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Witty and (Occasionally) Astute Observations

NOTE: The following witticisms are all made by men.  Women's quotes (both profound and humorous) can be found in the "Women's Quotes" section.



Mark Twain
Mark Twain
(1835-1910)
American Author & Humorist

"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."

"The lack of money is the root of all evil."

"Always do right. That will gratify some of the people, and astonish the rest."

"When in doubt, tell the truth."

"It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt."

"Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned."

"Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry."

"The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter."

"Where prejudice exists it always discolors our thoughts."

"All you need is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure."

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."

"The proper office of a friend is to side with you when you are in the wrong. Nearly anybody will side with you when you are in the right."

"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

"A sin takes on a new and real terror when there seems a chance that it is going to be found out."

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

"The holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money."

"Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody."

"Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it."

"It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them."

"There are two times in a man's life when he should not speculate: when he can't afford it, and when he can."

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Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
(1854-1900)
Irish playwright, novelist, poet


"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends."

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go"

"I am not young enough to know everything."

“Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes.”

America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.”

“I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.”

“I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable. There is something unfair about its use. It is hitting below the intellect.”

“The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

“By persistently remaining single a man converts himself into a permanent public temptation.”

“Life is one fool thing after another whereas love is two fool things after each other.”

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Groucho Marx
Groucho Marx, Comedian
(1890-1977)

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it."

“Q: What do you get when you cross an insomniac, an agnostic, and a dyslexic?
A: Someone who stays up all night wondering if there is a Dog.”

“I cannot say that I do not disagree with you”

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies.”

“Quote me as saying I was mis-quoted.”

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Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld, Comedian
(April 29, 1954)

"Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason"

“According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

“I am so busy doing nothing... that the idea of doing anything - which as you know, always leads to something - cuts into the nothing and then forces me to have to drop everything.”

“A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.”

“People who read the tabloids deserve to be lied to”

“Make no mistake about why these babies are here - they are here to replace us.”

“To me, if life boils down to one thing, it's movement. To live is to keep moving.”

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Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart, Comedian
Television Host:
The Daily Show

“Thou shall not kill. Thou shall not commit adultery. Don't eat pork. I'm sorry, what was that last one?? Don't eat pork. God has spoken. Is that the word of God or is that pigs trying to outsmart everybody?”

“Yesterday, the president met with a group he calls the coalition of the willing. Or, as the rest of the world calls them, Britain and Spain.”

“Yes! Finally captured Martha Stewart. You know, with all the massive and almost completely unpunished fraud perpetrated on the American public by such companies as Enron, Global Crossing, Tyco and Adelphia, we finally got the ringleader. Maybe now we can lower the nation's terror alert to periwinkle.”

“If the events of September 11, 2001, have proven anything, it's that the terrorists can attack us, but they can't take away what makes us American - our freedom, our liberty, our civil rights. No, only Attorney General John Ashcroft can do that.”

“But we are at war, and we here at THE DAILY SHOW will do our best to keep you informed of any late-breaking...humor we can find. Of course, our show is obviously at a disadvantage compared to the many news sources that we're competing with… at a disadvantage in several respects. For one thing, we are fake. They are not. So in terms of credibility we are, well, oddly enough, actually about even. We're about even.”

“Ultimately, people would respond a lot better to being treated like adults ... if politics wasn't treated like marketing,”

“Does anyone know... does the Christian persecution complex have an expiration date? Because...uh...you've all been in charge pretty much since...uh...what was that guys name...Constantine. He converted in, what was it, 312 A.D. I'm just saying, enjoy your success.”

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Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
(1874-1965)
British Prime Minister

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."

"He's a modest little person, with much to be modest about."

“We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out”

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

“There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true.”

“Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

“If this is a blessing, it is certainly very well disguised.”

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

“Difficulties mastered are opportunities won”

“To jaw-jaw- is always better than to war-war”

“I never worry about action, but only about inaction”

“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened”

“There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion.”

“It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.”

“Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have”

“Without courage all virtues lose their meaning.”

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

“Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.”

“A man is about as big as the things that make him angry”

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

“The rule which forbids ending a sentence with a preposition is the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put.”

“It is my belief, you cannot deal with the most serious things in the world unless you understand the most amusing”

“The first quality that is needed is audacity.”

“A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.”

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

“By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach.”

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”

“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.”

“I always avoid prophesying beforehand, because it is a much better policy to prophesy after the event has already taken place.”

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

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Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
(1809-1865)
16 U.S. President

"He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know."

“I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn't have the heart to let him down...”

“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six hours sharpening my ax.”

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have."

“The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.”

“Things may come to those who wait...but only the things left by those who hustle.”

“If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.”

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”

“The ballot is stronger than the bullet.”

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

“To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men”

“Most folks are about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”

“I walk slowly, but I never walk backward”

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”

“I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.”

“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right”

“I don't like that man. I must get to know him better.”

“The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.”

“Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves.”

“Die when I may, I want it said by those who knew me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.”

“Let the people know the truth and the country is safe.”

“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.”

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.”

“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

“You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence.”

“You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.”

“My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.”

“If I am killed, I can die but once; but to live in constant dread of it, is to die over and over again”

“If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, then ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”

“What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.”

“If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.”

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Clarence Darrow
Clarence Darrow
(1857-1938)
American Lawyer &
Leading Member of the
American Civil Liberties Union

History repeats itself, and that's one of the things that's wrong with history.

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."

I don't like spinach, and I'm glad I don't, because if I liked it I'd eat it, and I just hate it.

If you lose the power to laugh, you lose the power to think.

Laws should be like clothes. They should be made to fit the people they serve.

Lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for.

The first half of our lives are ruined by our parents and the second half by our children.

The law does not pretend to punish everything that is dishonest. That would seriously interfere with business.

True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.

You can protect your liberties in this world only by protecting the other man's freedom. You can be free only if I am free.

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George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
(1856-1950)
Irish Author

“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

"The only trouble with Christianity is that it has never yet been tried."

"When I was young I observed that nine out of every ten things I did were failures, so I did ten times more work."

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”

“If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you'd best teach it to dance.”

“You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul”

“We should all be obliged to appear before a board every five years and justify our existence...on pain of liquidation.”

“Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get”

“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven't got it.”

“In this world there is always danger for those who are afraid of it.”

“The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.”

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

“Two percent of the people think; three percent of the people think they think; and ninety-five percent of the people would rather die than think.”

“Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.”

“Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.”

“My specialty is being right when other people are wrong”

“Do not try to live forever. You will not succeed.”

“The surest way to ruin a man who doesn't know how to handle money is to give him some.”

“If all the economists in the world were laid end to end, they would still not reach a conclusion.”

“Better keep yourself clean and bright. You are the window through which you must see the world.”

“New opinions often appear first as jokes and fancies, then as blasphemies and treason, then as questions open to discussion, and finally as established truths.”

“No diet will remove all the fat from your body because the brain is entirely fat. Without a brain, you might look good, but all you could do is run for public office.”

“No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means”

“I don't know if there are men on the moon, but if there are they must be using the earth as their lunatic asylum”

“Why should we take advice on sex from the pope? If he knows anything about it, he shouldn't!”

“Miracles, in the sense of phenomena we cannot explain, surround us on every hand: life itself is the miracle of miracles.”

“Life is a flame that is always burning itself out, but it catches fire again every time a child is born”

“Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.”

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”


Other Witticisms:


“If you can't convince them, confuse them.” --Harry Truman (1884-1972), 33rd President

"If the signals are flashing and the gates are all down, and the whistle is blowing in vain, if you stay on the tracks, ignoring the facts, then you can't blame the wreck on the train."  -- Greg Tamblyn (Singer/Songwriter)

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator." -- John Bright

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up." -- Paul Keating

"He had delusions of adequacy." -- Walter Kerr

"There's nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won't cure." -- Jack E. Leonard

"He has the attention span of a lightning bolt." -- Robert Redford

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him." -- Forrest Tucker

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." -- Mae West

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music." -- Billy Wilder

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Witty Exchanges:

George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill :
"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play, bring a friend... if you have one."
Churchill in response: "Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second... if there is one."

Lady Nancy Astor to Churchill:
“Winston, if you were my husband, I'd poison your tea."
Churchill: "Nancy, if I were your husband, I'd drink it.”