"Stronger than an army is a quotation whose time has come."

W.E. Gates


"A good maxim is never out of season."

"The maxims of men disclose their hearts."

French proverb

"Maxims are the condensed good sense of nations."



"I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognizably wiser than oneself."

-Marlene Dietrich


"Whatever is well said by another, is mine."



"Stay at home in your mind. Don't recite other people's opinions."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson



"A certain awkwardness marks the use of borrowed thoughts;  but as soon as we have learned what to do with them, they become our own."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson



"He is a benefactor of mankind who contracts the great rules of life into short sentences, that may be easily impressed on the memory, and so recur habitually to the mind."

-Samuel Johnson


"To be occasionally quoted is the only fame I care for."

-Alexander Smith


"I quote others only the better to express myself."

0Michel de Montaigne


"Quotations when engraved upon the memory give you good thoughts."

-Winston Churchill



"Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language."

-Samuel Johnson


"Be careful,-with quotations you can damn anything."

-Andre Malraux


"Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson



"The short sayings of wise and good men are of great value. They are like the dust of gold or the sparkle of the diamond."



"I hate quotations. "*


*(actually Emerson had a quite different private opinion. Taking up the topic "Quotation and Originality" in his journal he wrote: "The quoter's selection honors & celebrates the author....And originality, what is that? It is being; being somebody, being yourself & reporting accurately what you see & are. If another's words describe your fact, use them as freely as you use the language & the alphabet, whose use does not impair your originality....Emerson quoted his aunt Mary for most of his creative life. His Aunt Mary delighted in the superiority of another mind as her "best gift from God.")


"The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him."

-Robert Benchley


"Borrowed thoughts, like borrowed money, only show the poverty of the borrower."

-Marguerite Gardiner


"A witty saying proves nothing."



"They have a really idiotic effect on me. All I have to do is see a quotation printed somewhere-it doesn't matter what sort of nonsense it is; something like,’ Gentlemen, in fifty years Swiss cheese will bring forty-nine shillings a pound.-Ruskin, and I start feeling an idiotic glow, like the first sip from a martini or something."

J.R. Salamanca

A Sea Change


"Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for."



"A collector of quotations inevitably has some of the Qualities of the parasite, feeding off the labors of others."

Nancy McPhee

The Book of Insults



"Some for renown, on scraps of learning dote,/and think they grow

immortal as they quote. "

Edward Young


"He wrapped himself in quotations-as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of Emperors."

-Rudyard Kipling


"The use of proverbs is characteristic of an unlettered people. They are invaluable treasures to dunces with good memories."

-John Hay 1871


"The wisdom of the wise and the experience of the ages are perpetuated by quotation."



"You could compile the worst book in the world entirely out of selected passages from the best writers in the world."

G.K. Chesterton


"I always have a quotation for everything-it saves original thinking."

-Dorothy Sayers


"It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations….The quotations , when engraved upon the memory, give you good thoughts. They also make you anxious to read the authors and look for more."

Winston Churchill


"I might repeat to myself, slowly and


a list of quotations beautiful from

minds profound;

if I can remember any of the damn


Dorothy Parker


"Life itself is a quotation."

Jorge Luis Borges


"The wisdom of the wise, and the experience of ages, may be preserved by quotation."

Isaac D’ Israeli (1766-1848)


"When one begins to live by habit and by quotations, one has begun to stop living."

James Baldwin


"The Wisdom of nations lies in their proverbs. Collect and learn them, for they are notable directions for human life. They save time in speaking, and you have much in little."

William Penn (Advice to his children)


"Quotations (such as have point and lack triteness) from the great old authors are an act of filial reverence on the part of the quoter, and a blessing to a public grown superficial and external."

Louise Imogen Guiney

Scribners Mag-Jan 1911



"All truth is old, and only poets, liars, and fools can be

original . "



"There are expressions and bulls-eyes of the spirit, there are epigrams, a little handful of words, in which a whole culture, a whole society is suddenly crystallized."



"The short sayings of wise and good ,men are of great value.

They are like the dust of gold or the sparkle of the diamonds."




The wisdom of the wise and the experience of the ages are perpetuated by quotation."



"Misquotation is, in fact, the pride and privilege of the learned. The widely read man never quotes accurately, for the obvious reason that he has read too widely."

Hesketh Pearson

Common Misquotations


"A great man quotes bravely, and will not draw on his invention when his memory serves him with a word as good-what he quotes he fills with his own voice and humor, and the whole cyclopedia of his table-talk is presently believed to be his own."



"That’s the point of quotations, you know: one can use another’s words to be insulting."

Amanda Cross



"Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language."

Samuel Johnson


"The profoundest thought on passion sleeps as in a mine, until an equal mind and heart finds and publishes it."

Ralph Waldo Emerson


"The power of quotation is as dreadful a weapon as any which the human intellect can forge."

John Jay Chapman


"Have you ever observed that we pay much more attention to a wise passage when it is quoted, than when we read it in the original author?"

Phillip G. Hamerton


"One must never miss an opportunity of quoting things by others which are always more interesting than those one thinks up oneself."

Marcel Proust


"The taste for quotations (and for the juxtaposition of incongruous quotations) is a Surrealist taste."

Susan Sontag


"Though collecting quotations could be considered as merely an ironic mimetism-victimless collecting, as it were….in a world that is well on its way to becoming one vast quarry, the collector becomes someone engaged in a pious work of salvage. The course of modern history having already sapped the traditions and shattered the living wholes in which precious objects once found their place, the collector may now in good conscience go about excavating the choicer, more emblematic fragments."

Susan Sontag

On Photography


"Aphorism," from the Greek aphorismos, is literally a distinction or a definition; and models-snatches of song or superstition-probably existed long before anyone thought to give them a name. The first aphorisms most likely dealt with religion and rules of behavior and were handed down from generation to generation, changing as the culture changed. Hippocrates (c.460-c 375 B.C.) is usually considered the first published aphorist, and the opening six words of his famous book on medicine may sound familiar: "Life is short, and art long; the crisis fleeting; experience perilous; and decision difficult."

-Arthur Krystal  Harpers Magazine/Feb 2008


  "The aphorism of Jesus, of which there are more than a hundred, are arresting crystallizations of insight that invite further insight. "You cannot serve two masters," "You cannot get grapes from a bramble bush," "if a blind person leads a blind person, will they not both fall into a ditch," "Leave the dead to bury the dead," "You strain out a gnat and swallow a camel"-all are short, provocative sayings that mean more than what they say and invite the hearers to see something they otherwise might not see.

   To see how the aphorisms worked as oral forms of speech, we must imagine them being said one at a time. For the most part, that is not how they appear in the gospels, where they are typically presented in collections. But we have to imagine them, as part of the oral teachings of Jesus, most often used singly. For an oral teacher to string together many pithy sayings in a row inhibits their function and defeats their purposes."

-Marcus J. Borg

Meeting Jesus Again For the First Time




Book: "They Never Said it". by P.F. Boller, Jr. & J. George

Book: "What They Didn't Say: A Book of Misquotations" ed Elizabeth Knowles

Book: "Geary's Guide to the World's Greatest Aphorists" by James Geary

Book: "The Book of Positive Quotations" John Cook

Book: "Encyclopedia of Religious Quotations" by Frank S. Mead

Book: "The Harper Religious and Inspirational Quotation Companion" Margaret Pepper

Book: "Inspiring Quotations, Contemporary and Classical" by Albert M. Well

Book: "The Yale Book of Quotations" ed by Fred R. Shapiro

Book: "21st Century Dictionary of Quotations" ed by The Princeton Language Institute

Book: "The 2,548 Best Things Anybody Ever Said" ed by Robert Byrne

Book: "History In Quotations" by M.J. Cohen & J. Major

Book: "Proverbs, East and West: An Anthology of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese Sayings With Western Equivalents" compiled by Kim Yong-Choi

Book: "The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations by Subject" Ed. by Susan Ratcliffe

Book: "Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations" by Ned Sherrin ed.

Book: "Book of Sayings and Thoughts" by Arthur Schnitzler

Book: "Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts" by Clive James

Book: "The Zurau Aphorisms of Franz Kafka" translated by Michael Hofmann

Book: "The Oxford Book of Aphorisms" Ed by John Gross

Book: "The World in a Phrase: A Brief History of the Aphorism" by James Gery

Book: "Geary's Guide to the World's Great Aphorists" by James Geary

Book: "Peculiar Proverbs: Weird Words of Wisdom from Around the World" by Stephen Amott


© 2007



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