Apr-16 | Last updated 27-Apr-16
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There is but one way I know of conversing safely with all men; that is, not by concealing what we say or do, but by saying or doing nothing that deserves to be concealed.

Pope - deserves to be concealed - wist_info quote

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) English poet
Letter to H. Cromwell (28 Oct 1710)
Added on 11-Apr-16 | Last updated 11-Apr-16
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Act uprightly, and despise Calumny; Dirt may stick to a Mud Wall, but not to polish’d Marble.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1757)
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Calumny is like a wasp which harasses you. Raise no hand against it unless you’re sure of killing it, for otherwise it will return to the charge more furious than ever.

Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Maxims and Thoughts, #302 (1796)
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Alt. trans.: "Calumny is like the wasp which worries you, which it were best not to try to get rid of unless you are sure of slaying it; for otherwise it will return to the charge more furious than ever."
Added on 29-Feb-16 | Last updated 29-Feb-16
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ANTONY: The evil men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Julius Caesar, Act 3, scene 2, l. 80 (1599)
Added on 23-Feb-16 | Last updated 23-Feb-16
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Say nothing good of yourself, you will be distrusted; say nothing bad of yourself, you will be taken at your word.

Joseph Roux (1834-1886) French Catholic priest
Meditations of a Parish Priest: Thoughts, Part 5 “Joy, Suffering, Fortune,” #22 (1886) [tr. Hapgood]
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It’s a sad fact of modern life that sooner or later you will end up on YouTube doing something stupid. The trick, according to my dad, is to make a fool of yourself to the best of your ability.

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Broken Homes (2013)
Added on 27-Jan-16 | Last updated 27-Jan-16
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Besides, there are two things that will be believed of any man whatsoever, and one of them is that he has taken to drink.

Booth Tarkington (1869-1946) American novelist and dramatist
Penrod, ch. 10 (1914)
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Added on 25-Jan-16 | Last updated 25-Jan-16
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It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help.

Martin - good qualities - wist_info quote

Judith Martin (b. 1938) American author, journalist [a.k.a. Miss Manners]
(Attributed)
Added on 6-Jan-16 | Last updated 20-Jan-19
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The greatest height of heroism to which an individual, like a people, can attain is to know how to face ridicule; better still, to know how to make oneself ridiculous and not to shrink from the ridicule.

Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936) Spanish philosopher and writer [Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo]
The Tragic Sense of Life [Del Sentimiento Trágico de la Vida], Conclusion (1913) [tr. Flitch (1921)]
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Added on 6-Nov-15 | Last updated 6-Nov-15
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When you’re good at something, you’ll tell everyone. When you’re great at something, they’ll tell you.

Walter Payton (1954-1999) American football player
(Attributed)
Added on 20-Oct-15 | Last updated 20-Oct-15
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A single lie destroys a whole reputation for integrity.

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish writer.
The Art of Wordly Wisdom, 181 (1647) [tr Jacobs (1943)]
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I have regard to appearance still. So am I no hero.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (6 Apr 1839)
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Never threaten, because a threat is a promise to pay that it isn’t always convenient to meet, but if you don’t make it good it hurts your credit.

George Horace Lorimer (1867-1937) American journalist, author, magazine editor
Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son (1901)
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Added on 25-Jun-15 | Last updated 15-Oct-15
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Let us believe neither half of the good people tell us of ourselves, nor half the evil they say of others.

Jean-Antoine Petit-Senn (1792-1870) French-Swiss poet
(Attributed)
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Added on 5-Jun-15 | Last updated 6-Jun-15
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If evil Men speak good, or good Men evil of thee; examine thy Actions, and suspect thyself.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Introductio ad Prudentiam, #1252 (1731)
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There is no limit to what a man can do so long as he does not care a straw who gets the credit for it.

Charles Edward "C. E." Montague (1867-1928) English journalist, novelist, essayist
Disenchantment, ch. 15 (1922)
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When we meet a fact which contradicts a prevailing theory, we must accept the fact and abandon the theory, even when the theory is supported by great names and generally accepted.

Claude Bernard (1813-1878) French physiologist, scientist
An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine [Introduction à l’Étude de la Médecine Expérimentale] (1865)
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Let’s work hard at being real. This means we are free to question, to admit failure or weakness, to confess wrong, to declare the truth. When a person is authentic, he or she does not have to win or always be in the top ten or make a big impression or look super-duper pious. […] Authentic people usually enjoy life more than most. They don’t take
themselves so seriously. They actually laugh and cry and think more freely because they have nothing to prove — no big image to protect, no role to play. They have no fear of being found out, because they’re not hiding anything.

Charles Rozell "Chuck" Swindoll (b. 1934) American evangelist, author, educator
Strengthening Your Grip, “On Priorities” (1982)
Added on 31-Oct-14 | Last updated 31-Oct-14
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My manner of thinking, so you say, cannot be approved. Do you suppose I care? A poor fool indeed is he who adopts a manner of thinking for others! My manner of thinking stems straight from my considered reflections; it holds with my existence, with the way I am made. It is not in my power to alter it; and were it, I’d not do so.

Donatien Alphonse François de Sade (1740-1814) French aristocrat, philosopher, writer, libertine [The Marquis de Sade]
Letter to his wife (1783)
Added on 24-Oct-14 | Last updated 24-Oct-14
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Please not thyself the flattering crowd to hear;
‘Tis fulsome stuff, to please thy itching ear.
[…]
Survey thy soul, not what thou does appear,
But what thou art.

Persius (AD 34-62) Roman poet and satirist [Aulus Persius Flaccus]
Fourth Satire
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Whatever may be the success of my stories, I shall be resolute in preserving my incognito, having observed that a nom de plume secures all the advantages without the disagreeables of reputation.

George Eliot (1819-1880) English novelist [pseud. of Mary Ann Evans]
Letter to William Blackwood (4 Feb 1857)
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Guard your honor. Let your reputation fall where it will. And outlive the bastards.

Lois McMaster Bujold (b. 1949) American author
A Civil Campaign (1999)
Added on 6-Aug-14 | Last updated 6-Aug-14
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The only happy author in this world is he who is below the care of reputation.

Washington Irving (1783-1859) American author [pseud. for Geoffrey Crayon]
Tales of a Traveler, Part 2 “The Poor-Devil Author” (1824)
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To be idle and to be poor have always been reproaches, and therefore every man endeavours with his utmost care to hide his poverty from others, and his idleness from himself.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Idler, #17 (5 Aug 1758)
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Regard not so much what the World thinks of thee, as what thou thinkest of thyself.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Introductio at Prudentiam, #1552 (1731)
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There are many who dare not kill themselves for fear of what the neighbors will say.

Cyril Connolly (1903-1974) English intellectual, literary critic and writer.
The Unquiet Grave, ch. 2 “Te Palinure Petens” (1945)
Added on 22-Aug-13 | Last updated 7-May-15
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Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Othello, Act 3, sc. 3, l. 155-161 [Iago] (1604)
Added on 31-Jul-13 | Last updated 19-Jul-15
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You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.

Henry Ford (1863-1947) American industrialist
(Attributed)
Added on 24-Jul-13 | Last updated 17-Jun-16
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Many consult their reputation; but few their conscience.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 254 [tr. Lyman (1862)
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The chief way to gain good will is by good deeds.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis, 2.9 [tr. Edinger (1974)]
Added on 28-Aug-12 | Last updated 13-Jul-17
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My wife should be as much free from suspicion of a crime as she is from a crime itself.

[Meos tam suspicione quam crimine iudico carere oportere.]

Julius Caesar (100-44 BC) Roman general and statesman [Gaius Julius Caesar]
In Suetonius, Life of Caesar

Popularly, "Caesar’s wife must be above reproach" or "beyond reproach."

Caesar was called to be a witness against Clodius, who was charge with having  defiled sacred rites and having an affair with Pompeia, Caesar's wife.  Caesar said he had investigated and found out nothing to prove the Pompeia's fidelity.  When asked why, then, he had divorced her, he gave this answer.

Alt. trans.: "I judge it necessary for my kin to be as free from suspicion as from the charge of wrongdoing."

Alt. trans.: "I wished my wife to be not so much as suspected." [in Plutarch, “Caesar,” Parallel Lives [tr. Dryden (1693)]].
Added on 3-Mar-11 | Last updated 28-Dec-16
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No legacy is so rich as honesty.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
All’s Well that Ends Well, Act 3, sc. 5 (1602)
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Do as most do and few will speak ill of thee.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Introductio ad Prudentiam, # 135 (1726)
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There are two classes [of scientists], those who want to know and do not care whether others think they know or not, and those who do not much care about knowing but care very greatly about being reputed as knowing.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler, “Scientists” (1912)

Full text.

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Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Hamlet Act 3, sc. 1, l. 139 [Hamlet] (1600)
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A cock has great influence on his own dunghill.

[In sterculino plurimum gallus potest.] 

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 357
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A good reputation is more valuable than money.

[Honesta fama melior pecunia est.]

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 108
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You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do.

Olin Miller (fl. early 20th C) American humorist
(Attributed)

First quoted by Walter Winchell, "On Broadway" (7 Jan 1937)

Also frequently attributed to Mark Twain, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Ethel Barrett; the latter used it ("We would worry less about what others think of us, if we realized how seldom they do") in her 1968 book Don’t Look Now But Your Personality is Showing. See here for more information.

Variants:

  • "You’ll worry less about what people think about you when you realize how seldom they do."
  • "You wouldn’t worry about what people may think of you if you could know how seldom they do."
  • "We wouldn’t worry so much about what folks think of us if we knew how seldom they do."
  • "You wouldn’t worry so much about what people think of you, if you knew how seldom they do."
  • "You wouldn’t worry so much about what other people think if you realized how seldom they do."

See also Johnson.

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 12-Feb-15
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We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Kavanagh: A Tale, ch. 1 (1849)
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SELF-RESPECT: The secure feeling that no one, as yet, is suspicious.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
A Book of Burlesques, ch. 11 (1920)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Jul-14
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