A Collection of Some of my Favourite Quotes

I like quotes. I collect them. If I come across a turn of phrase that catches my fancy, I jot it down. I’ve already put up a couple of my favourites on this site, but it’s been far too long since I’ve put up a new post in that category. I’ll do my best not to repeat past entries.

The following are in no particular order or theme. Some are funny, others bleak. Many are profound, and several are absurd. Where necessary, I have given some context, but hopefully most of them can stand on their own merits. Some make me think, others just make me smile. I enjoy all of them, and I hope you do too.

“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson, Isaac Asimov’s Nightfall was inspired by this quote

“He didn’t say that. He was reading what was given to him in a speech.”

–Rich Darmen on President George W. Bush’s promise to save the wetlands

“If you cannot convince them, confuse them.”

–President Harry S. Truman

“I was under medication when I made the decision not to burn the tapes.”

–President Richard M. Nixon

“Even paranoid people have enemies.”

–Henry Kissinger

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

–Albert Einstein

“The good Lord is subtle but not malicious.”

–Albert Einstein

“I want to know all God’s thoughts.”

–Albert Einstein

“God does not play dice with the universe.”

–Albert Einstein

“Einstein, stop telling God what to do.”

–Niels Bohr, to Einstein (really!)

“If I occasionally neglect to cite a theorist, it’s not because I’ve forgotten. It’s probably because I hate him.”

–Leon Lederman, Nobel laureate and experimental physicist

“640K ought to be enough for anyone.”

–Bill Gates, 1981

“Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”

–Pablo Picasso

“Tell me, and I may forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.”

–Chinese proverb

“Be humble, for you are made of earth. Be noble, for you are made of stars.”

–Serbian proverb

“Black as hell, strong as death, sweet as love.”

–Turkish proverb about coffee

“Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.”

–Italian proverb

“If the world should blow itself up, the last sound would be that of an expert saying it can’t be done.”

–Peter Alexander Ustinov

“I haven’t committed a crime. What I did was fail to comply with the law.”

–David Dinks, New York City Mayor, on not paying his taxes

“I was a pilot flying an airplane, and it just so happened that where I was flying made what I was doing spying.”

–Francis Gary Powers, U2 Pilot

“I’ve always thought the underpopulated countries in Africa are vastly underpolluted.”

–Lawrence Summers, World Bank executive

“Is Col. Saunders the friend of chickens?”

–Ed Broadbent, former leader of the Canadian New Democratic Party, when asked if then-health minister Ujjal Dosanjh could protect medicare

“The higher we soar the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.”

–Frederick Nietszche

“What does not kill me makes me stronger.”

–Frederick Nietszche

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

–Frederick Nietszche

“I hope to do two things: To preserve the memory of the past by putting on record the astonishing achievements of our own men and of the Asiatic peoples, and second –and more particularly– to show how the two races came into conflict.”


“Damn this world, damn this time, damn this fate, that uncivilized Arabs have come to make me a Muslim.”

–From the epic Persian national poem Shahnameh

“Oh people, know that you have committed great sins. If you ask me what proof I have of these words, I say it is because I am the punishment of God. If you have not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”

–Genghis Khan

“Moses dragged us through the desert to the only place in the Middle East where there is no oil.”

–Golda Meir

“The globe has one superpower, and that superpower has to choose to be either a moral superpower or a capitalist superpower. The choice will influence history.”

–Dr. Alaa Al Aswany, Egyptian writer, in a National Geographic interview

“I came, I saw, I conquered.”

–Gaius Julius Caesar

“he must fear many, whom many fear.”

–Decimus Laberius, referring to Caesar

“They made a desert and called it peace.”


“Alas, I think I am becoming a god.”

–Vespasian, on his deathbed

“Wars, the horror of mothers.”


“Bread and circuses.”

–Juvenal, on what is necessary to keep the masses happy

“There is no easy way from the Earth to the stars.”

–Seneca the Younger

“I fear the Greeks, even bearing gifts.”


“The play is over.”

–Augustus Caesar, on his deathbed

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”


“Hope is the dream of the waking man.”


“Wit is educated insolence.”


“A witty saying proves nothing.”


“Now, now, my good man. This is no time for making enemies.”

–Voltaire, on his deathbed upon being asked to renounce Satan

“I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.”

–George Bernard Shaw

“I can resist everything except temptation.”

–Oscar Wilde

“No matter how thin you slice it, it’s still baloney.”

–Alfred E. Smith

“To many he was a crackpot, until he hit the jackpot.”

–Erik Lindbergh about his grandfather Charles Lindbergh, the man who flew solo across the Atlantic for a $25,000 prize during a speech announcing the $10-million X Prize.

“66% of Americans believe that President Bush has done a poor job handling the situation in Iraq. The other 34% believe that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church.”

–Tina Fey

“Voted, that the Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. Voted, that the Earth is given to the Saints. Voted, that we are the Saints.”

–Minutes from a town hall meeting, Milford, Connecticut, 1640

“If Toronto is New York operated by the Swiss, Ottawa is Washington operated by the Germans.”

–John Ivison, National Post Columnist

“She drinks like a sports writer, howls like a werewolf, and poops like a Lakeshore goose.”

–Allen Abel, National Post writer, on his infant daughter

“Indianapolis football player Mike Doss is arrested for firing a handgun into the air near a crowded Akron nightclub. Apparently the Colts safety doesn’t know how to work his Colt’s safety.”

–Scott Ostler, San Fransisco Chronicle Columnist

“The most startling part of the news story was the phrase, ‘Crowded Akron nightclub.’ ”

–Scott Ostler, San Fransisco Chronicle Columnist, on the previous quote

“[The best a news network can hope to do, especially in wartime] is to reflect all sides of any story while retaining the values, beliefs, and sentiments of the target audience.”

–Mohammed El-Nawamy, co-author of Al-Jazeera: How the Free Arab News Network Scooped the World and Changed the Middle East

“To be objective in this area is not easy because we live here. We are a part of the people here. And this situation belongs to us also, and we have our opinions.”

–Al-Jazeera’s Ramallah correspondent on 60 Minutes in May of 2001 during the Intifada

“You say I wear my biases on my sleeve? Better that than pretend you have none, but show them clearly in your work.”

–Neil Cavuto, Fox News

“While it may be hard to live with generalizations, it is inconceivable to live without them.”

–Peter Gay, Yale historian

“We think in generalities. We live in details.”

–Alfred North Whitehead

“For all my desire to be interesting, I have to confess that for most things and people I don’t give a damn.”

–H. G. Wells

“A university is what a college becomes when the faculty loses interest in students.”

–J. Ciardi

“French is the language of diplomacy. Spanish is the language of bureaucracy.”

–Ernest Hemingway

“Anselmo’s a Christian, and that’s rare in Catholic countries.”

–Ernest Hemingway

“If a man has something once, always something of it remains.”

–Ernest Hemingway

“The world breaks everyone and afterwards many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these things you can be sure it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.”

–Ernest Hemingway

“I’ve never been on to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as the new. What is broken is broken, and I’d rather remember it at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived.”

–Rhett Butler, from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

–Dr. Seuss

“Some joys, it’s true, are wrong in Heaven’s eyes; yet Heaven is not averse to compromise.”

–Tortuffe by Molière

“A man with clever words and an ingratiating appearance is seldom a man of humanity.”


“To eat bread without hope is still slowly to starve to death.”

–Pearl S. Buck

“The Prussian official is like a member of an orchestra, but I want to play only the music which I myself like, or no music at all.”

–Otto von Bismark

“The trouble with some women is that they get all excited about nothing –and then they marry him.”


“You always tell a beautiful woman she’s brilliant and a brilliant woman she’s beautiful.”

–Casa Nova

“I spent 90% of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted.”

–George Best

“We live in an age of apologies. Apologies, fake or true, are expected from the descendants of empire builders, slave owners and persecutors of heretics, and from men who –in our eyes– just got it all wrong. So, with the age of 85 coming up shortly, I want to make an apology. It appears I must apologize for being male, white, and European.”

–Alec Guinness

“Success is having to worry about every damn thing in the world, except money.”

–Johnny Cash

“I’m one of those people you hate because of genetics. It’s the truth.”

–Brad Pitt

“I secretly understood: The primitive appeal of the hearth. Television is –its irresistible charm– a fire.”

–John Updike

“I was born as deaf and as quiet as a starfish, but if I have been born a man I would pray to the Lord Above every night at the top of my fucking lungs just to thank him for giving me voice.”

Rives, poet, repeating a poem he heard in a high school for the deaf

“A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are made for.”

–Grace Murray Hopper

“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

“We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”

–Charles Bukowski

“Do what thy manhood bids thee do; from none but self expect applause.”

–Richard Francis Burton

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than it be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.”

–Jack London, on the virtues of cremation

“If death meant just leaving the stage long enough to change costume and come back as a new character, would you slow down? Or speed up?”

–Chuck Palahniuk

“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

–Albert Camus

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be lighted.”


“We are a way for the universe to know itself.”

–Carl Sagan


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s