Quotations about:
    rudeness


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We are all born rude. No infant has ever appeared yet with the grace to understand how inconsiderate it is to disturb others in the middle of the night.

Judith Martin (b. 1938) American author, journalist, etiquette expert [a.k.a. Miss Manners]
Common Courtesy, “In the Quest for Equality, Civilization Itself Is Maligned” (1985)
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Added on 10-Jun-24 | Last updated 10-Jun-24
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There are such things as to speak well, to speak easily, to speak correctly, and to speak seasonably. We offend against the last way of speaking if we mention a sumptuous entertainment we have just been present at before people who have not had enough to eat; if we boast of our good health before invalids; if we talk of our riches, our income, and our fine furniture to a man who has not so much as an income or a dwelling; in a word, if we speak of our prosperity before people who are wretched; such a conversation is too much for them, and the comparison which they then make between their condition and ours is very painful.

[Il y a parler bien, parler aisément, parler juste, parler à propos. C’est pécher contre ce dernier genre que de s’étendre sur un repas magnifique que l’on vient de faire, devant des gens qui sont réduits à épargner leur pain; de dire merveilles de sa santé devant des infirmes; d’entretenir de ses richesses, de ses revenus et de ses ameublements un homme qui n’a ni rentes ni domicile; en un mot, de parler de son bonheur devant des misérables: cette conversation est trop forte pour eux, et la comparaison qu’ils font alors de leur état au vôtre est odieuse.]

Jean de La Bruyere
Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
The Characters [Les Caractères], ch. 5 “Of Society and Conversation [De la Société et de la Conversation],” § 23 (5.23) (1688) [tr. Van Laun (1885)]
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(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Some men talk well, easily, justly, and to the purpose: those offend in the last kind, who speak of the Banquets they are to be at, before such as are reduc'd to spare their Bread; of sound Limbs, before the Infirm; of Demesnes and Revenues, before the Poor and Needy; of fine Houses and Furniture, before such as have neither Dwelling or Moveables: in a word, who speak of Prosperity, before the Miserable. This conversation is too strong for 'em, and the comparison you make between their condition and yours is odious.
[Bullord ed. (1696)]

There is speaking well, speaking easily, speaking justly, and speaking seasonably: 'Tis transgressing the last rule, to speak ofthe sumptuous Entertainments you have made, before such as are reduc'd to want of Bread; of a healthy Constitution of Body, before the Infirm; of Demesnes, Revenues and Furniture, before a Man who has neither Dwelling, Rents, nor Movables; in a word, to speak of your Prosperity before the Miserable: this Conversation is too strong from them, and the Comparison they make between their Condition and yours is odious.
[Curll ed. (1713)]

There is speaking well, speaking easily, speaking justly, and speaking seasonably: It is offending against the last, to speak of Entertainments before the Indigent; of sound Limbs and Health before the Infirm; of Houses and Lands before one who has not so much as a Dwelling; in a Word, to speak of your Prosperity before the Miserable; this Conversation is cruel, and the Comparison which naturally rises in them betwixt their Condition and yours is excruciating.
[Browne ed. (1752)]

There is a difference between speaking well, speaking easily, speaking with judgement and speaking opportunely. We fail in this last respect when we enlarge upon the splendid meal we have just enjoyed in front of people who have to be thrifty of their bread; or boast of our health in the presence of invalids; or talk about our wealth, our fortune and property to a man who has neither home nor income; in a word, when we speak of our happiness in front of those who are wretched; such conversation is too painful for them, and the comparison they are bound to make between your state and their own is intolerable.
[tr. Stewart (1970)]

 
Added on 20-Feb-24 | Last updated 20-Feb-24
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Miss Manners corrects only upon request. Then she does it from a distance, with no names attached, and no personal relationship, however distant, between the corrector and the correctee. She does not search out errors like a policeman leaping out of a speed trap. When Miss Manners observes people behaving rudely, she behaves politely to them, and then goes home and snickers about them afterward.

Judith Martin (b. 1938) American author, journalist, etiquette expert [a.k.a. Miss Manners]
Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, Introduction (1983)
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Added on 23-Oct-23 | Last updated 23-Oct-23
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Whoever one is, and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude.

Maurice Baring
Maurice Baring (1874-1945) English man of letters, writer, essayist, translator
The Coat Without Seam, ch. 8 [Countess Felsen] (1929)
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Added on 6-Sep-23 | Last updated 6-Sep-23
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Etiquette is a set of rules people use so they can be rude to each other in public.

Patrick Rothfuss
Patrick Rothfuss (b. 1973) American author
The Name of the Wind, ch. 60 [Threpe] (2007)
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Added on 3-Oct-22 | Last updated 3-Oct-22
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Even when you are right, it is good to make concessions: people will recognize you were right but admire your courtesy. More is lost through holding on than can be won by defeating others. One defends not truth but rudeness.

[Aun en caso de evidencia, es ingenuidad el ceder, que no se ignora la razón que tuvo y se conoce la galantería que tiene. Más se pierde con el arrimamiento que se puede ganar con el vencimiento; no es defender la verdad, sino la grosería.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 183 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1992)]
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(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translations:

It is civil to yield, even in those things wherein we have greatest reason and certainty: for then all know, who had reason on their side: and besides the reason, Gallantry is also discovered in the procedure. There is more esteem lost, by a wilfull resistence, then there is got by carrying it by open force. For that is not so much a defending of truth, as a demonstration of Clownishness.
[Flesher ed. (1685)]

Even in cases of obvious certainty it is fine to yield: our reasons for holding the view cannot escape notice, our courtesy in yielding must be the more recognised. Our obstinacy loses more than our victory yields: that is not to champion truth but rather rudeness.
[tr. Jacobs (1892)]

Even with the proof on your side, it is well to make concession, for your reasons are known and your gentlemanliness is recognized; more is lost in contention than can be gained in consummation, for such does not defend the truth, but only exhibits bad manners.
[tr. Fischer (1937)]

 
Added on 1-Jun-22 | Last updated 13-Feb-24
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Politeness is prudence and consequently rudeness is folly. To make enemies by being wantonly and unnecessarily rude is as crazy as setting one’s house on fire.

[Höflichkeit ist Klugheit; folglich ist Unhöflichkeit Dummheit: sich mittelst ihrer unnötiger und mutwilliger Weise Feinde machen ist Raserei, wie wenn man sein Haus in Brand steckt.]

Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Parerga and Paralipomena, Vol. 1, “Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life [Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit],” ch. 5 “Counsels and Maxims [Paränesen und Maximen],” § 3.36 (1851) [tr. Payne (1974)]
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Source (German). Alternate translation:

It is a wise thing to be polite; consequently, it is a stupid thing to be rude. To make enemies by unnecessary and willful incivility, is just as insane a proceeding as to set your house on fire.
[tr. Saunders (1890)]

 
Added on 25-Apr-22 | Last updated 22-Feb-23
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Discourtesy is not one specific vice of the soul but the result of several vices: foolish vanity, ignorance of one’s duties, laziness, stupidity, thoughtlessness, contempt for others, and jealousy.

[L’incivilité n’est pas un vice de l’âme, elle est l’effet de plusieurs vices: de la sotte vanité, de l’ignorance de ses devoirs, de la paresse, de la stupidité, de la distraction, du mépris des autres, de la jalousie.]

Jean de La Bruyere
Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
The Characters [Les Caractères], ch. 11 “Of Mankind [De l’Homme],” § 8 (11.8) (1688) [tr. Stewart (1970)]
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(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Incivility is not a Vice of the Soul, but the effect of several Vices; of Vanity, Ignorance of Duty, Laziness, Stupidity, Distraction, Contempt of others and Jealousie.
[Bullord ed. (1696); Curll ed. (1713); Browne ed. (1752)]

Impoliteness is not a vice of the mind, but the consequence of several vices; of foolish vanity, of ignorance of one’s duties, of idleness, of stupidity, of absence of mind, of contempt for others, and of jealousy.
[tr. Van Laun (1885)]

 
Added on 18-Jan-22 | Last updated 6-Jun-23
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Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms such as you have named … but a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Friday (1982)
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Added on 6-Dec-21 | Last updated 6-Dec-21
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If you’re a cheap tipper, by the way, or rude to your server, you are dead to me. You are lower than whale feces.

Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain (1956-2018) American chef, author, travel documentarian
(Attributed)
 
Added on 23-Jul-21 | Last updated 23-Jul-21
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It was one Sunday evening early in September of the year 1903 that I received one of Holmes’s laconic messages: “Come at once if convenient — if inconvenient come all the same. S.H.'”

Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) British writer and physician
“The Adventure of the Creeping Man,” Strand Magazine (Mar 1923)
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Reprinted in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927).
 
Added on 11-Mar-21 | Last updated 11-Mar-21
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No one can be as calculatedly rude as the British, which amazes Americans, who do not understand studied insult and can only offer abuse as a substitute.

Paul Gallico (1897-1976) American author, sports journalist
In the New York Times (14 Jan 1962)
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Added on 20-Sep-19 | Last updated 20-Sep-19
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There are no favorites in my office. I treat them all with the same general inconsideration.

Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) American politician, educator, US President (1963-69)
Quoted in Leslie Carpenter, “Whip from Texas,” Collier’s (1951-02-17)
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When asked, as a freshman US Senator, about favoritism among his staff.
 
Added on 20-Mar-13 | Last updated 28-Jul-23
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Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
The Passionate State of Mind, Aphorism 241 (1955)
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Added on 9-Jan-12 | Last updated 23-Jun-22
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A Man that should call everything by its right Name, would hardly pass the Streets without being knock’d down as a common Enemy.

George Savile, Marquis of Halifax (1633-1695) English politician and essayist
“Of Caution and Suspicion,” Political, Moral and Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections (1750)
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Added on 7-Oct-11 | Last updated 30-Jan-20
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Ideological differences are no excuse for rudeness.

Judith Martin (b. 1938) American author, journalist, etiquette expert [a.k.a. Miss Manners]
“Miss Manners,” syndicated column (1978-10-08)
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On interactions between the general public and picketers, though she has used the phrase on other occasions.

Reprinted in Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, Part 3 "Basic Civilization," "Common Courtesy for All Ages" (1983).
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Jan-24
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A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.

Dave Barry (b. 1947) American humorist
“25 Things I Have Learned In 50 Years,” #21 (1997)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Oct-14
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When Miss Manners observes people behaving rudely, she never steps in to correct them. She behaves politely to them, and then goes home and snickers about them afterward. That is what the well-bred person does.

Judith Martin (b. 1938) American author, journalist, etiquette expert [a.k.a. Miss Manners]
Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, Introduction (1983)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 13-Feb-24
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