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How Great Quotes Shaped Our World

Great quotations. What makes them? And how they shape our language and our view of the world

Winston Churchill 1940 (AP)

Winston Churchill 1940 (AP)

“I hate quotations,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Tell me what you know.” But even that, says my guest today, was a quotation. The quotable quote, the durable quotation, is everywhere now. People stack them on their Facebook pages, tag them on their e-mails, tape them over their desks.

They quote Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi. Mae West and Lady Gaga. Erasmus and… Emerson. It’s not just a human tic, says my guest today. These quoted words shape our language, and our view of the world.

This hour On Point: the irresistible quotation.

-Tom Ashbrook


Gary Saul Morson, professor of arts and humanities at Northwestern University, where he is also professor of Slavic languages and literature. He is the author of The Words of Others: From Quotations to Culture.

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Times Higher Education Supplement “I own a copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, but I’ve always had a condescending and disdainful attitude towards it, even though it still sits next to the dictionary on my office shelf. I think I’ve used it exactly once, shortly after receiving it as a teenager, to look up “War is hell”, which Gary Saul Morson’s The Words of Others: From Quotations to Culture informs me (quoting Louis Menand paraphrasing The Yale Book of Quotations) was not actually uttered by William Tecumseh Sherman; Morson also explains that it doesn’t matter that Sherman didn’t say it, and that he might as well have, and that, in a way, “William Tecumseh Sherman” did.”

Literary Review “Academics like me are skilled users of turnitin.com. Never heard of it? Ask the nearest undergraduate and watch their cheek blanch. Turnitin is the trade’s leading ‘plagiarism detector’. You upload the student’s essay or dissertation and it’s checked against trillions of words and phrases in seconds.”

Weekly Standard “Sooner or later, all good dinner table debates reduce themselves to semantics. Yes, John Stuart Mill argued that your freedom only extends to the point where you do harm unto others, but what is harm? Sure, you can say that the Beatles were the best rock band of all time, but what do you actually mean by best? This kind of futile parsing is the raison d’être of Gary Saul Morson’s new book, a work devoted to the arcane matter of what is and isn’t a quotation.”

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  • Christopher Butler

    These are among the many I’ve jotted down on post-it notes and stuck up around my office in the past. Hope you enjoy them:

    “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
    — Philip K. Dick

    “It is perhaps a more fortunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells than to be born a millionaire.”
    — Robert Louis Stevenson

    “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
    — Robert Heinlein

    “Of course it’s the same old story. Truth usually is the same old story.” 
    — Margaret Thatcher 

    “It’s harder to be kind than clever.”
    — Jeff Bezos

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Some great ones here!

  • AC

    A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one.
    Benjamin Franklin
    (i’m huge Ben fan…)

  • CS

    “Hungry man, reach for the book: it is a weapon”
    -Bertolt Brecht

  • Ellen Dibble

    I decided to see if great quotations could help me in a current issue, in that I’m working on a few long court transcripts about under-age sexual abuse, in which bringing that to light unravels families to the extent they have been stable at all, making me wonder about something I don’t know, innocence and virginity and its role.  To further steep yourself in the issue, try watching PBS Masterpiece Mystery Detective Lewis, The Dead of  Winter, about an entire estate afflicted far under the radar.  What, why, how?  So here are some from brainy quote dot com.  I’ll try to edit for daytime reading.
    Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity. George Carlin Girls are losing their virginity at 15, 16. I’m not promoting that. But my songs are talking… about me becoming a man. Chris Brown It is one of the superstitions of the human mind to have imagined that virginity could be a virtue. VoltaireLadies, just a little more virginity, if you don’t mind. Herbert Beerbohm Tree 
    I think the last two are close to pedophilia and male chauvinist pig, but there are no dates.  I’m guessing 18th century and 19th.

  • Terry Tree Tree

    POGO’s “We have met the enemy, and he is us!”, is still appropriate. 

    Ten of the world’s leading religions’  “Treat others as you want to be treated!”, also is timless!  It would also cure a LOT, if not ALL of the world’s ills!

    How about ‘W’s’  ” I will make you safer.”  In his 2002 campaign?  (Have they run out of ‘Bushisms’, for the calendars yet? )

  • MarthaB

    Quotations for today’s world:  “Shortages will be divided equally among the peasants.”  and “Somewhere, right now, there’s a committee meeting to decide your future.  Only you weren’t invited.”

    And from the old cookie box:  “Smooth is the water where the brook runs deep.” and “The noblest mind the best contentment has.”

    And, from my mother: “Everything comes to those who wait.”

  • Gina M

    Tom had a terrific Yeats quote the other day in his show intro: “The best lack all
    conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

  • nj

    Yeah, this is my kinda show! How much space do i have?

    “Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.”

    —John Benfield

    I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

    —Isaac Newton

    We don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything.

    —Thomas Edison

    (More to come. These are clipped and pasted, so just testing to see if the formatting transfers to the Web page.)

    • nj

      Okay, let’s try less line spacing…

      There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth.  We are all crew.
      —Marshall McLuhan

      Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.
      —Groucho Marx

      I never forget a face, but in your case, I’ll make an exception.
      —Groucho Marx

      If we do not change direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.
      —Chinese proverb (plus numerous other attributions)

      You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there. 
      —Yogi Berra 

      When I was a kid, my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.
      —Rodney Dangerfield

      Two things are infinite; the universe and human stupidity. And I’m not sure about the universe.
      —Winston Churchill

      There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.
      —Frank Zappa

      One dog barks at nothing; all the dogs bark with him.
      —Japanese proverb

      Never hate your enemies; it affects your judgement.
      —Michael, in The Godfather, Part 3

      It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government.
      —Thomas Paine

      The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.
      —Martin Luther King

      There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos.
      —Jim Hightower

      • nj

        That’s better!

        I hate housework! You make the bed, you do the dishes, and six months later you have to start all over again!
        —Joan Rivers

        The devil craps on the big pile.
        —Albert Einstein

        I knew if I lived long enough, something like this would happen.
        —George Bernard Shaw’s epitaph

        Man, this wallpaper is killing me. One of us has got to go!
        —Oscar Wilde’s last words

        Try? There is no try. There is only do or not do.

        War is the health of the state.
        —Randolph Bourne

        The various forms of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true, by the philosopher as equally false, and by the magistrate as equally useful.
        —Edward Gibbon, in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire 

        If you have built castles in the air your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
        —Henry David Thoreau, in the “Conclusion” to Walden

        The future ain’t what it used to be.
        —Yogi Berra

        I’d give my right arm to be ambiderxtrous.
        —Yogi  Berra

        I never made a mistake in my life. I thought I did once, but I was wrong.
        —Charles Schulz speaking through Lucy Van Pelt

        If I have a little money I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.

        Whatever you can do, or believe you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. 
        —Johann Goethe

        Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
        —Calvin Coolidge

        Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
        —Arthur C. Clarke

        It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
        —Mark Twain

        It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.

        The vast majority of all human beings dislike and even dread all notions with which they are not familiar. Hence it comes about that at their first appearance, innovators have always been derided as fools and madmen.—Aldous Huxley

        During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
        —George Orwell

        Everything comes and goes, marked by lovers and styles of clothes.
        —Joni Mitchell

        • nj

          Last batch…

          When I examined myself and my methods of thought, I came to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.
          —Albert Einstein

          To do is to be. —J.P. Sartre
          To be is to do. —E. Kant
          Do be do be do. —F. Sinatra

          I think, therefore I am. —Descartes
          I think too much, therefore I am too much. —former co-worker Jane

          What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?
          —Jean Jacques Rousseau

          Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind, And the third is to be kind.
          —Henry James

          Delay is preferable to error.
          —Thomas Jefferson

          We sure liberated the hell out of this place!
          —American soldier in the ruins of a French village, 1944

          Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.
          —Henry David Thoreau

          I hear many condemn these men because they were so few. When were the good and the brave ever in a majority?
          —Henry David  Thoreau

          I rise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savour) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.
          —E.B. White

          America—a country that has leapt from barbarism to decadence without touching civilization.
          —John O’Hara

          I think it would be a good idea.
          —Mohandas Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization

          If everything is going well, you’ve obviously overlooked something.
          —Steven Wright

          What’s another word for Thesaurus?
          —Steven Wright

          The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.
          —Gregory Bateson

          Freedom is participation in power.

          To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice.

          The hottest places in hell are reserved for those, who in times or great moral crises, maintain their neutrality.
          —Dante Alighieri (attribution in dispute)

          God help us; we’re in the hands of engineers.
          —Dr. Ian Malcom, Jurassic Park, 1993

          Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear.
          —William Gladstone, four-time Prime Minister of Great Britain

          The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
          —Bertrand Russell

          Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.
          —Andre Gide

          Frankly, I’m suspicious of anyone who has a strong opinion of a complicated issue.
          —Scott Adams

          Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.
          —Ernest  Benn

          I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.
          —Will Rogers

          This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.
          —Will Rogers

          If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.
          —Dorothy Parker

          Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.
          —Winston Churchill

          No matter how cynical you get, it’s hard to keep up.
          —Lily Tomlin

          I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That’s the two categories. The horrible are like, I don’t know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don’t know how they get through life. It’s amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you’re miserable, because that’s very lucky, to be miserable. 
          —Alvy Singer (Woody Allen), in Annie Hall. 1977

  • Salzburg

    “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”  ~ Confucius”We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”  ~ Aristotle”Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” ~ Marcel Proust”Your imagination is your preview to life’s coming attractions.” ~ Albert Einstein”Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.” ~ Redd Foxx”Hope has two beautiful daughters - their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.”  ~ St. Augustine”There are two primary choices in life; to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” ~ Denis Waitley”Learn as if you were going to live forever. Live as if you were going to die tomorrow.”~ Mahatma Gandhi”Change your thoughts and you change your world.”  ~ Norman Vincent Peale”Life is what happens to you while your busy making plans.”  ~ John Lenon”Always doing the right thing even when nobody can see.”  ~ Amy Husarich”What comes out of you when you are squeezed is what is inside you.” ~ Wayne Dyer

  • http://bookofzo.blogspot.com Joshua Hendrickson

    So long as “quotations” here aren’t limited to spoken phrases but include song lyrics, dialogue/prose from books, poetry, etc., here are some relatively obscure examples that mean a lot to me.

    “It doesn’t matter if we all die.””There’s nowhere to go, we’re all in this, but nothing can hurt us at all.””Hopelessly fighting the devil futility.””The further we go, and older we grow, the more we know, the less we show.”—optimism and pessimism from Robert Smith”If God is Will, and Will is well, then what is ill? God still? Dew tell!”—Archibald Macleish”Cerebus doesn’t love you, he just wants all of your money.”—Dave Sim”Everybody knows the war is over, everybody knows the good guys lost.”—Leonard Cohen”The universe is not only queerer than we suppose, it is queerer than we can suppose.”—JBS Haldane”We not only can know everything, we already do–we just tell ourselves we don’t to make it all bearable.”—Neil Gaiman”All stories are true.”—Alan Moore

    • http://bookofzo.blogspot.com Joshua Hendrickson

      Hey … I put plenty of line-spaces between quotes, yet the formatting squished them all together into an unintelligible mass.  What gives?

      • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

        What gives is that the comment system, DISQUS is a POS.

        It doesn’t know what to do with line endings, even in plain text, that aren’t created in its comment field. It’s really stupid that way.

        I know why onPoint uses it (spam control and they can outsource the comment engine) but it really does suck. Of course, it could be worse, they could have decided to use the Facebook comment engine. Then many of us would have been really mad.

        Running a successful comment system takes constant moderation. It’s less the tool, more the attention onPoint gives it. Someone at onPoint should be watching this and looking at the back end of DISQUS to see if there are controls for importing text that they might loosen up to make it more possible to bring text in from plain text editors outside the system.

        • Tina

          Thanks, Richard, for the info!  I agree that I would have been upset if I had to go in thru Facebook; I believe that there is one NPR show, or some other great news site, that does use Facebook for their comment format, and so I don’t comment.  The amount of personal vigilance required to keep yourself safe is just rough enough already for me and for many friends who are not tech-naturals and who have many, many, many other concerns.  I like NPR; I don’t like Facebook, and hope I can continue to keep them separate, with one of them part of my life, and the other one NOT   part of it.  Thanks, again!
          P.S.:  when I hear that people are more interested in using their computers for social media rather than for searching for information with search engines, I also despair that critical mass may affect my ability to satisfy my curiosity about history and art, especially, as easily as Google has allowed….

      • Ellen Dibble

        Richard’s response is a welcome explanation, but the problem disappears if commenters know what’s happening.  When I imported some quotes and saw them squished, I went back in and reintroduced the line breaks, and then the quotes were just the way I wanted them.  Now I know why.  Another time I’ll put in self-introduced line breaks first time through.  I think I’m allowed to use the “edit” function because I’m posting through Disqus.

      • nj

        I’ve been having this problem for a while.

        When one cuts and pastes, or imports a pre-written document into the “Reply” window, it appears that the formatting—or at least the line-space formatting—disappears in the final version, even though everything looks okay when it’s being composed.

        Like Ellen says, in these cases, you have to put the line breaks in manually, even though the spacing appears in the composing window. 

        • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

          …and I would argue (and am) that this is a stupid problem with DISQUS, not with any of you who are copying and pasting.

          DISQUS should know if line endings have the MS Word cruft associated with them or not and strip it out. I save text as plain, unformatted text (not even RTF). The fact that it’s choking on my stuff means it’s not being very smart about what’s being pasted in.

          It’s probably a problem associated with its script for detecting numerous links so as to put up the security screen.

          Know that its your responsibility to strip stuff out that your writing tools are putting in. Copying and pasting from Word is a no no on the internet (and in most other places as well). However, saving a Word file out as plain text and copying from that should solve the problem. With DISQUS it doesn’t.

          • nj

            The problem occurred to me again, and i didn’t cut-and-paste/import anything. I was typing in the “Reply” window, and the line spacing didn’t register.

          • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

            What browser are you using nj? Maybe it has something to do with one’s browser’s capabilities in running whatever javascript stuff DISQUS is made of.

          • nj

            Safari 5.0.4 (Mac). Most of the time, typing directly into the “Reply” window, there’s no problem. Maybe one out of twenty or so, the line spaces disappear.

            All all the time when importing/cutting-and-pasting.

  • Steve

    I wash my sheets once a season, whether they need it or not.

    My buddy Ralph G.

  • Francis DeVine

    “The graveyards are full of indispensable men.”Charles de Gaulle
    “A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning.”Billie Jen King
    “If we are to keep democracy, there must be a commandment: Thou shalt not ration justice.”Learned Hand
    “There can be no security where there is fear.”Felix Frankfurter

    “A man has got to know his limitations.”
    Dirty Harry Callahan

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    “Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work. And then get elected and prove it.”

    - P.J. O’Rourke

    “Writers write; everyone else makes excuses.”

    - Jack Bickham

    “The quickest way to make money from photography is to sell your camera.”

    - Anonymous

    “It’s not the wand, but the magic you make with it, baby.”

    - Bob Sawyer

    “A beer in the hand is worth two in the fridge.”

    - Unknown but I’d like to think Dave Barry

    “The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all.”

    - G.K. Chesterton

    “The secret to happiness is not in doing what one likes to do, but in liking what one has to do.”

    - Ingrid Bergman

    “Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.”

    – Douglas Hofstadter

    “it’ll be a great day when education gets all the money it wants and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy bombers.”

    - Dr. Laurie Fais

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    A man in the house is worth two in the street.
    - Mae West

    Give a man a free hand and he’ll run it all over you.
    - Mae West

    I only like two kinds of men: domestic and foreign.
    - Mae West

    I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.
    - Mae West

    I’ve been in more laps than a napkin.
    - Mae West

    It is better to be looked over than overlooked.
    - Mae West

    It isn’t what I do, but how I do it. It isn’t what I say, but how I say it. And how I look when I do it and say it.
    - Mae West

    It’s hard to be funny when you have to be clean.
    - Mae West

    It’s not the men in my life that counts–it’s the life in my men.
    - Mae West

    Love conquers all things except poverty and toothache.
    - Mae West

    Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution.
    - Mae West

    One figure can sometimes add up to a lot.
    - Mae West

    To err is human–but it feels divine.
    - Mae West

    Too much of a good thing is wonderful.
    - Mae West

    When I’m good I’m good, but when I’m bad I’m better.
    - Mae West

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    I give up with DISQUS, here are a variety of collections from Fran Lebowitz, Groucho Marx, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Woody Allen, Josh Billings, George Bernard Shaw, Ambrose Bierce, Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, W.C Fields, Mae West, on cats, dogs, predictions, learning, women, and a collection of Proverbs.


    Feel free to lift them all (of course). Enjoy.

  • Ed

    The American Chesterton Society (Dale Ahlquist) has just come out with a collection of Chesterton quotes and sayings, excellent!!

    A mad man is not someone who has lost his reason, but someone who has lost everything except his reason.

    A fanatic is someone who believes more than I do.


  • TFRX

    “If you don’t go to somebody’s funeral, he won’t go to yours.” – Yogi Berra

  • LinP

    You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.–Wayne Gretzky

  • Anonymous

    Facts are stubborn things.
    – John Adams

    A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.
    –Richard the III

    I have good mind to join a club and hit you over the head with it.
    –Groucho Marx

    “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

    –Groucho Marx

    “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.”

    –Groucho Marx

    “I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.”

    — Groucho Marx

    “There ain’t no devil, only God when he’s drunk.”

    –Tom Waits

    “I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.”

    –Tom Waits

    “We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being
    confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and
    wealth with happiness.
    We are monkeys with money and guns.”

    –Tom Waits

  • Russell Griesmer

    “Draw a crazy picture. Write a nutty poem. Sing a mumble-gumble song. Whistle through your comb. Do a loony-goony dance across the kitchen floor. Put something silly in the world that ain’t been there before.”-Shel Silverstien 

  • Rob (in NY)

    What makes a quote great to me is whether it can inspire ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.    Because he is included in the program description and in my  opinion nobody better used the English language to inspire people, here is a selection of  my favorite Churchill quotes:

    “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall
    fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in
    the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never
    surrender. ”

    “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”. “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last”.
    “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and
    “If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable
    reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”
    “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a
    chance to get its pants on.”

    “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the

    “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities…
    because it is the quality which guarantees all others.” 

     “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”

    “If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect
    for the law.”

    ” The inherent vice of capitalism is the uneven division of blessings, while the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal division of misery”.”Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”. “We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.””The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter”

  • Yar

    I tell my children,
    You can have anything you want, if you know what to want.

  • Anonymous

    “Virtue is its own punishment” – Aneurin Bevan

  • Jasoturner

    What a spectacularly great idea for a show.  Kudos for whoever came up with it.

    “We have met the enemy, and he is us”

    Has Pogo’s line ever resonated more than today?

    • http://onpoint.wbur.org/about-on-point/sam-gale-rosen Sam Gale Rosen

      Also from Walt Kelly (via Porky Pine): “Don’t take life so serious, son. It ain’t nohow permanent.”

  • CS

    “Sous les paves la plage”

  • CS

    “Sous les paves la plage”

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? – Douglas Adams
    Food is an important part of a balanced diet. – Fran Lebowitz
    The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting. – Fran Lebowitz

    It is very, very easy not to be offended by a book. You just have to shut it. – Salman Rushdie 
    By all means let’s be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out. – Richard Dawkins 

  • Bluewater

    The fearless are merely fearless. People who act in spite of their fear are truly brave.
    -James LaFond-Lewis

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QME6C6XTBAYFEJP2GYDH3VQEMU Beat

    Winston Churchill said in WW2 that the Filipino soldier is the greatest warriors in the world. For it was they who resisted the Japanese invasion for more than 50 days with no hope of victory. These men only surrendered because they were ordered to. Filipinos has a long history of resisting invaders but with little success. They deserve the title for they fought all occupiers the only reason why they failed was lack of unity. The Philippine Army can beet any army if they only manage to have the same weapons and training that of more advanced nations. My Idol. He was one of a kind –

  • Anonymous

    You know what they say about procrastination? It gives you something to look forward to.

    I feel starved for great contemporary quotes. Today’s zeitgeist is polluted by non-stop streaming free association: coherent thought and cogent argument are drowned out by misleading messaging designed by marketers and an endless tsunami of mindless babble born of ADD nation.
    Yesterday’s imbeciles were no dumber than today’s; there’s just that many more of them. With the right’s power elite in control or broadcast media like Fox News and ‘reality TV’ being anything but real,  rather than being laughed off the stage, they are encouraged to say more and more outrageous things and too many people mistake this for tacit validation of their mythology.
    What Would Will Rogers Say? Would he find himself with too much material to work with?

  • jim

    But I am the divider!… i mean decider!

  • Bruce Frauman

    Happiness does not come from wanting to be somewhere else.  Happiness comes from finding beauty and a stimulation or interest in the everyday surroundings in which you find yourself.Gavin Pretor-PinneyFounder the Cloud Appreciation Society - Look up and Wonder

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Quotations are seductive, but the problem is that they are often taken out of context, when they aren’t outright false.  My students drop them into essays, as if they answer all needs.  I want a quotation book that gives its sources.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      Greg: I agree, without sourcing quotes are just social media telephoning. But, of course, even published books of quotations lack decent sourcing so there are problems all the way down.

      Who the heck knows what Ben Franklin really said?

  • Anonymous

    “It’s the economy stupid”
    –James Carville

  • Jim

    “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” – Benjamin Franklin

  • Anonymous

    How’s this:
    Talk: the movement of tongue and jaw that precedes inaction.

  • wauch

    How about this one from Wendel Berry
    “Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do”

  • steve

    “its a sobering thought that when Motzart was my age he had been dead for 3 years” Tom Lehrer 

  • Franklin Tucker

    “Après moi, le déluge” (“After me, the deluge”) 

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” – Benjamin Franklin

    That’s an example of what I meant.  Franklin didn’t say this.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      Greg: Right, he said:

      “Cannabis is proof…”

      Just kidding.

  • Tina

    The most frequent QUOTE at our kitchen table when we were kids, as quoted by our parents was:

    “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  – Thumper (from the movie, “Bambi”).

    Too bad a lot of politicians and pundits were not at our table.

  • Bob from Randolph, MA

    Someone once told me that time is a predator that stalks us all our lives.  But I rather believe that time is a companion that goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment because it will never come again.  What we leave behind is not as important as how we’ve lived.

    -Jean Luc Picard

  • Tim Cross

    One of my favorite quotations is from Edith Wharton.  Although she wrote it at the end of the 19th century, it still rings true today: 

    “It is one of the misfortunes of the present time that the most preposterously bad things often possess the powerful allurement of being expensive.”

  • Anonymous

    –or this:
    Beggar: an invisible man with a visible cup.

  • Bobl1234

    The insights advanced by ‘QUOTEWORTHY’ Quotes are being stripped of their insight; using them cheaply reduces them to today’s “Tats”.

  • Anonymous

    “It’s like a fart in a snow storm….   It’s all over the place.”

    I forget where I heard this but I laughed so hard because it’s so stupid.

  • Lynngaulin

    Helpful Misfortunes: I learn from all my failures,
    In later day I see
    It’s often my misfortunes
    That did the most for me.  from The Complete Cheerful Cherub by Rebecca McCann, 1932

  • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

    “The unexamined wife is not worth loving.”  –Socrates

    (Or something like that.)

  • Tom G

    My favorite- and most useful: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

  • Suzy

    My friend, Sue’s, mother used to say, “People have more fun than anybody!” Just silly, makes me laugh every time.

  • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

    Many memorable quotes take the form of Chiasmus.  Here is one:

    “I don’t entertain other people’s ideas.  Their ideas entertain me.”

  • Anonymous

    –or even this:
    Philanthropist: a misanthrope with discretionary income.

  • Ralph

    We are full of these superstitions of sense, the worship of magnitude. We call the poet inactive, because he is not a president, a merchant, or a porter. We adore an institution, and do not see that it is founded on a thought which we have. But real action is in silent moments. The epochs of our life are not in the visible facts of our choice of a calling, our marriage, our acquisition of an office, and the like, but in a silent thought by the way-side as we walk; in a thought which revises our entire manner of life, and says, — `Thus hast thou done, but it were better thus.’ And all our after years, like menials, serve and wait on this, and, according to their ability, execute its will. This revisal or correction is a constant force, which, as a tendency, reaches through our lifetime. The object of the man, the aim of these moments, is to make daylight shine through him, to suffer the law to traverse his whole being without obstruction, so that, on what point soever of his doing your eye falls, it shall report truly of his character, whether it be his diet, his house, his religious forms, his society, his mirth, his vote, his opposition. Now he is not homogeneous, but heterogeneous, and the ray does not traverse; there are no thorough lights: but the eye of the beholder is puzzled, detecting many unlike tendencies, and a life not yet at one.

  • Dave

    I find that ducks’ opinion of me is greatly influenced by whether or not I have bread- Mitch Hedburg

  • Bob, from Ipswich

    “A dog wags his tail with its heart”.  (Martin Buxbaum)

  • Jim

    One of my favorite quotes attributed to LBJ: “Do you want him in the tent pissing out OR out of the tent pissing in?” Jim

  • Nathan

    My favorite from Lily Tomlin:  “No matter how cynical you become, it will never be enough to keep up.”

  • Henry

    “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

  • Jim

    “Reports of my demise have been great exaggerated.” – Mark Twain in an telegram from London after hearing that U.S. newspapers were speculated that he had died abroad.

    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      Excellent context, thanks for that.

      “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”If you’re going to put it in quotation marks it’s a good idea to get it exactly right or as right as you can.Of course, there are questions about exactly how this sentence was really uttered since it went as viral as a sentence could go in those days. However, I’m pretty sure he used “greatly” not “great” and I’m sure he used “death” not “demise.”

  • Sam from New York

    “When news breaks, we fix it.”
    -Old Daily Show tag line

    “To redeem what is past, and to transform every ‘It was’ into ‘Thus would I have it!’–that only do I call redemption!”
    -Thus Spake Zarathustra
    By Friedrich Nietzsche

  • Stan Przybylinski

    I use several regularly:

    “Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny.” Frank Zappa”I yam what I yam and that’s all what I yam.” Popeye”I don’t care what color a guy is, as long as he’s cool.” Arthur Fonzarelli

  • Scooter

    “This must be a Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.”  Arthur Dent in Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

  • Anonymous

    The Godfather is full of great quotes. One of my favorites perfectly sums up the mafia’s curious mix of violence and family devotion and the banality of evil:

    “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”


  • Pam

    At the bottom of a V.P.’s email here at work:

    A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worthwhile.    – Herm Albright

  • Firechannel

    there are two things that are infinite, the universe and human stupidity and I am not sure about the first


    • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

      I love this quote. I have it as:

      “Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. I’m not sure about the former.”
      – Albert Einstein

  • Dave

    From Click and Clack, the Car Talk guys:
    If you don’t think too good, don’t think too much.

  • nj

    Well, since Jack brought it up…
    Sex on television can’t hurt you unless you fall off.—unknownBe naughty, save Santa a trip.—unknownThe difference between pornography and erotica is lighting.—Gloria LeonardSex is not the answer. Sex is the question. “Yes” is the answer.—Swami XTell him I’m too fucking busy. Or vice versa.—Dorothy ParkerIt’s been so long since I’ve had sex, Ive forgotten who ties up whom.—Joan RiversI know nothing about sex, because I was always married.—Zsa Zsa GaborAnybody who believes that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach flunked geography.—Robert Byrne

    • nj


      I typed these “from scratch” and still the line-spacing thing!

      • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

        Again, DISQUS is not the most stable or reliable comment engine. Let’s keep giving onPoint feedback… maybe they’ll dump it.

  • Karl

    Every excess causes a defect; every defect an excess. Every sweet hath its sour; every evil its good.

    You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”

  • St. Crispinian

    “Physics is like sex; sure, it may give some practical results, but that’s not why we do it.” -Richard Feynman


    “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they
    go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by
    one.” -Charles Mackay, 1841

    These go out on my emails.

  • Bo

    “Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.”–Criswell

  • Jim

    Another Tom Waits quote:

    “There is nothing kind about humankind”

  • Jim

    “May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live”  Irish origin?

  • AvidListner

    Sometimes you are ahead, sometimes you are behind. The race is long and in the end it is only with yourself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Herron/100002292141087 Steven Herron

    I wrote this quote while in college walking back to my dorm in the rain one Spring. I claim it as my own but I may have heard it somewhere. Please let me know if you believe it was coined by someone else. 

    “Let the rains of today wash the footprints of my past from the paths of my future.” 

    Steven Herron

  • Dana from Belmont

    As a writer, I begin each workday by first reading this bit of dialogue, tacked above my desk, from Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing”:

    “I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you’re dead.”

  • Danielle Aube

    probably already written here…
    Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to
    live forever.

    my favorite aside from many biblical quotes i like to live by :)

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Which book of the Bible did Gandhi write?

      • Danielle Aube

        what do you mean?
        i like that one IN ADDITION to many of the biblical quotes i like. for example:It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in Man
        Psalm 118:8 :)

      • Me

        the book of “republican”

  • Christa Hillhouse

    in “casablanca”, the quote is “you played it for her, you can play it for me”.

    my fave: “don’t lead me to temptation, i can find the way myself” – rita mae brown

  • Emily

    I love this one! “confront the dark parts of yourself with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel as a reminder of your strength.” Mary Anne radmacher from Emily in harvard ma

  • Will

    Sam Harris (philosopher, neuroscientist) “No society in history has ever suffered by being too rationale, too demanding of evidence and too skeptical of dogma”

  • Kate

    from May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude: “Not so easy to find a balance, for if one does not have wild dreams of achievement, there is no spur even to get the dishes washed.  One must think like a hero to behave like a merely decent human being.”

    • Deedee

      This book changed my life. Full of amazing wisdom but so sad…. Thanks for reminding me to reread it!

  • GailIngrum

    A quote I often used to back up my views when I was teaching earth science is from Werner von Braun:  “Science and religion are not incompatible.  In science we try to learn more about the Creator.  In religion we try to learn more about creation.  Must we light a candle to see the sun?  The more we learn of the intricacies of creation, the more we must marvel at the Creator.”
    I love the quote from Emily Dickinson that my daughter had on her refrigerator as she taught her DC public school students and battled metastatic melanoma:  “Dwell in possibility”.  She lost her battle at age 32, but I remember the quote as I go on with my life and face the negativism from all sides these days.
    My grandmother could quote her favorite Bible verse at age 101 when she recognized no one: “Lean not on your own understanding.  Acknowledge Him in all thy ways and He will direct Thy paths.”  Then she would smile and say, “That’s a pretty good one, don’t you think?”Proverbs 3:5,6

  • Samuel Fieldman

    Albert Einstein: “God does not play dice with the universe.”

    Neils Bohr: “Stop telling god what to do.”

    -Bohr-Einstein debate. Bohr won.

  • Stephanie

    “They say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself” -Andy Warhol

  • Harphonker

    “when I nod my head, you hit it.”

    – Moe Howard (The Three Stooges)

  • Harphonker

    “when I nod my head, you hit it.”

    – Moe Howard (The Three Stooges)

  • Anonymous

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Churchill could flatter with the best of them:

    “The famous phrase Blood, toil, tears and sweat was first uttered on 2 July 1849 by Giuseppe Garibaldi when rallying his revolutionary forces in Rome. Theodore Roosevelt also uttered the phrase in an address to the Naval War College on June 2, 1897, following his appointment as Assistant Secretary of the Navy.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood,_toil,_tears_and_sweat

  • Anonymous

    The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast. – Oscar Wilde

  • Steve

    “Good judgement comes from experience, most of which comes from bad judgement.”

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    It’s especially bad when ideas that we support get put into the mouths of historical figures that we are supposed to respect.  It distorts our views and theirs.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    It’s especially bad when ideas that we support get put into the mouths of historical figures that we are supposed to respect.  It distorts our views and theirs.

  • Olsmxl

    and – all those quotes/refrains from other languages…some that are so poignant.  One of my favorites Tu as rate l’opportunite de te taire.  “You missed the opportunity to remain silent”

  • Paul Ryan

    Hi Tom,  Two of them: “Action can kill any fear and replace it with confidence.” Henry Ford (partial): “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. ” 

  • Judith

    “Life is truly a ride. We’re all strapped in and no one can stop it. When the doctor slaps your behind, he’s ripping your ticket and away you go. As you make each passage from youth to adulthood to maturity, sometimes you put your arms up and scream, sometimes you just hang on to that bar in front of you. But the ride is the thing. I think the most you can hope for at the end of life is that your hair’s messed, you’re out of breath, and you didn’t throw up.” — Jerry Seinfeld

  • Anonymous

    Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit. – Oscar Wilde

  • Paul from Boston

    My favorite quotation, the source of which I can’t attribute:

    “De gustibus non disputandum est.” = “Concerning tastes, there is no dispute…” = “To each her own.”

  • Duxyak

    Ralph Waldo Emerson: “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”

  • Pedram8442

    “Anyone looking for confirmation will find enough of it to deceive himself – and no doubt his peers.*

    * It is also naive empiricism to provide, in support of some argument, series of eloquent confirmatory quotes by dead authorities. By searching, you can always find someone who made a well-sounding statement that confirms your point of view — and, on every topic, it is possible to find another dead thinker who said the exact opposite. Almost all of my non-Yogi Berra quotes are from people I disagree with.”

    ~ “The Black Swan” by Nassim N. Taleb

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QME6C6XTBAYFEJP2GYDH3VQEMU Beat

    In order to see the past you should look at the future.

  • Bruce

    My understanding is that the “cake” Marie Antoinette refers to is the remains on the side and bottom of an oven after bread has been baked.

    Whether she said it or not, it gives the meaning new perspective.  

  • Sheb White

    I always liked this quote from a Issaic Asimov novel ” Violance is the last refuge of the incompetent” this seems to fit whats happening in the Arab world today.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp


    Yes, we can know the screenwriter!

  • rocco on the left bank

    “Don’t take any shit from anybody”

  • Adam Shopis

    How about conflated quotes?

    “Out, out damned spot” –Out damned spot + Out Out brief candle–
    Lamenting lost youth combined with attempting to expunge guilt.

    Also, appended quotes…
    “Alas, poor Yorik.  I knew him well.”  
    The word “well” was not in the original.

    • nj

      I spilled some spot remover on my dog. Now he’s gone.
      —Steven Wright

  • Mr. D

    If women ruled the world we’d have Peace on Earth. We’d still be living in caves, but we’d have Peace on Earth  (Glenn R. Davis)

  • Lynn

    My dad: “Don’t be a bell-pusher.”

  • Bob, from Ipswich

    “Share knowledge, you can always get more.” (unknown author)

  • Anonymous

    I use Cesar Chavez’s great quote:

    “Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Colin-Buckley/100000867530967 Colin Buckley

    Two film quotes that are always misquoted: Mae West’s “Come up and see me sometime” and Jean Harlow’s “Mind if I slip into something more comfortable?” What Mae actually said was “Why don’t you come up sometime, and see me” Jean said, “Would you be terribly shocked if I slipped into something more comfortable?”

  • Sam from New York

    “Let them eat cake, what does that even mean?”
    -Marie Antoinette character from the film by Sophia Copola

  • Gongu Greg

    Not original with Archie Bunker – Mark Twain said “Faith is when you believe something you know it isn’t true.”

    • Walker

      “Faith is believing in something you know ain’t so.” are Twain’s exact words.

  • Mike

    “90 percent of all putts you leave short don’t go in” … Hubert Green.

  • Ed Epstein

    silence is good for the wise and even better for the stupid

  • Ellen Dibble

    Lapidarily quotable?  I like the word too, because it stems tangibly from ancient reality.  Take dilapidated, meaning the stones are coming off the fortress or wall or whatever.  A dilapidated writing style might seem smoothed over to the extent there are no bits you can get a grip on, all politeness, all polished and smoothed over.  Or take lapis lazuli, stone of lazuli, a word that resonates far.  Quotes are like the stones in a New England stone wall.  You can lift them, throw them, nudge them into place.

  • Litekeep

    Something I live (without question we all live this) and observe, “Common Sense is not so common”, has been attributed to Voltare.

  • Rich from Stamford

    A human being should be able to
    change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a
    building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort
    the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations,
    analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal,
    fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

    -Robert A. Heinlein

  • Emily

    MISQUOTING FOR POLITICAL REASONS: Eisenhower actually said to beware of the “military-industrial-congressional complex” and the “congressional” was left off the quote.  I believe that’s an example of a misquote for political reasons, to not implicate congress in the corruption of defense contracting etc.  Very important misquote that few people are aware of.

    Emily in Boston

  • Anonymous

    I think this idea of a character quote is exemplified by the numerous great quotations from The Big Lebowski. The Dude and other characters make the quotes so quotable, not necessarily the screen writers. From “The Dude abides” to “You’re out of your element Donnie” and “The rug really tied the room together” to “Ah, you know, strikes and gutters.” I could go on with Lebowski quotes all day- they really make you feel better!

  • Dave B

    I like quotes because sometimes people say something in a way that you might have known but havent’ been able to distill to a few sentences. Not always quippy, but sometimes the wisdom that shines through.  Politician John W. Gardner is one of my favorites.

    “Political extremism involves two prime ingredients: an excessively simple diagnosis of the world’s ills, and a conviction that there are identifiable villains back of it all. “

  • Suzy

    “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -Eleanor Roosevelt.

    “Maybe the hokey-pokey is what it’s all about.”-unknown

  • Tom Baehr

    Harlan Hatcher, president of the University of Michigan in the ’60s, told incoming freshmen, “Don’t let Monday come around without having done your homework.” 

    Not terribly memorable. Another contemporary quote, which I lived by then: “Don’t let your studies interfere with your education.”

    Tom Baehr

    • peter

      I like this one.

      If 2.0 wasn’t good enough it wouldn’t be passing”

  • Robert Nickerson

    My favorite quote for its audacity is Churchill’s reply to a Duchess who said “Winston, you are drunk.”  His answer was “Lady, you are ugly. Tomorrow I will be sober.”

    • TFRX

      “If I were your wife, I’d poison your tea.”

      I forget who offered this line, but Churchill responded, “If you were my wife, I would drink it.”

  • Elaine Washburn Shiber

    quotes: I do not ‘collect’ them, but while I’m writing, I every once in
    a while recall one that helps me make a point in the text. As I write
    about human rights violations and how people can become active in
    correcting them, probably the one I use most frequently is: “Our Lives
    begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”, by MLK
    Jr. Elaine Washburn Shiber, Kentucky

  • Sam from New York

    “You have two rights, the right to break the law and the right to go to jail for it.”
    -Lawrence Fishburne as Thurgood Marshall relating something he said to Martin Luther King about civil disobedience-from the play Thurgood

  • Bill Ryan

    On seeing an old girlfriend enter a restaurant where he was dining with an older man, Paul Desmond the great jazz saxophonist said,” So this is how the world ends, not with a whim but a banker.”

  • Echo Delta

    remember when Ronald Reagan said “trees cause pollution”

  • Bree Cusanno

    “Hadn’t I, always, but ever and ever, thought that life was just one great risk for the living?”
    — Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
    “For the organized mind death is but the next great adventure.” — Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
    “Youth is wasted on the young.”
    - It’s a Wonderful Life
    “Who ain’t a slave? Tell me that.”
    -Moby Dick
    “I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote”
    -Moby Dick
    “Methinks that in looking at things spiritual, we are too much like
    oysters observing the sun thru water, and thinking the thick water the
    thinnest of air.”
    -Moby Dick
    “My dear sir, i this world it is not so easy to settle these plain
    things. I have ever found your plain things the knottiest of all.”(applicable to the comment on Yogi Berra quotes)
    -Moby Dick
    “When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul, lends the tongue to vows.
    These blazes daughter, giving more light than heat, extinct in both even
    in their promise as it is a-making, you must not take for fire.”
    “All this happened, more or less.” -Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five
    “Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.”
    -F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
    “And I hope she’ll be a fool- that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”
    -F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
    “How can you distinguish people when everyone pretends to be the same?”
    -Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections

  • AvidListner

    Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes
    you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with

    Baz Luhrmann

    • Ellen Dibble

      This is pretty seditious, whoever Baz Luhmann is.  Doesn’t the social hierarchy depend on manipulating people by jealousy, and  by teaching a certain amount of judgmentalism (one of the posts above is about starting life “pretty judgmental”), and I’m thinking between envy, jealousy, and judgmental tendencies, we maybe start with that set of prickly attitudes, fitting right in with the established ladders.  Is that because of schools, advertising, family/culture, or purely human genetics?  Lots of the quotes here are bits of rebellion, attitude-wise.  Comical, intellectual, non-intellectual, recreating the inner landscapes.

  • rocco in cambridge

    Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.


  • George

    Muddy Waters was a font of great quotes. My favorite: ‘I aint dying, but Im not feeling so good.’

  • Brenda

    must not forget Shakespeare… started my young adult life quite judgmental until I found this quote by Shakespeare, “Nothing’s neither good not bad but thinking makes it so”.

    • peter

      A few more from the bard.

      Nothing comes from nothing. 

      The best men are molded out of faults.

      Ripeness is all.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp


  • Trusted Advisor

    I will not be governed by the tyranny of immediacy- Mary Anne Radmacher

  • Joe Dullea

    “Many are cold, but few are frozen.” My favorite from my Sainted Mother.

  • Lindsey

    “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.” ~ Voltaire

  • Edward from Milton, MA

    I was watching David Letterman   when Madonna said she pees in the shower and that it’s good for athletes foot. Dave said “can’t you just use some Cruex?”, which was “corrected” in quotes the next day as “can’t you just use some Desenex?”

  • Jim

    Seen (many times )on a sausage seller’s cart outside of Fenway Park. Not sure what it means but I like it:  “See the food. Be the Food.”

    • Ben

      Maybe it has something to do with: “You are what you eat.”

  • Lydia

    I’m thinking about the “familiar but little-known family quotations” which were always current in my family: quotes from old family stories, from stories that got read aloud, snippets from this and that.  I think they were about maintaining and celebrating a kind of family culture: sort of a shared exclusive language of references.  Maybe this is part of why quotations have such power in a society?

  • Roblipton

    from Renoir’s rules of the game ” the worst thing about you people is that you all have a reason”  perhaps the most damning statement I’ve heard from the 20th century.

  • TreeRoom

    Duke Ellington’s last words (supposedly)

    More kisses!

  • Anonymous

    –or perhaps possibly maybe:

    Human being: a fruit or vegetable with animal aspirations and a mineral destiny.

  • Lindsey from Natick

    “The great end of life is not knowledge but action.” ~ Thomas H. Huxley

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anderson-Davies/100000512999050 Anderson Davies

      Why did she marry then?

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Her goldfish got a bicycle?

  • Lindsey from Natick

    “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” ~Gloria Steinem

  • Shaun

    Yesterday I ran across the “Grooks” of Danish polymath  Piet Hein (he wrote thousands).

    THE ETERNAL TWINSTaking fun as simply funand earnestness in earnestshows how thoroughly thou noneof the two discernest.

  • Edward from Milton, MA

    “to be well-dressed, you must first be well naked” Oscar de la Renta

  • nj

    Best show of the year!

    • Modavations

      Hallelujah(?).We finally agree on something

      • nj

        Uh oh. I may have to go in for a check-up.

  • Karen

    I worked with educators sharing methods and ideas to engage the learners across all subject areas.  Many of the educators felt personally sad as to the numbers of students they had taught who were “victims” of the stand and deliver methodology.  I always ended the training with Maya Angelou’s quote, “You did what you knew how to do.  And when you knew better you did better.”  That quote has allowed me to personally reflect on my daily life and move forward “doing better.”

  • Cammartin824

    My father-in-law used to say – “sure, 50% 50% – one horse one rabbit!” to refer to an unfair deal.

  • http://profiles.google.com/siremick Scott Remick

    Did I hear you attribute “I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night” to Galileo? It’s actually from a poem by Sarah Williams titled “The Old Astronomer to His Pupil”

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Too many chiefs and not enough Indians–there, may you children read this.  I’ve thought that one in most every job I’ve had.

  • Wendy from Newton, Ma.

    I live by this quote from Samuel Beckett:

    “No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

  • Suzy

    A classic from my family of origin-we were 11 kids on vacation. Mom managed to round us up for a family picture. She was feeling grumpy (and no doubt exhausted) and just before clicking the camera said to us, “Smile, damn it!”. We love to quote that.

  • Sam from New York

    “There are 10 kinds of people in the world, those who understand binary, and those who don’t.”

    • Pmsbiker

      there are 3 kinds of people in the world; those who can count and those who can’t

      • Ben

        for those who have never taken number theory:

        10 = 2 in binary

  • Piltdown Man

    “It’s not true, they didn’t come anywhere near my tabloids.”

    My favorite quote, which William Powell, in the character of Nick Charles speaks in “The Thin Man.”  Don’t know if the line is in Dash Hammitt’s original book or not….

  • Pam

    My dad often said:

    Sometimes when you open a can of worms, the only way to get them back in is to use a bigger can.

  • James Erard

    In my family, my father would flaunt his classical education and mention quotes in Latin and Greek, especially to get HIS point across. Over the years, I’ve asked others with Latin experience about “Quod leech it yovi, non leech it bovi.” (sp?) meaning “what is good for god is not good for man.” It turns out to be a VERY loose translation.

  • Jasoturner

    John Doe:

    We all get what we deserve.  Eventually.

  • Karinbergsagel

    Galileo Galilei did NOT say “I’ve loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” though iot is widely attributed to him online.

    It is from a wonderful poem, The Old Astronomer, by the British poet Sarah Williams: “Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”

  • Katherine

    “You don’t have to believe everything you think”!

  • Sam from New York

    “I get the ball, I throw the ball, I take a shower.”
    -Mariano Rivera, on his job description.

  • James

    To Assume makes an ass out or u and me

    • Anonymous

      I hate this one.  It is as bad as there is no I in team.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        But there is an “I” in victory…

      • k3po

        The correct response to which is, there is no U in team, either. 

      • Eddiebax

        Or, as one employer told me, “there is no “i” in team, and there is no “u” in next job”.

  • Nancy Kalre

    There are always two reasons for doing something–the good reason and the real reason.

    There are two kinds of fools in the world–those who rush out and meet trouble more than half way and those who hide and hope trouble will pass them by

  • Joey Horsley

    My recent blog, 
    Old Hat – What’s That? or: Old expressions never die; they just fade away.
    deals with the themes of this hour. It’s at 
    Joey Horsley

  • Scott Gralheer

    “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind” 
    Albert Einstein  I find it interesting especially today with the current political climate and the “shrimp on a treadmill” focus

  • Mayacb3

    Emma Goldman: If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.

  • Ommensah

    I don’t remember where I read this but i like it.

    “in a supporting a policy, you are writing a blank check for which future event will write your name on”

  • Jasoturner

    Bitterness is the result of life not conforming to one’s rigid expectations.

    Unless I unconsciously stole that, I believe it to be mine.

  • Sam

    “I like the bible… I like it as a book, like the Cat in the Hat.”
    -Marilyn Manson on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher

  • Jaabda

    A goal without a deadline is just a wish!

  • Anonymous

    then, too–

    Thought: the chief impediment to speech.

  • http://twitter.com/bhars Brad Harris

    “People tell you who they are, but we ignore it. Because we want them to be who we want them to be.” -Don Draper

    • Manymargaritas

      Also…” When people show you who they are, believe them.”-Maya Angelou

  • Deedee in Dedham, MA

    Loved the program! Although not QUITE quotations, the following sayings (paraprosdokians) were recently sent to me by a friend:

    PARAPROSDOKIAN: “A figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently used in a humorous situation.”  For example, “Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.”
    1. Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
    2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on my list.
    3. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
    4. If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
    5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
    6. War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
    7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
    8. Evening news is where the newscaster begins with ‘Good Evening,’ and then proceeds to tell you why it isn’t.
    9. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
    10. A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.
    11. I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted pay checks. 12. Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says, ‘In case of emergency please notify:’ ……….I put in ‘DOCTOR.’
    13. I didn’t say it was your fault, I said that I was blaming you.
    14. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.
    15. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
    16. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.
    17. I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked forforgiveness.
    18. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
    19. Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
    20. There’s a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can’t get away.
    21. I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.
    22. You’re never too old to learn something stupid.
    23. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
    24. Nostalgia just isn’t what it used to be.
    25. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
    26. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
    27. A diplomat is someone who tells you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip.
    28. Hospitality is making your guests feel at home even though you wish they were.
    29. I always take life with a grain of salt. Plus a slice of lemon, and a shot of tequila.
    30. When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.

    And finally, an attibutable quote: “The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” ~ Jon Hammond

  • Serpophaga

    Push the envelope of sanity.  Just don’t lick it.

    -Adam, California

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Emílio-Matos/100002393811839 Emílio Matos

    Porfirio Diaz – “Poor Mexico, So Far From God, So Close To The United States”

    Great quote, not necessarily true however.

    • Cuevasufw

      I’d agree with Diaz reflecting on the history of US relationship to Mexico (and Latin America)

  • Anonymous

    “Those who lack imagination cannot imagine what is lacking”
    -France 1968

  • Michele

    Wherever you go, there you are. – Buckaroo Bonzai.  Simplistic on the surface but very thought provoking.

    • Ed

      “Are we there yet?”  The answer is always no.  We’re never there; we’re always here.

    • Perullamafarm

      Very Bhuddistesque

  • Quigley

    “depends on what the meaning of is is” Paraphrase of Bill Clinton famous philosopher 

  • Steve

    ” There are three kinds of people in the world: Those who can do math and those who can’t”

    • Modavations

      Most righteous,can I use it?

  • Erika Romer

    Great show on great quotations! “We cannot give what we do not have, and we cannot teach what we do not remember” Patricia Selbert, The House of Six Doors

  • http://www.facebook.com/caroladingle Carol Dingle

    “Malice is only another name for mediocrity.”
    –Patrick Kavanaugh

  • Modavations

    And so it goes.
    Kurt V.
    I still say it to myself.

  • Ed

    Quantum Mechanics:  The dreams stuff is made of.

    Time flies like an arrow.
    Fruit flies like a banana.

    Never trust a spiritual leader who can’t dance.

    Time’s fun when you’re having flies. –Kermit

    There’s no hope.  (But I could be wrong.)

    Things that have never happened before happen all the time.

    Trying to express an idea in words is like trying to make a tree out of lumber.

    We need to keep the status quo as it is.

    The US will always do the right thing–after exhausting all the alternatives.

    I’m going to make it through this year if it kills me!

    • Zing

      Time is what keeps everything from happening all at once. – unknown

      • Walker

        That was Einstein.  And Emily Dickinson has something similar to it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/caroladingle Carol Dingle

    “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.”
    –Albert Einstein

    • Zing

      So Einstein knew what the Tea Party would face decades before…amazing

      • NjMagnum

        Excellent expression of Tea Party riotousness…. Too bad Tea Bags would hate Einstein. He’s a pacifist.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Diana-J-Dell/762988497 Diana J. Dell

    “Brevity is the soul of lingerie.”
    –Dorothy Parker

    • Zing

      Lingerie leads to brevity – me

  • Anonymous

    “I find that if you just talk your mouth comes up with stuff”
    -Karl Pilkington

    “You won’t get anything done by planning”
    -Karl Pilkington 

  • Zing

    The homeless are intense.  – Me

  • Zing

    Everything Obama says is a great quote as he holds the mike and addresses an imaginary 20th row.  Problem is, his base no longer wants to hear or believes it.  To me that’s great.

    • NjMagnum

       At least it’s factual. Not propaganda….

  • http://www.facebook.com/caroladingle Carol Dingle

    “Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.”
    –Anne Sexton

  • Zing

    ” Call me anything; just don’t call me late for dinner.” attributed to Michael Moore

    • Holdingpattern

      Right — If Michael Moore were George Burns

  • Tim Manzer

    May the hair on Bilbo’s toes never fall out! All praise to his wine and ale!’ ~Thorin

  • Tim

    demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I
    can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor.”
    Thomas Jefferson

  • Anonymous

    “All fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient and
    venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones
    become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into
    air, all that is holy is profaned …”
    -Karl Marx

  • Katie

    “the ones that matter don’t care and the ones who care don’t matter”

    • Jodi

      I believe it’s actually the opposite:

      “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”-Dr. Seuss

  • Steve

    Hunter S Thompson

    “When the going gets weird the weird turn pro”

    Steve from Madison WI

    • Steve

      H S Thompson

      Today’s pig is tomorrow’s bacon.

      Steve in Massachusetts

  • Cnaoum

    Best quote – “Peoples is Peoples” from Muppets take Manhattan

  • Debbie

    “Be curious, not judgmental.”– Walt Whitman
    One of my personal favorites.

  • Matthew

    To Alcohol, The cause of -and solution to- to all of life’s problems. – Homer Simpson

  • Daniel Slant

    “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” -Albert Einstein

    • nj

      “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
      —Dr. Seuss

  • Cuevasufw

    one of my favorites by Chicana scholar and writer, Gloria Anzaldua: “I change myself, I change the world”. The context implies that with knowledge and critical thinking, you can make a difference…

    • e.

      wow, thanks for mentioning gloria. i met her at a writing workshop many years ago and still have the amazing book she co-edited, “this bridge called my back.”

  • Dee Dee

    a Mexican folk saying (roughly interpreted): “tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are”

  • at

    There are two kinds of people in the world.
    The kind of people who think there are two kind of people in the world
    and the other kind of people who think there are two kind of people in the world. — Carlos Dwa

    • ShingaliniBamoose

      “Ask not for whom the bell curves . . .”
      Also Carlos Dwa

  • Giffin Laura

    Philosophy can be made out of anything. Or less. – Jerry Fodor.

    PType your comment here.

  • Eddiebax

    There are three types of people in this world: those who can count, and those who cannot.

  • Conner44

    “They call it the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

    “And they are coming for your social security, yeh, their gonna take it all, and give it to their criminal friends on Wall St.”

    George Carlin

    • CommaCommaDo

      first one is like the quote of the decade fer sure

  • David Ross

    It’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from here.

  • Nightandday

    My vote goes to Henry James, who said: “Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language”

    • Anonymous

      wish my friend who died on June 26 had been here to enjoy this gorgeous summer.  Thanks for the quote. 

  • Lorie

    “It is when we think of the world the aesthetic of indifference might bring into being that we recognize the urgency of remembering the stories we have not written.”  (Amitav Ghosh)

  • Rory

    Quotations”To the students, I address this appeal. Reject these attitudes. Reject the values and false morality that underlie these attitudes. A rat race is for rats. We’re not rats. We’re human beings. Reject the insidious pressures in society that would blunt your critical faculties to all that is happening around you, that would caution silence in the face of injustice lest you jeopardise your chances of promotion and self-advancement. This is how it starts, and before you know where you are, you’re a fully paid-up member of the rat-pack. The price is too high. It entails the loss of your dignity and human spirit. Or as Christ put it, ‘What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?’”- Jimmy Reid

  • http://twitter.com/mofycbsj Brian

    “Anyone can handle adversity. If you really want to test a man’s character, give him power.” -Abraham Lincoln

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  • Cwelling

    Here’s a recent favorite of mine:

    “The trouble with internet quotes is that so many are wrong”

    Abraham Lincoln

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  • Wyatt

    They say that Patriotism is a last refuge to which a scoundrel clings. Steal a little and they throw you in jail. Steal a lot and they make you king.  
    –Bob Dylan

  • Kevhix42

    The two kinds of people quote is from Tom Robbin’s Still Life With Woodpecker

  • salzburg

    Do the right thing even when nobody else can see.  ~ (what I repeat to my boys)”Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”  ~ Confucius”We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”  ~ Aristotle”Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” ~ Marcel Proust”Your imagination is your preview to life’s coming attractions.” ~ Albert Einstein”Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.” ~ Redd Foxx”Hope has two beautiful daughters - their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.”  ~ St. Augustine”There are two primary choices in life; to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” ~ Denis Waitley”Learn as if you were going to live forever. Live as if you were going to die tomorrow.”~ Mahatma Gandhi”Change your thoughts and you change your world.”  ~ Norman Vincent Peale”Life is what happens to you while your busy making plans.”  ~ John Lenon””What comes out of you when you are squeezed is what is inside you.” ~ Wayne Dyer

  • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

    An iGoogle account holders can use the Do Good Gauge Randomizer to randomly select from some 1500 quotes of wisdom collected over a five year period to help describe a democratic media for civil discourse.   Each quote provides link to a Wikipedia biography of the quotes author.  

  • Marek

    Well my mom just to said to me, “If it does not kill you. males you fat”

  • Walker

    Harriet Tubman: “I freed a thousand slaves; I would have freed a thousand more if they only knew they were slaves.”

  • Heaviest Cat

    Blessed are they who sit on a tack for the shall rise again.

  • Anonymous

    Too often we… enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. ~ JFK

  • syedm

    Quotes are fun to read but it seems that we use to them to sound smarter but we don’t try to think for ourselves and make our own quotes? Any input?

  • marygrav

    Can’t get any sound on either hour one or two online.  What’s going on, or is it this MAC?

  • marygrav

    If we must die, let it not be like hogsHunted and penned in an inglorious spot,While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,Making their mock at our accursèd lot.If we must die, O let us nobly die,So that our precious blood may not be shedIn vain; then even the monsters we defyShall be constrained to honor us though dead!O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!What though before us lies the open grave?Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back! 

    Claude McKay—Winston Churchill was given credit for this poem that was written by Claude McKay.  I never could understand why people got on Joe Biden for Plagiarizing when Churchill did it before him and got praises for this famous ditty.

Sep 1, 2014
This Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 photo shows a mural in in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago dedicated to the history of the Pullman railcar company and the significance for its place in revolutionizing the railroad industry and its contributions to the African-American labor movement. (AP)

On Labor Day, we’ll check in on the American labor force, with labor activist Van Jones, and more.

Aug 29, 2014
Beyoncé performs at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday, August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Getty)

Sex, power and Beyoncé’s feminism. The message to young women.

Aug 29, 2014
Ukrainian forces guard a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council and canceled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that "Russian forces have entered Ukraine," as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.  (AP)

War moves over Syria, Ukraine. Burger King moves to Canada. Nine-year-olds and Uzis. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: August 29, 2014
Friday, Aug 29, 2014

On hypothetical questions, Beyoncé and the unending flow of social media.

More »
Drew Bledsoe Is Scoring Touchdowns (In The Vineyards)
Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

Football great — and vineyard owner — Drew Bledsoe talks wine, onions and the weird way they intersect sometimes in Walla Walla, Washington.

More »
Poutine Whoppers? Why Burger King Is Bailing Out For Canada
Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

Why is Burger King buying a Canadian coffee and doughnut chain? (We’ll give you a hint: tax rates).

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