English LanguageStart - Smart Words

Famous Sayings & Quotes

A small but fine collection of distinguished quotes and marvelous sayings. Quotations and sayings can help students to learn about homophony and polysemy. They learn to distinguish between words with similar sounds or spellings and learn about multiple meanings of words with a large semantic field. Furthermore, idiom-based jokes provide memorable contexts for idioms, which are notoriously difficult to memorize. Thus, the quotes in this list, help to facilitate the transition to a new language.

The origin of a saying is mostly unknown. Many famous English sayings have come from other languages (e.g. Latin, Greek, French, German), and vice versa.

Quotes on Truth

It is very difficult to tell the truth. [Lev Nokolaievich Tolstoy]

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. [Mark Twain, who attributed it to the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)]

Blasphemy is a victimless crime.

Chekov's Gun: A shotgun introduced on page one must go off before the end of the story. [Anton Chekhov]

Behind every 'just joking' is a little truth!

Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known. [The Great Gatsby, Chapter 3]

Popular Quotes

My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-three today and we don't know where the hell she is. » [Ellen Degeneres]

It's not true I had nothing on. I had the radio on. » [Marilyn Monroe]

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. [Abraham Maslow]

When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him: 'Whose?' [Don Marquis]

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate. [Drew Lawson, variant: ... part of the problem]

Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level - then beat you with experience. [Dilbert]

Of those who say nothing, few are silent. [Thomas Neil]

I can resist everything except temptation. [Oscar Wilde]

The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. [Oscar Wilde]

A wise man talks because he has something to say; a fool talks because he has to say something [Plato]

How I did it [The title of THE Book by Frankenstein Senior]


Be the change you want to see in the world. [Mahatma Gandhi]

If you want to change the world, start with yourself. [Mahatma Gandhi; Simple Englisch version of above quotation]

When you are in the right you can afford to keep your temper and when you are in the wrong, you can't afford to lose it. [Mahatma Gandhi]

An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching. [Mahatma Gandhi]

Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes. [Mahatma Gandhi]


Whether you think you can, or you think you can't-you're right. [Henry Ford]

Famous Qoutes on Knowledge and Beliefs

Everybody should believe in something. I believe I'll have another drink. » [W. C. Fields]

Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river. » [Nikita Khrushchev]

Half the lies our opponents tell about us are not true. » [Sir Boyle Roche]

A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic. » [Joseph Stalin]

War is just one more government program. » [Joseph Sobran]

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. » [François-Marie Arouet] (also known by the pen name Voltaire)

I'd rather be vaguely right than precisely wrong. » [John Maynard Keynes]

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler. [Albert Einstein, variant]

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. [Leonardo Da Vinci]

It seems that perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. [Antoine de Saint Exupéry]

"All ravens are black" is logically equivalent to the statement "all non-black-objects are non-ravens". » [Carl Gustav Hempel]

I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us. » [Bill Watterson]

When I'm good I'm very good, but when I'm bad I'm better. » [Mae West]

To die for an idea is to place a pretty high price upon conjectures. » [Anatole France]

Don't drink and drive, get stoned and fly!

Waiter : Would you like your coffee black.
Customer : What other colours do you have?

My girlfriend always laughs during sex - no matter what she's reading. [Steve Jobs]

Alright, alright, I apologize. I'm really, really sorry. I apologize unreservedly. I offer a complete and utter retraction. The imputation was totally without basis in fact and was in no way fair comment and was motivated purely by malice, and I deeply regret any distress that my comments may have caused you or your family, and I hereby undertake not to repeat any such slander at any time in the future. [A fish called Wanda]

Of those who say nothing, few are silent. [Thomas Neil]

Intellectual brilliance is no guarentee against being dead wrong. [David Fasold]

He used statistics the way a drunkard uses lampposts - for support, not illumination. [Andrew Lang]

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. [H. L. Mencken]

Time is what prevents everything from happening at once. [John Archibald Wheeler]

Enjoyment is not a goal, it is a feeling that accompanies important ongoing activity. [Paul Goodman]

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. [Confucius]

You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else. [Albert Einstein]


Quotes about Writing

Be a voice not an echo.

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are [W. Somerset Maugham ]

The pen is mightier than the sword [Metonymic Adage]

Write what should not be forgotten. [Isabel Allende]

If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write. [Martin Luther]


Quotes from "The Simpsons"

Scene in Kamp Krusty (Season: 4, Episode: 1): Bart waits impatiently for Mrs. Krabappel to fill out his report card. Their father had promised if Bart and Lisa got C averages they could go to Kamp Krusty during summer vacation.

Bart: Mrs. Krabappel, in figuring out my final grades, I hope you'll note that all of my textbooks are being returned in excellent condition. In some cases, still in their original wrappings!

Mrs. Krabappel: Duly noted.

Bart: I'd also like to add, as I gaze upon your beauty, I've never seen an angel fly so low.

Later, in the Simpsons backyard, Bart is handing his report card over to Homer (having changed all the D's to A's ), but Homer quickly detects the fraud:

Bart: So I won't get to go to camp?

Homer: Now Bart, we made this deal because I thought it would help you get good grades. And you didn't. But why should you pay for my mistake?


Legendary Qoutes about Everyday Life

A pile of rocks ceases to be a rock when somebody contemplates it with the idea of a cathedral in mind. - Antoine St. Exupery

A problem well stated is a problem half solved. - Charles Kettering

Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up because they're looking for ideas. - Paula Poundstone

Don't be afraid to take a big step when one is indicated. You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps. - David Lloyd George

I make more mistakes than anyone else I know, and sooner or later, I patent most of them. - Thomas Edison

Ideas won't keep. Something must be done about them. - Alfred North Whitehead

If it's a good idea, go ahead and do it. It's much easier to apologize than it is to get permission. - Rear Admiral Grace Hopper

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. - Abraham Maslow

If things seem under control, you are just not going fast enough. - Mario Andretti

If you want to kill any idea in the world, get a committee working on it. - Charles Kettering

Leap and the net will appear. - Zen Saying

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

Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have. - Emile Chartier

Nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must be first overcome. - Samuel Johnson

One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. - Andre Gide

One of the illusions of life is that the present hour is not the critical, decisive one. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Opportunity dances with those on the dance floor. - Anonymous

Pearls don't lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it. - Chinese Saying

Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. - Helen Keller

Test fast, fail fast, adjust fast. - Tom Peters

The best vision is insight. - Malcolm Forbes

There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come. - Victor Hugo

Things are only impossible until they're not. - Jean-Luc Picard

To accomplish great things we must dream as well as act. - Anatole France

We don't know who discovered water, but we're certain it wasn't a fish. - John Culkin

We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are. - Anais Nin

Whether or not you can observe a thing depends upon the theory you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed. - Albert Einstein

You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can't get them across, your ideas won't get you anywhere. - Lee Iacocca

You'll always miss 100% of the shots you don't take. - Wayne Gretzky

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!
[Percy Bysshe Shelley; in the year 1817]

I didn't say it was your fault; I said that I was going to blame you.

Fame is proof that people are gullible.

God gives us relatives; thank God we can chose our friends.

I'm not an alcoholic. I am a drunk! Alcoholics go to meetings.

I'm patient with stupidity, but not with those who are proud of it. - Edith Sitwell

Never confuse motion for action. - Benjamin Franklin

We are ready for any unforeseen event which may or may not happen. - George W. Bush

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a litte temporary safety deserve neither. - Benjamin Franklin

She asked me how I became so cynical about women...and then she provided the evidence. - David Reed

When forced to choose between two evils, try the new one.

You can't please everyone. But it is possible to piss 'em all off at the same time.