The 33 Best, Most Popular, and Most Inspiring Albert Einstein Quotes

The 33 Best Albert Einstein Quotes Cover

Albert Einstein is one of, if not the most influential scientist of all time. Born 1879 in Ulm, Germany, the short, quirky man with the funny hair would go on to completely upend humanity’s understanding of time, space, gravity, and physics altogether. His most notable contributions all stem from 4 papers published in 1905, his “miracle year,” one of which would win him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. Einstein died in 1955 in Princeton, still working, equations by his bedside. If you’re looking for some inspiration from one of the greatest minds who ever lived, today’s list of the best, real Albert Einstein quotes is for you!

We’ll start our organized collection with Einstein’s 10 most popular lines based on reader votes from Goodreads. Only the real ones, of course. We’ve filtered out any misattributions. Next, we’ll share our founder Nik‘s 23 favorite quotes from the man. Since Einstein is one of the most falsely attributed sources of all time, we decided to also include 17 “Neinsteins,” famous quotes you likely know, but which he never said. There’ll also be a full list of sources, of course. Finally, we’ll share where you can find more Einstein quotes, a short biography of his life, and some cool, custom images you can use to share your favorites to social media.

Want all quotes in a convenient PDF so you can read one a day and stay inspired for a whole month and beyond? Download our list for free to print it, save it, and revisit it whenever you like. You can even check off one quote each day and stay motivated for weeks to come, free of charge!

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How can you quickly navigate this list? Use the clickable table of contents below to instantly jump to whichever section interests you the most. If you want to share any particular quote, just highlight it, and various options will appear. Or just skip to the images section and pick your favorite.

Now, before we start, here’s a first quote from Einstein to remember: “The aim [of education] must be the training of independently acting and thinking individuals who, however, see in the service to the community their highest life achievement.” He said this addressing the State University of New York in Albany in 1936. Einstein was a strong believer in thinking for yourself and using your ability to reason, imagine, and deduct to form your own opinions. So enjoy these quotes, but reflect on them, too. As you’ll come to learn, “the important thing is to not stop questioning.”

Let’s discover the best quotes from Albert Einstein, a great thinker, dedicated scientist, and perhaps the most playful genius of all time!

The 10 Most Popular, Real Quotes From Albert Einstein

Let’s start with the big hits. Which are the most popular Albert Einstein quotes? I did the research for you. On Goodreads, a platform with over 125 million members, the following 10 quotes from Einstein have the most likes.

His idea that only the universe and human stupidity are infinite takes the crown by a mile, with over 144,000 likes. In fact, it’s the 3rd-most liked quote on the entire platform. Its attribution is somewhat shaky but exists. The next-most popular quote has under 40,000 likes, and it goes down to around 7,000 likes for the last quote that makes the list.

Since we filtered out all fake Einstein quotes, we actually had to go all the way to #19 on the list to get the real top 10! We stuck with the original phrasing in Einstein’s words for each line. You’ll find popular alternatives in the sources.

Here are the 10 most popular Einstein quotes:

1. “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

2. “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

3. “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

4. “I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.”

5. “[I do not] carry such information in my mind since it is readily available in books.”

6. “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.”

7. “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

8. “The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

9. “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

10. “Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value. He is considered successful in our day who gets more out of life than he puts in. But a man of value will give more than he receives.”

My 23 Favorite Albert Einstein Quotes

I’ve loved Einstein since I was young, not least because Schloss Einstein (“Castle Einstein”), a German daily soap with and for teenagers, is named after him. I even took a picture with his statue at Madame Tussaud’s in 2008, imitating his famous tongue-wagging photo.

It was only after I became a writer, however, that I learned to really appreciate his attitude, work ethic, and his real words over the many fake quotes floating around the internet. I bought a copy of Walter Isaacson’s biography of him, and I started watching Genius, the National Geographic Show about his life.

After searching, reviewing, and verifying his work for many hours, here are 23 of my favorite, authentic Einstein quotes:

11.  “I would not want to go on living if I didn’t have my work.”

12. “The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.”

13. “The value of education is not the learning of facts but the training of the mind to think.”

14. “If A is success in life, then A = X * Y * Z. Work is X, play is Y, and Z is keeping your mouth shut.”

15. “The mind can proceed only so far upon what it knows and can prove. There comes a point where the mind takes a leap — call it intuition or what you will — and comes out upon a higher plane of knowledge, but can never prove how it got there. All great discoveries have involved such a leap.”

16. “Do not stop to think about the reasons for what you are doing, about why you are questioning. The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”

17. “A happy man is too satisfied with the present to think too much about the future.”

18. “Whoever fails to take the truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large matters either.”

19. “I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.”

20. “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

21. “The hardest thing in the world to understand is income taxes.”

22. “Common sense is nothing more than a deposit of prejudices laid down in the mind prior to the age of eighteen.”

23. “The eternally incomprehensible thing about the world is its comprehensibility.”

24. “I think that only daring speculation can lead us further and not accumulation of facts.”

25. “In order to be a perfect member of a flock of sheep, one has to be, foremost, a sheep.”

26. “Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?” (on the development of the atomic bomb)

27. “I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves—such an ethical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty… The ideals which have always shone before me and filled me with the joy of living are goodness, beauty, and truth. To make a goal of comfort or happiness has never appealed to me.”

28. “I want to go when I want. It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share; it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.”

29. “If there is no price to be paid, it is also not of value.”

30. “Strange is our situation here on Earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose… There is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men.”

31. “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”

32. “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or objects.”

33. “I believe that whatever we do or live for has its causality. It is good, however, that we do not know what it is.”

Top 17 Fake “Einstein Quotes” — Most Common Misattributions

As if his real ideas weren’t great enough, when it comes to receiving credit for things he never said, Albert Einstein is by far the most popular scientist in history. We love to think we’re quoting Einstein, and when in doubt, everything sounds better coming from his mouth.

While some attributions are just plainly made up, many times, sayings with a loose connection to Einstein ended up being ascribed to him, for example from a TV script writer who had an Einstein character in his show, fellow physicists describing interactions with him, or other, also creative writers misremembering his speeches.

Thankfully, people like Garson O’Toole from Quote Investigator and the world’s premier Einstein expert, Alice Calaprice, who’s been working at the Einstein Archives at Princeton since 1970 and has reviewed more than 42,000 (!) documents about his life, work hard to clear up any misattributions.

Here are, in no particular order, 17 of the top “Neinstein quotes,” with their real sources where traceable:

1. “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.” — Gilbert Fowler White

2. “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” — Louis de Broglie

3. “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” — Anonymous

4. “Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” — Anonymous

5. “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” — Anonymous

6. “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.” — Anonymous

7. “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” — Ernest Kinoy

8. “If we knew what it is we were doing, it would not be called research. Would it?” — Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi

9. “The search for truth is more precious than its possession.” — Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

10. “The Eighth Wonder of the World—is compound interest.” — Anonymous

11. “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” — Matthew Kelly

12. “Education is that which remains, if one has forgotten everything he learned in school.” — Anonymous

13. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” — Narcotics Anonymous

14. “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” — John A. Shedd

15. “They’re cheering us both: you because nobody understands you, and me because everybody understands me.” — Charlie Chaplin

16. “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left.” — Anonymous

17. “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” — William Bruce Cameron


For all 33 real Einstein quotes:

  1. Via Quote Investigator, dependent on the memory of Frederick Perls.
  2. In a 1929 interview with the Saturday Evening Post.
  3. In a letter to his son, as verified by Walter Isaacson in his biography of the man and confirmed by Quote Investigator.
  4. From Leopold Infeld’s autobiography, Quest. You can see the relevant portion in full in the Amazon book preview.
  5. Via Wikiquote, via a chain of sources in Isaacson’s biography. Often quoted as “Never memorize what you can look up in books,” via the Library of Congress or “Never memorize something that you can look up.”
  6. multiple sources, secretary  Also quoted as “When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.” The quote has various variants and sources on Wikiquote, but they all go back to him telling this to his secretary, who then passed it on (via Quote Investigator).
  7. From Religion and Science, a 1930 New York Times article by Einstein.
  8. In a letter to Michele Besso’s family after his friend had died, just months before his own death. Often quoted as “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” Here is the full context: “Now he has again preceded me a little in parting from this strange world. This has no importance. For people like us who believe in physics, the separation between past, present and future has only the importance of an admittedly tenacious illusion.”
  9. Via The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, in a letter to Carl Seelig.
  10. From one of his last interviews in LIFE Magazine, May 2nd, 1955 issue.
  11. In a letter to Michele Besso, 1938.
  12. Via Quote Investigator.
  13. Via Quote Investigator.
  14. Via Quote Investigator.
  15. From the LIFE Magazine interview.
  16. From the LIFE Magazine interview.
  17. Via The Ultimate Quotable Einstein.
  18. Via Quote Investigator, a personal translation I made from its original German.
  19. Via Quote Investigator.
  20. Via Quote Investigator, sort of by Einstein, poet Mark Scroggins contracted some statements made by Einstein in a 1933 lecture. Originally, he said: “It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.”
  21. Via Quote Investigator, as reported by Einstein’s personal accountant.
  22. Via Quote Investigator, quoted in a book for which Einstein wrote the foreword, so it is likely he saw the statement and agreed.
  23. From Physics and Reality, a German essay, translations via Wikiquote.
  24. In a letter to Michele Besso, 1952.
  25. Via Wikiquote.
  26. In the Russell-Einstein manifesto.
  27. In What I Believe, an essay published in 1930.
  28. Via The Ultimate Quotable Einstein.
  29. Via The Ultimate Quotable Einstein.
  30. In What I Believe, an essay published in 1930.
  31. Via The Ultimate Quotable Einstein.
  32. Via The Ultimate Quotable Einstein.
  33. Via The Ultimate Quotable Einstein.

And for the 17 “Neinsteins,” the famous misattributions:

  1. Via Skeptica Esoterica, likely Fowler remembering something wrong he read about Einstein, then inventing the quote himself.
  2. From New Perspectives in Physics, as recounted by Louis de Broglie when talking to Einstein, but only a paraphrase, and that has now further been simplified. Apparently Einstein told him that “all physical theories, their mathematical expressions apart ought to lend themselves to so simple a description ‘that even a child could understand them.'”
  3. Via the Library of Congress, a story from a woman who heard a story about a woman, so it’s mostly hearsay.
  4. No sources traceable to Einstein whatsoever for this one.
  5. Via Quote Investigator, a line with a long history and probably anonymous origin.
  6. Via Quote Investigator, also a saying long in circulation.
  7. Via Quote Investigator, from a screenwriter, written for an Einstein character, not by Einstein himself.
  8. From a lecture by a man named Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi.
  9. Via Quote Investigator.
  10. Via Quote Investigator, used in bank ads by copywriters for a long time.
  11. Via Quote Investigator, probably made up by the author for his self-help book.
  12. Via Quote Investigator, Einstein used this line but credited someone else, who was anonymous.
  13. From a Narcotics Anonymous book, actually as “Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.”
  14. Via Quote Investigator.
  15. Via Quote Investigator, originally by one of Einstein’s sons, likely Hans Albert Einstein, who said, addressing the two men over dinner, “You are popular because you are understood by the masses. On the other hand, the professor’s popularity with the masses is because he is not understood.” Only later was the above version ascribed to Chaplin himself.
  16. Via Quote Investigator, another line with a long and complex history that has little to do with Einstein.
  17. Via Quote Investigator.

More Albert Einstein Quotes

For more real, verified Albert Einstein quotes, I can wholeheartedly recommend 2 books. The first is The Ultimate Quotable Einstein,* published by Alice Calaprice, the world’s premier authority on Einstein. She released the first edition in 1996, the last in 2010. It includes over 1,600 authentic Einstein quotes and debunks many fake ones. The book was of huge help in putting this list together.

The single-best way to get more original Einstein quotes in a story format, however, is to buy a copy of Einstein: His Life and Universe*, by Walter Isaacson. It’s an amazing biography, and Isaacson always verifies his sources, too. Here’s a quick overview of the book, along with a snazzy buy button which will earn us a small commission at no extra cost to you if you click it. Thank you!

Albert Einstein Quotes Book Cover, Biography, Walter Isaacson

Favorite Quote

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” — Albert Einstein

The Book in One Sentence

Einstein: His Life and Universe takes a close look at the life of Albert Einstein, covering how his childhood shaped him, what his biggest discoveries and personal struggles were, and how his focus changed in later years but how, through it all, his genius never faded, including up to his very last days.

Why should you read it?

If you’re an academic, scientist, physicist, or artist, this is a must read. For anyone else, it’s an inspiring tale of a life well lived, a life taken seriously without ever forgetting to have fun along the way. Einstein was one of few who manage to preserve their sense of child-like curiosity while applying their intellect to important matters, and he did so perhaps better than anyone else. It’s the fascinating story of a great human being, which will inspire and stay with you for a long time.

Key Takeaways

  1. Einstein always preserved his sense of childhood curiosity, which is a key part of his success.
  2. He did not get his Nobel prize for his theory of relativity.
  3. Your journey through life never stops, until you die.

If you want to learn more, you can read our summary of the book or get a copy for yourself:


The Best Albert Einstein Quotes for Sharing on Social Media

Beyond the “highlight and share” feature you can use to post any quote on this page, we’ve also made some custom images for you to easily tap and share. Some are optimized for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, others follow Instagram’s classic square format or Pinterest’s more vertical layout.

Since Albert Einstein was a real person, we figured we would stick with real photographs of him, as well as the occasional statue and mural here and there (he is a popular subject among artists!). No AI-generated backgrounds this time, maybe next time again 🙂 All pictures sourced via Google with their creative commons license filter. Happy sharing!

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Who Was Albert Einstein? (His Life in 500 Words)

Widely considered the greatest scientist of all time, particularly for his theory of relativity (both special and general), Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, in Ulm, Germany. That’s Pi Day — the mathematical constant starts with 3.14. The holiday is a recent invention, but it still seems to foreshadow Einstein’s talent for numbers. 3 times 14 also equals 42, by the way, the “answer to everything.” 😉

In the theme song for Germany’s longest-running daily soap for teenagers (“Castle Einstein”), the singer quotes the common idea that “even Einstein only got a D in math.” That’s a myth. The son of an engineer and well-educated mother showed great talent early on. By age 14, he already understood calculus, came up with original mathematical proofs, and read Kant.

Einstein’s IQ was never measured, but his score is estimated at 160 to 180, one of the highest ever. Despite being a prodigy, Einstein initially failed the entrance test for Zurich University at 16. He returned one year later and completed a diploma in mathematics and physics, followed by a PhD thesis in 1905. It’s only 16 pages long!

That same year, at only 26 years old, Einstein had his “annus mirabilis,” his miracle year, in which he published 4 papers that would each change the course of science forever, all while working as a clerk at the Swiss Patent Office. He proposed special relativity, his famous E = mc2 formula, a theory to verify the existence of atoms, and the photoelectric effect. The latter won him the 1921 Nobel Prize in physics, by the way — the idea that light travels both in wave- and particle-form — not his theory of relativity.

Where his professional life was littered with fame and success, his private life was often marked with strife. Einstein got married, divorced over an affair he had, married again, cheated again, then became a widower in his 50s. The only woman he never dated? His first love, Marie Winteler.

Over the course of his life, Einstein lived in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the United States — often in multiple locations. He held 6 citizenships. He was also stateless for 5 years. Being of Jewish descent, after Hitler took power in Germany in 1933, he could never return to his home. He stayed in Princeton for the rest of his life. All this moving must have been exhausting.

In 1939, when World War II broke out, he wrote a letter to president Franklin D. Roosevelt, alerting the US to the Nazi’s development of an atomic bomb. While he never worked on the Manhattan Project directly, Robert Oppenheimer consulted him on occasion. After the US “won” the race to develop the bomb and used it to end World War II, Einstein also co-signed a manifesto with 9 other Nobel laureates, warning of the dangers of atomic weapons.

Einstein died in 1955 from internal bleeding. Until his last day, he never stopped working. He was writing a speech in his bed, and he even left some equations on his nightstand.

In one of his last interviews, he urged the son of the interviewer to “never lose a holy curiosity.” More than anything, Einstein believed in the power of combining knowledge and imagination into the kind of creativity that can change the world. He proved that belief many times over. That’s why, today, everyone knows his name. We hope our quotes will help you foster and combine these two qualities, and that you, too, will “never stop questioning.”


That’s it! This is where our list of the 33 best and most important Einstein quotes concludes. What’s your take? I hope we picked a few lines you didn’t yet know. If we missed something, just tweet at us and let us know! And now, for some parting words from the genius himself:

“I have done my share; it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.”

Other Quote Lists

Looking for more quotes from interesting people and lines from great books? Here are all quote lists we’ve hand-selected for you so far:

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Last Updated on January 1, 2024