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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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


Sources

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.”


Conclusion

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:


The 44 Most Famous & Thought-Provoking Philosophy Quotes From History’s Greatest Philosophers

The 44 Best Philosophy Quotes of All Time Cover

Even if you’ve never opened a philosophy book, you’ll likely find quotes from great philosophers transformative and inspiring. Why? Philosophy has 2 definitions: one as a field of study, and one as “a theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behavior.” In layman’s terms, any rule or idea that helps you make decisions and move forward with your life is philosophy! So, whether you want to brush up on your philosophy knowledge or simply find some powerful, encouraging words, today’s list of the best philosophy quotes of all time will be right up your alley!

At Four Minute Books, we’ve summarized over 1,000 books, including many philosophy classics and modern bestsellers on the topic. As part of this journey, we’ve not only discovered the top philosophy titles. We also made our own highlights and took notes along the way.

In this organized list, we’ll share with you the 14 most famous philosophy quotes from some of history’s first philosophers. You’ll also discover 20 of the top ideas from modern-age philosophers (post-15th century). To round things out, we’ve included 10 quotes from ancient Stoics, since Stoicism is our favorite philosophy here at Four Minute Books. All quotes come with sources, of course, in a dedicated section. Finally, you’ll see where you can find more great philosophy quotes, get some sharing images for social media, and even a little primer on what philosophy is and what the most popular and well-known philosophies are.

Want a list of the 7 best philosophy books of all time to learn more about Stoicism, Existentialism, and others straight from history’s greatest philosophers? Download our free PDF, print it, and get to know the many worldviews that can help us think and live better. Or save it for later and read it whenever you want!

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The easiest way to navigate this list is to use the clickable table of contents below. Jump to whichever section seems most interesting with a single tap! If you want to share any quote on this list, simply highlight it. Several sharing options will appear. Or, you can skip to the social media section towards the end with custom images we’ve already made for you.

Here are the 44 best philosophy quotes of all time!


The 14 Most Important Philosophy Quotes From Ancient Philosophers

The 14 Most Important Philosophy Quotes From Ancient Philosophers

Did you know that philosophy was the original, first branch of science? Many of the other fields, from physics to chemistry to biology, and even mathematics and psychology, later split off from there. Geographically, philosophy emerged independently in 4 different areas: The West, ancient Arabia/Persia, India, and China.

Interestingly, only Western philosophy developed as a standalone discipline. In all the other areas, it was initially tied to religion. The ancient Greeks were also the first to think about how to live “the good life,” as they dubbed it. Starting as early as the 7th century BCE, Thales of Miletus, is considered to be the first philosopher.

Thankfully, a good amount of information about him and his peers survives to this date — including some of their writings. Here are 14 of the earliest, most important philosophy quotes from ancient philosophers:

1. “I know that I know nothing.” — Socrates

2. “Know thyself.” — Aristotle

3. “The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.” — Plato

4. “You could not step twice into the same river.” — Heraclitus

5. “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” — Plutarch

6. “He who is not satisfied with a little, is satisfied with nothing.” — Epicurus

7. “It is better either to be silent, or to say things of more value than silence. Sooner throw a pearl at hazard than an idle or useless word; and do not say a little in many words, but a great deal in a few.” — Pythagoras

8. “Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion.” — Democritus

9. “I am a citizen of the world.” — Diogenes

10. “The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.” — Thales

11. “Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward. Work not for a reward, but never cease to do thy work.” — Vyasa

12. “However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?” — Buddha

13. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” — Lao Tzu

14. “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” — Confucius


The 20 Most Famous Philosophy Quotes From Modern Philosophers

The 20 Most Famous Philosophy Quotes From Modern Philosophers

Given how early philosophy began, you’d think we’d all be enlightened by now. Unfortunately, this pesky thing called “the Dark Ages” got in the way. After the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 CE, primitive forces prevailed in the West. Humans were too busy bashing each other’s heads in to practice contemplation, make art, or push civilization forward with new technology. For the most part, at least.

It would take almost 1,000 years, until the Renaissance (French for “revival”) would start blooming out of Florence, Italy. This period later bloomed into the Age of Enlightenment, which is when modern philosophy really came into its own. From René Descartes to Immanuel Kant to Francis Bacon, some of the field’s true greats lived and worked in this period.

Thanks to the invention of the printing press in 1440, many of the best ideas from this era and beyond have been preserved. Here are 20 of them, all part of the most famous philosophy quotes of all time:

15. “Cogito ergo sum. I think; therefore I am.” — René Descartes

16. “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

17. “Knowledge is power.” — Sir Francis Bacon

18. “Sapere aude. Dare to think.” — Immanuel Kant

19. “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

20. “Workers of the world, unite!” — Karl Marx

21. “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” — Søren Kierkegaard

22. “One ought to be both feared and loved, but as it is difficult for the two to go together, it is much safer to be feared than loved, if one of the two has to be wanting.” — Niccolò Machiavelli

23. “Every man I meet is in some way my superior, and in that, I can learn of him.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

24. “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” — Blaise Pascal

25. “Common sense is not so common.” — Voltaire

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

27. “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” — John Stuart Mill

28. “Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

29. “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein

30. “Man is condemned to be free.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

31. “Human happiness and human satisfaction must ultimately come from within oneself.” — Dalai Lama XIV

32. “If you don’t know, the thing to do is not to get scared, but to learn.” — Ayn Rand

33. “One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion.” — Simone de Beauvoir

34. “Beauty is no quality in things themselves: It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them; and each mind perceives a different beauty.” — David Hume


10 Philosophy Quotes About Stoicism From the Earliest & Most Famous Stoics

10 Philosophy Quotes About Stoicism From the Earliest & Most Famous Stoics

As you’ll find out in the explainer sections at the end of this list, philosophy is a bit like ice cream: We all have different tastes, but there’s a flavor for almost everyone. Not only can you pick from a plethora of differing philosophies, you can also adopt various theories for separate phases of your life. In fact, you can — and will probably have to — assemble the best bits from a variety of philosophies to come up with a list of guiding principles that works specifically for you.

At Four Minute Books, one of our favorite pools of philosophy to draw from is Stoicism. Why? It’s practical, pragmatic, and not overly complicated. It goes back to the original, first philosophers, and it’s a great tool set for real people, living in the real world.

Thanks to authors like Ryan Holiday, Stoicism is experiencing a revival right now. Here are 10 of the most quintessential ideas from the philosophy, sourced from 10 of the first ever Stoics (starting with Zeno, born 334 BCE, the first Stoic), sorted in order of when their originators lived:

35. “We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we speak.” — Zeno of Citium

36. “Fate guides the willing, but drags the unwilling.” — Cleanthes

37. “There could be no justice, unless there were also injustice; no courage, unless there were cowardice; no truth, unless there were falsehood.” — Chrysippus

38. “Cease to hope, and you will cease to fear.” — Hecato

39. “Let your desires be ruled by reason.” — Cicero

40. “I begin to speak only when I’m certain what I’ll say isn’t better left unsaid.” — Cato the Younger

41. “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” — Seneca

42. “If you accomplish something good with hard work, the labor passes quickly, but the good endures; if you do something shameful in pursuit of pleasure, the pleasure passes quickly, but the shame endures.” — Musonius Rufus

43. “Men are disturbed not by things but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things.” — Epictetus

44. “You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” — Marcus Aurelius


Bonus: 4 Thought-Provoking Quotes From People You Didn’t Even Know Were Philosophers

Just as a little, fun bonus, here are 4 more quotes that will make you think. These come from unlikely philosophers, people you might not know as famous thinkers — or at all, for that matter. If you find them interesting, enjoy digging deeper into their lives and ideas via the links in the sources section!

45. “A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.” — Bruce Lee

46. “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” — Oscar Wilde

47. “I know it seems hard sometimes, but remember one thing: Through every dark night, there’s a bright day after that. So no matter how hard it gets, stick your chest out, keep your head up, and handle it.” — Tupac Shakur

48. “Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” — Jerzy Gregorek


Sources

  1. Via Wikipedia. Socrates paradoxical insight, as recorded by Plato, is one of the oldest, most well-known ideas in philosophy.
  2. Via Wikipedia. Aristotle was probably not the first person to say this, but it is likely he did say it and thus popularized the saying. There’s another popular variant floating around the web: “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” That one, however, has no connection to Aristotle.
  3. As found in Francis Macdonald Cornford’s 1941 translation of The Republic.
  4. Via Wikiquote, as recorded by Plato and in surviving fragments of his writing in several variations. Some people speculate that the phrase “The only constant in life is change” goes back to this quote, but it only surfaced much later.
  5. Via Wikiquote, from De Auditu, a surviving essay, actually a contraction of the full, longer statement, “The correct analogy for the mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting — no more — and then it motivates one towards originality and instills the desire for truth.”
  6. Via Wikiquote, a surviving fragment.
  7. Via A Dictionary of Thoughts, a 1908 quote collection by Tryon Edwards.
  8. Via Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, a book by Diogenes Laërtius.
  9. Also via Lives of the Eminent Philosophers. The word “cosmopolitan” goes back to him. Representing the “Cynic” branch of philosophy (yet another word that goes back to him), he also once told Alexander the Great to “stand a little out of my sun.”
  10. Once again via Lives of the Eminent Philosophers. He is also a candidate for “Know thyself,” see #2.
  11. The various translations of the Bhagavad Gita usually use a different wording, but the idea stays the same: “You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions.”
  12. This great analysis by Fake Buddha Quotes confirms that, though the wording might be modernized, the essence of the actual quote is real: “Much though he recites the sacred texts, but acts not accordingly, that heedless man is like a cowherd who only counts the cows of others — he does not partake of the blessings of the holy life.”
  13. Via Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao Te Ching.
  14. Confucius most likely originally used a metaphor to make this point, but several translations close to this line exist.
  15. Via Wikipedia, from his book Discourse on the Method.
  16. From Twilight of the Idols. The original German wording? “Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker.”
  17. Via Wikipedia, from his book Meditationes Sacrae. This line is such a common, proverbial saying, it’s hard to believe it can be traced back to a single person, but it can. Hats off, sir!
  18. Via Wikipedia, this one goes back to Kant’s essential essay Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment? Though first recorded by the ancient poet Horace in 20 BC in Latin, the phrase is inextricably linked to Kant and interpreted differently in a philosophical context. While it literally means “Dare to know,” the usually cited German variant, “Habe Mut, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen” (“Have the courage to use your own reason”) makes more sense here.
  19. Via his book The Social Contract.
  20. Via Wikipedia, from The Communist Manifesto, a book he co-authored with Friedrich Engels.
  21. Via Wikiquote, from his journals and originally in Danish.
  22. From his famous, often misinterpreted book The Prince. For a summary, see here.
  23. Via Wikiquote.
  24. From Pensées, in some translations worded as, “All the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.”
  25. Via Wikiquote, from his Philosophical Dictionary, originally published in French.
  26. Via Wikiquote, from Return to Tipasa, an essay included in his book Summer.
  27. Via Oxford Reference, from his Inaugural Address at St Andrew’s, given in 1867.
  28. From The World as Will and Representation, Vol. 2, p. 391, slightly contracted from the original “Talent is like the marksman who hits a target which others cannot reach; genius is like the marksman who hits a target, as far as which others cannot even see.”
  29. From his seminal and only book, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.
  30. Via Wikiquote, from his book Being and Nothingness.
  31. Via Wikiquote, from his book The Path to Tranquility.
  32. As in Atlas Shrugged.
  33. Via Wikiquote, from her book The Coming of Age.
  34. From his essay Of the Standard of Taste.
  35. Via Lives of the Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laërtius.
  36. From Epictetus’ Enchiridion. Various translations exist, such as: “O Destiny, wherever your decrees have fixed my station, I follow cheerfully; and, did I not, wicked and wretched, I must follow still.”
  37. Via New World Encyclopedia.
  38. As quoted by Seneca in his 5th Moral Letter to Lucilius.
  39. As written in his book De Officiis (On Duties).
  40. Quoted by Plutarch in Parallel Lives.
  41. From his 13th Moral Letter to Lucilius.
  42. A surviving fragment.
  43. As found in his book Enchiridion.
  44. Supposedly from Meditations, this might be the most popular Marcus Aurelius quote, but it is hard to track down. Though several similar sentiments appear in Meditations, it is possible that it is from an older, lost translation, since there are so many different versions of the book.
  45. In a collection of his notes called Striking Thoughts. For more Bruce Lee quotes, see here.
  46. From The Soul of Man Under Socialism. More than a playwright and socialite, Wilde reflected deeply on life, especially after being imprisoned for “gross indecency with men.” Homosexual acts, even when consensual, were illegal at the time.
  47. Lyrics from Me Against the World. Shakur, too, turned to philosophy while in prison.
  48. As cited by Tim Ferriss in his TED talk. You wouldn’t expect a lot of philosophy and poetry from a 4x weightlifting world champion and world record holder, but Jerzy is as thoughtful as he is fit.

More Philosophy Quotes

If you want more quotes about philosophy, we have several great starting points for you. The best, of course, is to get your wisdom straight from the source. Instead of recommending just one specific book, however, we suggest you look at some of the top philosophy titles, then pick the one that seems most interesting to you. To that end, our snazzy PDF of the 7 best philosophy books ever might help! You can download it below.

Want a list of the 7 best philosophy books of all time to learn more about Stoicism, Existentialism, and others straight from history’s greatest philosophers? Download our free PDF, print it, and get to know the many worldviews that can help us think and live better. Or save it for later and read it whenever you want!

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If you want to look at a wider selection of philosophy books, dive deeper into quotes of a specific philosophy, or learn more from a particular author, here are some other resources we’ve prepared for you and the next stage in your learning journey.

More Philosophy Books

More Philosophical Quote Lists

More Philosophy Authors

Whichever of these intuitively draws you in, just tap away and keep learning!


The 30 Best Philosophy Quotes for Sharing on Social Media

If you want to share the quotes on our list, you can use the “highlight and share” feature, of course. However, we’ve also made some custom images just for you. All you have to do is tap and share! Some of them, we’ve optimized for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Others are in Instagram’s old-school, square format. Finally, we have some for Pinterest’s vertical layout, too. Then again, nowadays, most formats work on most platforms.

Since none of the famous philosophers on this list dwell among us any longer, and most, if not all, of their works have entered the public domain, we decided to get creative with the background images for our quote images. We used the AI Stable Diffusion XL to make cool paintings, statues, and even group pictures of these world-famous philosophers. Hopefully, that’ll help bring their words to life for you and your friends. Happy sharing!

Oh, and if you want a ZIP-file of all quote images, including all backgrounds (and plenty of bonus, unused ones), you can download that here.

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44 Thought-Provoking Philosophical Quotes About Life #30


What Is Philosophy?

Growing up, I associated philosophy with old men sitting in dusty libraries, trying to decipher ancient texts in extinct languages. I think most people do. That’s because the first definition of philosophy you find in the Oxford Dictionary suggests it is “the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline.”

This academic discipline, however, has its roots in the second, much more important definition of philosophy: “a theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behavior.” This is why the first philosophers even began studying knowledge, reality, and existence. Without their desire to lead better lives, the entire academic field of philosophy wouldn’t even exist!

In other words, philosophy is any concept, rule, or idea that helps you make decisions, adjust your behavior, and move forward in life.

All the theoretical talk about reason, values, reality, and language comes later. First and foremost, philosophy is about how to live a good life, right here, right now.

With that established, we can argue about what “good” means — and that’s where philosophical discourse begins. In the earliest days of philosophy, for example, some of the various camps included the Stoics, the Cynics, the Epicureans, and the Hedonists. Not unlike political parties, the first two disagreed with the latter two on what constitutes “a good life,” and even while the individual pairings agreed on the goal, they, too, disagreed on how to get there.

Since philosophy is a worldview, a way of life, there is no right or wrong, and there can be as many variations of it as there are people on this Earth.

Not smoking is a philosophy. Exercising three times a week is a philosophy. Bootstrapping your business is a philosophy. Whatever totality of rules and principles makes up your worldview, that is your philosophy. So while we can study different branches, at the end of the day, our own philosophy will be completely unique to us.

Philosophy is about finding a strong set of guiding principles and adjusting it to our own, modern, everyday life. Then, we must continuously update those principles as we go along and try to make the best choices we can in order to live up to the values we have chosen. That is philosophy, and that’s why “philosophizing” is one of the best ways we can spend our time.


What Are the Different Schools of Philosophy?

Remember the ice cream analogy from the Stoic quotes section? Since people commonly disagree about which values are the best to aspire to, and which rules will us best live in accordance with them, many different schools of philosophy have formed over the centuries.

As a result, you and I can choose whatever flavor we like best! Some people prefer hedonism, which is rich and luxurious, like chocolate, while others enjoy Taoism, which is smooth and easygoing, like yogurt. Of course, as in any good ice cream shop, you can also mix and match flavors! You can add a bit of lemon with a big scoop of vanilla and only a dash of almond, or go all-in on three scoops of banana.

Wikipedia has two lists totaling several hundred different philosophies, so there is no shortage to choose from, be it to adopt a single, convincing philosophy wholesale or piece together your own from many sources.

While it might be tempting to just jump into the first philosophy that seems attractive to you at first sight, we highly recommend learning about a few different ones, then deciding. Chances are, you’ll have to change your philosophy many times throughout your life, and the more options you are equipped with, the better you can react to any shift in your personal circumstances.

Then again, with so many schools of philosophy out there, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself either. Here are 21 of the historically most important philosophies, each with a link to learn more about it. Take a look at a handful of them, then decide if and where you’d like to dive deeper.

  • Cynicism, one of the earliest philosophies, postulates we should “live naturally,” meaning without possessions, free from obligations, and with as little as we need.
  • Stoicism grew out of cynicism but was more practical, suggesting we should live virtuous lives, enjoy but not crave pleasure, and become indifferent to suffering.
  • Hedonism opposes cynicism, seeking to maximize pleasure and minimize pain, be it through sensual pleasures or by helping others.
  • Epicureanism is a less extreme form of hedonism with a stronger focus on helping others, a simple life, and moderate but sustainable pleasure.
  • Skepticism questions knowledge in various fields and sometimes even the idea that we can know anything for sure itself.
  • Nihilism claims life is inherently meaningless and that nothing has value, so it doesn’t matter what we do at all.
  • Absurdism proposes life is absurd and the universe is irrational, and that we are in conflict with these forces. This is our main struggle as humans.
  • Existentialism tries to fix nihilism by offering various ways of creating our own “meaning of life.”
  • Realism believes that various objects and ideas exist independently of our ability to perceive them.
  • Relativism suggests nothing in life is absolute and that things and situations depend on “the eye of the beholder.”
  • Pragmatism concerns itself less with thought and more with action, saying philosophy itself is most useful when practically applied to the real world.
  • Rationalism claims all knowledge comes from reasoning, and that thinking should be one of our primary activities.
  • Positivism holds the opposite belief, namely that all knowledge must come from evidence.
  • Empiricism wants to see evidence one can perceive with his own 5 senses before it agrees to anything.
  • Determinism rejects free will, asserting everything that happens has a prior, predetermined cause.
  • Marxism criticizes capitalism and offers alternative solutions for a productive society.
  • Objectivism, created by Ayn Rand, sees humans as heroes of reason with happiness as their main goal and “productive achievement” as their means of attaining it. 
  • Utilitarianism suggests we should aim to maximize the happiness and wellbeing of as many people as we can.
  • Buddhism sees desire as the primary cause of suffering and hopes to cure it with meditation.
  • Confucianism admonishes us to behave well, listen to our seniors and superiors, prioritize our families, and thus live ethically.
  • Taoism is a “go with the flow” philosophy, calling on us to be humble, frugal, and spontaneous.

As you can see, many philosophies directly oppose one another. Some are less extreme versions of others. Finally, some blend different ideas together. Learn more about the ones that fascinate you the most, then decide for yourself which most align with your personal goals and values.


Conclusion

That’s it for our list of the best philosophy quotes of all time. Do you have a favorite? Think we missed an important one? Let us know on Twitter. We’re always glad to receive feedback and improve our work. Hope you learned something new today, and until next time!


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:


The 365 Most Famous Quotes of All Time (in 27 Categories, Backed by Data & With Real Sources)

The 365 Most Famous Quotes of All Time (With Data & Real Sources) Cover

What are the most famous quotes of all time? I wanted to know. Like, really know. Sure, there are millions of popular quotes out there, but which ones are the most well-known all around the globe? Which ones do we love most universally and share with people over and over again?

Hi there! My name is Nik, and if you’re looking for the most famous quotes in history, be it to get inspired, find out who said a line you like, or improve your general knowledge, you’ve come to the right place! 

If you’re like me, you love a good quote — but you also want to know it’s real. You want to know the story and person behind it, and you’re not satisfied with a poor copy-and-paste job of largely misattributed lines. Sadly, that’s what most quote lists on the internet are.

Well, I’ve had enough of it. That’s why, over the last several months, I have conducted a personal study. I spent 100+ hours researching, analyzing, and verifying some of the most remarkable, memorable, and popular sentences human beings have ever come up with. The result is finally ready. If you want authentic, actually famous quotes that people in the real world know and can relate to, this is the single-best page on the internet to find them.

Want all 365 quotes in a convenient PDF so you can read one a day and stay inspired for a whole year with real wisdom from real people? 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 get a year’s worth of inspiration, free of charge!

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In this organized list, I’ve compiled what I have concluded are the most famous quotes of all time, based on two simple metrics:

  1. From friends to strangers in the street, if you randomly approached people and asked them, would they know or at least recognize these quotes?
  2. If they wouldn’t know the quote, would they know or at least recognize the person who said it? Are they widely considered to be one of the greatest in their field?

That’s my understanding of what it really means for a quote to be famous. But more on the exact methodology later.

I’ve grouped a total of 365 quotes — one for each day of the year — into 27 categories. They range from the most famous quotes overall to the most popular ones based on reader votes to the most famous sayings in different fields and disciplines. At the end of this list, you’ll also find a “best of” selection, where I created some custom images for you to conveniently share your favorite lines on social media. And, of course, a dedicated sources section with full credits and citations.

The easiest way to navigate this list is to use the clickable table of contents below. Jump to whichever section interests you the most, and instantly start learning! If you want to share any quote, just highlight it on the page, and sharing options for several platforms will appear. Or, just use the images in the last section of this list.

For a quick primer on how I assembled the list, you can go to the methodology section at the very end. Otherwise, jump wherever and enjoy some of the most brilliant sentences humans have ever come up with.

Let’s dive into the most famous quotes of all time! May they inspire you in 2024 and beyond!


Table of Contents

The 10 Most Famous Quotes Overall

The 10 Most Famous Quotes in the History of Mankind Cover

What are the 10 most popular phrases in the history of mankind? That’s as tough of a question as it gets. Here’s my attempt at an answer: If we’re considering everyday use, I think technically, all of the most famous quotes would be proverbs. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and so on. But hardly anyone knows their sources, so I went with a different approach:

What are the most famous quotes from the most famous people in the most famous categories? I used Google search volume, reported data, and other indicators (if a phrase has its own Wikipedia entry, that’s a good sign, for example) to pick what I think are the most recognizable quotes in 10 categories: religion, military leaders, ancient and modern philosophy, famous poets and poems, great novels and fictional characters, as well as sports and explorers.

These quotes would be at the top of their respective categories, but since we don’t do double-mentions, I’ve grouped them together in this overall category that takes the crown. For details, see the source notes.

Here are the 10 most famous quotes of all time:

1. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” — Jesus Christ

2. “Veni, vidi, vici. I came, I saw, I conquered.” — Julius Caesar

3. “I know that I know nothing.” — Socrates

4. “Cogito ergo sum. I think; therefore I am.” — René Descartes

5. “To be, or not to be: that is the question.” — William Shakespeare

6. “Carpe diem — Seize the day.” — Horace

7. “With great power comes great responsibility.” — Stan Lee

8. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” — Wayne Gretzky

9. “Fortes Fortuna adiuvat — Fortune favors the bold.” — Virgil

10. “Knowledge is power.” — Sir Francis Bacon


The 10 Most Famous Quotes Based on Reader Votes

The 10 Most Famous Quotes Ever (Based on Reader Votes) Cover

The book review and tracking platform Goodreads has over 125 million members. Therefore, when it comes to famous quotes from books and writers but also celebrities in general, they have a great amount of data available. As you might expect, the results here skew towards people who love books and reading. Still, their top 10 quotes of all time aren’t just from writers. The list includes scientists, politicians, comedians, and civil rights icons. It is also riddled with misattributions.

Of the top 10 most liked quotes on Goodreads, 7 are outright misattributed, 2 have shaky sourcing, and only 1 is correct — and even that line has been flipped upside down. However, none of that has hurt their popularity. In fact, it has likely helped. We love to believe we’re quoting Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, or Gandhi. Even when that’s not actually the case, the ideas are still great.

Each of the following quotes has received over 100,000 likes on Goodreads. Only 2 other quotes outside of the top 10 meet this criterion. You’ll find both of those elsewhere on this list.

So here, with correct attribution, are the 10 most famous quotes based on reader votes:

11. “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” — Anonymous

12. “I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” — Anonymous

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

14. “So many books, so little time.” — J. J. Wright

15. “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero

16. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” — Anonymous

17. “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.” — Susanna Clark & Richard Leigh

18. “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” — Anonymous

19. “You only live once, but if you work it right, once is enough.” — Joe E. Lewis

20. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Arleen Lorrance & Mahatma Gandhi


10 Famous Quotes From Great Women of History

10 Great Quotes From Famous Women of History Cover

When you focus on the facts of a situation rather than what you wish to be true, you’ll often realize reality is not as pretty as you’d like it to be. When it comes to quotes, “the greatest X” lists, and basically anything to do with history, one of those ugly truths is that women have been — and still are — chronically underrepresented. That’s sad but not surprising. For thousands of years, women weren’t allowed to do much of anything! The repression was real.

While it’s a better time than ever to be a woman in tech, science, art, business, politics, sports, and pretty much any other field, we still have a long way to go to global gender equality. It’s only a small contribution, but as a counterweight to the many men throughout this list, I included 10 famous quotes from some of the most important and influential women throughout history:

21. “I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.” — Queen Elizabeth I

22. “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” — Rosa Parks

23. “A great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache.” — Catherine the Great

24. “We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.” — Malala Yousafzai

25. “At this moment I am in a charming state of confusion; but it is that sort of confusion which is of a very bubble nature. I have no doubts it will all come out clean enough tomorrow.” — Ada Lovelace

26. “I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took an excuse.” — Florence Nightingale

27. “Feet, what do I need them for if I have wings to fly?” — Frida Kahlo

28. “Do your best — but like it. Like what you do, and then you will do your best.” — Katherine Johnson

29. “It’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.” — Queen Elizabeth II

30. “You look at science as some sort of demoralising invention of man, something apart from real life, and which must be cautiously guarded and kept separate from everyday existence. But science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.” — Rosalind Franklin


The 10 Most Famous Quotes From Spiritual & Religious Leaders

The 10 Most Famous Quotes From Religious & Spiritual Leaders Cover

If you made a true-to-the-numbers list of the bestselling books of all time, at least four of the first five books would be religious texts. The Bible has sold over 5 billion copies. That’s more than one for every two people on Earth! Other contenders for the billion-sales category include the Qur’an, the Bhagavad Gita, and Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book. Case in point: Some ideas from the big world religions are among the most popular of all time, and so are the leaders of these movements.

Here are 10 of the most famous quotes from the most famous spiritual leaders in history:

31. “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” — Jesus Christ

32. “My mercy encompasses all things.” — Muhammad

33. “However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?” — Buddha

34. “Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward. Work not for a reward, but never cease to do thy work.” — Vyasa

35. “A penny saved is better than a penny earned.” — Martin Luther

36. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” — John 3:16, The Holy Bible

37. “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” — Dalai Lama XIV

38. “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” — Confucius

39. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ― Lao Tzu

40. “It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the action that we do.” — Mother Teresa


The 10 Most Famous Quotes From Historic Military Leaders

The 10 Most Famous Quotes From Historic Military Leaders Cover

Given that, over the last three millennia, there have only been 268 years in which no two countries were at war, it should not be surprising that some of the most memorable lines in history were uttered by soldiers, generals, and commanders.

Here are 10 of them you are likely to recognize in some form:

41. “Make haste slowly.” — Augustus

42. “There is nothing impossible to him who will try.” — Alexander the Great

43. “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” — Napoleon Bonaparte

44. “Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting — Sun Tzu

45. “I am the punishment of God. If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.” — Genghis Khan

46. “I will either find a way, or make one.” — Hannibal

47. “Eat well, for tonight we dine in Hades.” — King Leonidas of Sparta

48. “Then we will fight in the shade.” — Dienekes of Sparta

49. “If they do not comply with my wishes, we shall settle the difference with arms.” — Attila the Hun

50. “Right action is better than knowledge; but in order to do what is right, we must know what is right.” — Charlemagne


Top 10 Most Popular Quotes From Famous Ancient Philosophers

Top 10 Quotes From Famous Ancient Philosophers Cover

Thankfully, history class teaches us more than who doled out the most violence to whom. When it comes to the ancient Greeks and Romans, a good amount of information about their brightest minds survives to this day, including some of their best lines.

Though you can find countless quotes wrongly attributed to them these days, there are also plenty of real gems in the few written works that have made it to the modern world.

Here are 10 quotes from eminent philosophers that I think you might recognize, and that I was best able to verify as actually originating from them:

51. “Know thyself.” — Aristotle

52. “The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.” — Plato

53. “You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” — Marcus Aurelius

54. “We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we speak.” — Zeno of Citium

55. “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” — Seneca

56. “Men are disturbed not by things but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things.” — Epictetus

57. “He who is not satisfied with a little, is satisfied with nothing.” — Epicurus

58. “You could not step twice into the same river.” — Heraclitus

59. “I am a citizen of the world.” — Diogenes

60. “The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.” — Thales


Top 14 Most Popular Quotes From Famous Modern Philosophers (Post-15th Century)

Top 14 Quotes From Famous Modern Philosophers Cover

After an early peak in intellectual activity, the advancement of human thought went dark for almost 1,500 years, at least in the West. From the year 0 all the way past the Middle Ages, philosophy (and civilization in general) had little to show for.

That all changed with the Renaissance and later the Enlightenment period, starting from around 1300 AD in Italy, particularly Florence. It was a time of reason, art, philosophy, culture, and technology. With it came countless intellectual breakthroughs.

Here are 14 lines from world-famous thinkers that originated between the 15th and 20th century and that have stayed with us ever since:

61. “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

62. “Sapere aude. Dare to think.” — Immanuel Kant

63. “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

64. “Workers of the world, unite!” — Karl Marx

65. “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” — Søren Kierkegaard

66. “One ought to be both feared and loved, but as it is difficult for the two to go together, it is much safer to be feared than loved, if one of the two has to be wanting.” — Niccolò Machiavelli

67. “Every man I meet is in some way my superior, and in that, I can learn of him.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

68. “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” — Blaise Pascal

69. “Common sense is not so common.” — Voltaire

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

71. “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” — John Stuart Mill

72. “Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

73. “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein

74. “Man is condemned to be free.” — Jean-Paul Sartre


The 10 Best Quotes From History’s Greatest Scientists

The 10 Best Quotes From History’s Greatest Scientists Cover

Philosophy is great and important, but without science, our foremost thinkers wouldn’t have much time to, well, think. It is thanks to scientific discoveries that we have more free time than ever. Science is also behind ever-declining infant mortality rates, poverty, and hunger. It also prompts us to learn ever more about the world and our place in it.

Based on quote credit received, be it for things he actually said or not, Albert Einstein is by far the most popular scientist in history. Everyone knows his name. Beyond his witty lines, genius theories, and accurate predictions, his hair and tongue-wagging picture have made him famous all around the world. That said, plenty of other great minds deserve our attention too.

From the lightbulb to relativity to our co-existence with animals and the nature of the universe, here are 10 fantastic quotes from history’s greatest scientists:

75. “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” — Albert Einstein

76. “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” — Isaac Newton

77. “Give me a lever and a place to stand, and I will move the earth.” — Archimedes

78. “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” — Marie Curie

79. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas Edison

80. “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” — Galileo Galilei

81. “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” — Charles Darwin

82. “We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.” — Stephen Hawking

83. “The Sun resides at the centre of everything.” — Nicolaus Copernicus

84. “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.” — Richard Feynman


The 10 Best Quotes From History’s Greatest Painters

The 10 Best Quotes From History’s Greatest Artists Cover

Going from science to art, it might be a surprise that history’s most famous painter incorporated plenty of both into his work. I am talking, of course, about Leonardo Da Vinci. In 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, I went to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. I’ll never forget standing alone in a room with not one, not two, but three of Da Vinci’s masterpieces.

Da Vinci added a new sense of realism to paintings, thanks to his studies of anatomy and physics. He also contributed breakthrough ideas in architecture, weaponry, botany, and a variety of other fields. Combine that with the Mona Lisa, the world’s most famous painting, and Salvator Mundi, the most expensive one, and you have a winner.

That said, in our list of the 10 best quotes from history’s most famous painters, you’ll also find two of his contemporaries. Here they are:

85. “Painting is poetry which is seen and not heard, and poetry is a painting which is heard but not seen.” — Leonardo Da Vinci

86. “Beauty is the purgation of superfluities.” — Michelangelo

87. “I am always doing what I can’t do yet in order to learn how to do it.” — Vincent van Gogh

88. “When there’s anything to steal, I steal.” — Pablo Picasso

89. “Don’t be afraid of perfection. You will never attain it!” — Salvador Dalí

90. “The further I get, the more I regret how little I know.” — Claude Monet

91. “From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them, and that is eternity.” — Edvard Munch

92. “They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” — Andy Warhol

93. “When one is painting one does not think.” — Raphael

94. “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” — Henri Matisse


Top 10 Well-Known Quotes From History’s Most Famous Poets

Top 10 Well-Known Quotes From History’s Most Famous Poets Cover

When I was writing my Bachelor’s thesis, my advisor once told me: “Watch your language. You are alternating between Shakespeare and slang.” Nowadays, I think that has become somewhat a trademark of mine — and is actually part of my writing’s charm. But I guess in an academic paper, that didn’t account for much.

The reason my advisor was using Shakespeare as a reference for poetry is simple: He is the most famous poet of all time. On Time’s list of history’s most significant people, he even takes the #4 spot, leaving George Washington, Hitler, and even Julius Caesar in his dust. He’s not the only great poet, of course.

Thankfully, famous quotes from poets are relatively easy to source because, well, they wrote them all down! Here are 10 of their best lines from interviews, notebooks, plays, and other sources. A separate section with actual poems comes next.

95. “To thine own self be true.” — William Shakespeare

96. “The drop hollows out the stone, not by force but by falling often.” — Ovid

97. “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” — Robert Frost

98. “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” — Oscar Wilde

99. “What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.” — Maya Angelou

100. “I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” — Edgar Allan Poe

101. “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” — Charlotte Brontë

102. “Resist much, obey little.” — Walt Whitman

103. “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” — Rudyard Kipling

104. “To be nobody-but-yourself-in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else-means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” — E.E. Cummings


14 Famous Lines From the Most Iconic Poems

Top 14 Quotes From History's Most Famous Poems Cover

While it’s great that poets are witty outside of their chosen line of work too, we can’t forget about the main event: the poems. Not all of them rhyme, but some are so catchy, they’ve become Hollywood stars! Interstellar heavily features Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that good night,” and Invictus is even titled after William Henley’s poem. Others have become everyday phrases, viral videos, or all-time great advertising campaigns.

Here are 14 lines and sections from the most famous poems of all time:

105. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” — William Shakespeare

106. “All hope abandon, ye who enter here.” — Dante Alighieri

107. “I shall be telling this with a sigh,
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” — Robert Frost

108. “You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.” — Maya Angelou

109. “I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.” — Pablo Neruda

110. “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.” — Walt Whitman

111. “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” — Percy Bysshe Shelley

112. “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers,
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.” — Emily Dickinson

113. “It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul.” — William Ernest Henley

114. “Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” — Dylan Thomas

115. “To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.” — William Blake

116. “If you’re going to try, go all the way.
Otherwise, don’t even start.
If you’re going to try, go all the way.” — Charles Bukowski

117. “There is always light.
Only if we are brave enough to see it.
There is always light.
Only if we are brave enough to be it.” — Amanda Gorman

118. “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. […] And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” — Rob Siltanen & Lee Clow


Top 10 Well-Known Quotes From History’s Most Famous Musicians

The 10 Best Quotes From History’s Greatest Musicians Cover

He was not a musician, and it is not the quote he is featured with on this list, but even someone as skeptical of everything as the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche had to admit: “Without music, life would be a mistake.”

Given their preoccupation with writing, recording, and performing music (and often chaotic lifestyles), however, real quotes from great musicians are hard to track down. This might be the most painstakingly assembled section of this list. Thankfully, I had music to keep me company.

Here are 10 quotes from the greatest musicians of all time:

119. “All I insist on, and nothing else, is that you should show the whole world that you are not afraid. Be silent, if you choose; but when it is necessary, speak—and speak in such a way that people will remember it.” — Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

120. “I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed equally well.” — Johann Sebastian Bach

121. “Someone who is born a master always has the lowest standing among masters.” — Richard Wagner

122. “There is a season for everything, patience will reward you and reveal all answers to your questions.” — Elvis Presley

123. “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” — Ludwig van Beethoven

124. “The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.” — B.B. King

125. “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.” — Bob Dylan

126. “Possessions make you rich? I don’t have that type of richness. My richness is life, forever.” — Bob Marley

127. “If you still have to ask [what jazz is], shame on you.” — Louis Armstrong

128. “My language is understood all over the world.” — Joseph Haydn


12 Famous Lyrics From Chart-Topping Songs Everyone Knows

Top 12 Famous Lyrics From Chart-Topping Songs Everyone Knows Cover

When it comes to music, especially classical pieces, everyone can hum their melodies, but no one knows which piece is which. Thank god for Youtube compilations. As soon as you add lyrics, however, it’s a different story. Most people probably sing some line or other from a song they like every single day — but once again, the question remains: Which are the most famous?

Tastes in music are incredibly subjective, of course. What’s more, every country has famous songs in their own language, from their national anthem to local pop music. In Wikipedia’s list of the best-selling singles of all time, however, I found at least some degree of objectivity in which song lyrics most people are likely to recognize. At over 50 million copies sold, Bing Crosby’s “White  Christmas” tops the list.

Like Celine Dion’s heart, however, I could go on and on when it comes to famous song lyrics. Therefore, here’s just a small selection of 12 famous, chart-topping lyrics you are likely to recognize:

129. “I’m dreamin’ of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.” — Bing Crosby, White Christmas

130. “And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never fading with the sunset
When the rain set in.” — Elton John, Candle in the Wind

131. “R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Find out what it means to me
R-E-S-P-E-C-T
All I’m askin’
(Oo) Is for a little respect.” — Aretha Franklin, Respect

132. “Hello, hello, hello
With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid, and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us.” — Nirvana, Smells Like Teen Spirit

133. “Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?” — Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody

134. “I can’t get no satisfaction.” — The Rolling Stones, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

135. “And I… will always love you.” — Dolly Parton, I Will Always Love You

136. “We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving.” — USA for Africa, We Are the World

137. “Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on
Once more, you open the door
And you’re here in my heart
And my heart will go on and on.” — Celine Dion, My Heart Will Go On

138. “I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you.” — Mariah Carey, All I Want For Christmas Is You

139. “You may say I’m a dreamer,
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.” — John Lennon, Imagine

140. “I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways; And no message could have been any clearer, If you wanna make the world a better place, Take a look at yourself, and then make a change!” — Michael Jackson, Man in the Mirror


10 Iconic Quotes From History’s Most Famous Actors & Actresses

The 10 Best Quotes From History's Most Famous Actors & Actresses Cover

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” Who said that? You’ll see in the bonus section. 😁 But a moving picture? Damn. Imagine how crazy it must have felt to see one of the first movies in the early 1900s. Back then, they were all silent, of course. Real movies with picture and sound, the way we know and love them today, are less than 100 years old. That’s still more than enough for plenty of iconic one-liners, of course. But let’s start with the great men and women behind the roles they’ve played.

Even with plenty of interviews, good lines from actors outside of their movies are hard to find and harder yet to verify. The American Film Institute’s list, “100 Years…100 Stars” helped a lot. Wikipedia adds further info. Several lists with reader votes on Ranker helped as well.

With over a million searches each month, likely due to her status as the world’s first global sex symbol combined with her tragic death at an early age, Marilyn Monroe tops this list. Contemporary actors, like Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, and Will Smith, for example, might get more attention, but that’s usually because they have a new movie, a court trial, or an Oscar-slapping situation going on. Given how long she hasn’t been around, Marilyn’s endurance is remarkable — but so are her peers’ compelling ideas.

Here are 10 famous quotes from history’s most famous actors and actresses, in their own words:

141. “The truth is I’ve never fooled anyone. I’ve let men sometimes fool themselves. Men sometimes didn’t bother to find out who and what I was. Instead, they would invent a character for me. I wouldn’t argue with them. They were obviously loving somebody I wasn’t. When they found this out, they would blame me for disillusioning them — and fooling them.” — Marilyn Monroe

142. “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” — James Dean

143. “Imagination means nothing without doing.” — Charlie Chaplin

144. “You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” — Robin Williams

145. “The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy. We can all sense a mysterious connection to each other.” — Meryl Streep

146. “Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only with what you are expecting to give — which is everything.” ― Katharine Hepburn

147. “Do what you gotta do so you can do what you wanna do.” — Denzel Washington

148. “Failure is a massive part of being able to be successful. You have to get comfortable with failure. You have to actually seek failure. Failure is where all of the lessons are.” — Will Smith

149. “Love is the best, and you’re lucky to get it. But even if you’re not getting it, you can still give it.” — Helena Bonham Carter

150. “What happens after we die? I know the ones who love us will miss us.” — Keanu Reeves


The 20 Most Famous Lines From All-Time Classic Movies

The 20 Most Famous Movie Quotes From All-Time Classic Films Cover

Of course, you can’t talk about movies without the epic moments that make them memorable. Sometimes, those moments come down to great camera work, awesome costume design, or stunning visual effects. Mostly, however, they are rooted in great dialogue. Whether it’s a one-liner, an emotional confession, or an epic comeback speech, movies live and die with words.

When it comes to which are the best ones, I once again relied on Google search volume, combined with another AFI list: “100 Years…100 Movie Quotes.” Thanks again to Wikipedia for the added context on that list.

Here are 20 of the most famous lines from some of the greatest movies of all time:

151. “May the Force be with you.” — Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope

152. “My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” — Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) in Forrest Gump

153. “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.” ― Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) in The Godfather

154. “I’ll be back.” — The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) in The Terminator

155. “YOU. SHALL NOT. PASS!” — Gandalf (Ian McKellen) in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

156. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” — Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) in Gone With the Wind

157. “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” — Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) in The Wizard of Oz

158. “To infinity and beyond!” — Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) in Toy Story

159. “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!” — William Wallace (Mel Gibson) in Braveheart

160. “Life finds a way.” — Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) in Jurassic Park

161. “You can’t handle the truth!”— Col. Nathan R. Jessup (Jack Nicholson) in A Few Good Men

162. “Show me the money!” — Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.) in Jerry Maguire 

163. “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” — Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) in Wall Street

164. “I’m the king of the world!” — Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) in Titanic

165. “Magic Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” — The Evil Queen (Lucille La Verne) in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

166. “The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You do NOT talk about Fight Club.” — Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) in Fight Club

167. “Just keep swimming.” — Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) in Finding Nemo

168. “It’s alive! It’s alive!” — Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) in Frankenstein

169. “Are you not entertained?” — Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe) in Gladiator

170. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” — Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off


15 Iconic Quotes From History’s Most Famous Writers

The 15 Best Quotes From History's Greatest Writers Cover

Be it movies, songs, or poems, at the end of the day, nearly all art is written. Therefore, the most influential writers are some of the most influential people, period. Famous for the words they’ve put on the page, they also tend to have good ideas “off the books” — pun intended.

The following 15 quotes are from interviews, essays, (auto)biographies, and the lesser known works of some of history’s most relevant writers. For the top highlights from great novels, see the next category. Here are some world-famous scribes in their own words:

171. Appearances often are deceiving.” — Aesop

172. “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” — Ernest Hemingway

173. “Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

174. “Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” — Mark Twain

175. “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” — Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

176. “It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous, that you realize just how much you love them!” — Agatha Christie, Agatha Christie: An Autobiography

177. “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” — Leo Tolstoy

178. “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” — Anne Frank

179. “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” — Victor Hugo

180. “The best way to treat obstacles is to use them as stepping-stones.” — Enid Blyton

181. “Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” — Virginia Woolf

182. “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” — Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

183. “When we take people merely as they are, we make them worse; when we treat them as if they were what they should be, we help them become what they can be.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

184. “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” — Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

185. “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was Dostoevsky and Dickens who taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” — James Baldwin


The 20 Most Famous Lines From the Greatest Novels of All Time

The 20 Most Famous Lines From the Greatest Novels of All Time Cover

Now that we’ve picked the most well-known writers’ brains, let’s pick their pages, shall we? To compile some of the greatest novels of all time, I used Wikipedia’s list of the best-selling books ever, several lists with the most-rated books on Goodreads and their top quotes, and Shane Sherman’s Greatest Books of All Time” website for a mix of modern, old, and classic titles.

Besides religious texts, only a few books (or book series) have sold more than 100 million copies, such as Harry Potter (the first book alone), The Hunger Games, and The Lord of the Rings (the Hobbit alone, but the trilogy as well). Others haven’t sold as many but are known the world over because they are taught in every English class ever. Some owe their popularity to successful movie adaptations.

Whatever the reason for their persistence in our collective memory, here are 20 of the most famous quotes from some of the greatest novels ever written:

186. “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” — J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

187. “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.” — H. Jackson Brown Jr., P.S. I Love You

188. “It is never too late to be wise.” — Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe

189. “Men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they desire.” — Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code

190. “All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings #1, The Fellowship of the Ring

191. “I am not proud, but I am happy; and happiness blinds, I think, more than pride.” — Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

192. “As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” ― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

193. “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.” — J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

194. “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

195. “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

196. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

197. “Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.” — George Orwell, 1984

198. “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

199. “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” — George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

200. “The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.” — Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

201. “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.” — Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

202. “To go wrong in one’s own way is better than to go right in someone else’s.” ― Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment

203. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

204. “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” ― Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

205. “He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” — Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights


10 Famous Quotes From the Bestselling Nonfiction Books of All Time

The 10 Best Quotes From the Bestselling Nonfiction Books of All Time Cover

While a great story will always top the bestseller list over a great textbook, that doesn’t mean all amazing stories have to be invented. When it comes to the most popular nonfiction books, some have sold up to 50 million copies. That said, if a nonfiction book sells more than 10 million copies, it is already an absolute hall-of-famer. According to Wikipedia, only 40 titles have accomplished that feat. I know of at least one more: Atomic Habits by James Clear. Still, the total is probably far less than 100. With over 129 million books in print since 1440, according to Google Books, that’s literally less than one in a million.

Here are 10 of the most famous quotes from some of these nonfiction unicorns:

206. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” — Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

207. “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” — Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life

208. “It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.” — Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

209. “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” — Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?

210. “Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.” — Carl Sagan, Cosmos

211. “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” — Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

212. “The universe doesn’t allow perfection.” — Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

213. “One way to remember who you are is to remember who your heroes are.” — Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs

214. “Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” — Louise Hay, You Can Heal Your Life

215. “Acceptance means no complaining, and happiness means no complaining about the things over which you can do nothing.” — Wayne Dyer, Your Erroneous Zones


10 Famous Phrases From Iconic Fictional Characters

Top 10 Famous Phrases From Iconic Fictional Characters Cover

“A shoe is just a shoe — until someone steps into it.” That’s a good line. But it only becomes a great line once you know who said it: Michael Jordan’s mother, the moment the Nike Air was born. Or did she? Actually, the writers of the movie Air put these words into her mouth. The point is that quotes are like shoes: Most of their power often rests in who says them, not what they convey — and sometimes, the best person to share an important truth with us is someone who never existed at all.

When it comes to the most iconic invented characters, the man who tops the list is someone so famous, a great deal of people believe he actually existed: Sherlock Holmes. With over 25,000 works featuring him in the first 100 years since his creation, Guinness World Records calls him “the most portrayed literary human character in film and TV.” I mean, the man has a real-life secretary who receives 3 letters a day, for Watson’s sake! Still, he isn’t alone in delivering powerful advice and shocking revelations.

Here are 10 famous quotes from iconic fictional characters that no real person could ever have delivered as impressively:

216. “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” — Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)

217.  “Shaken, not stirred.” — James Bond (Ian Fleming)

218. “I am your father.” — Darth Vader (Star Wars, George Lucas)

219. “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” — Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling)

220. “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do, that defines me.” — Bruce Wayne (Batman, Bob Kane & Bill Finger)

221. “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” — Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien)

222. “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where—”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.” — Alice and the Cheshire Cat (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll)

223. “You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” — Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone)

224. “Fire is catching! And if we burn, you burn with us!” — Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins)

225. “What’s up, Doc?” — Bugs Bunny (Looney Tunes, Tex Avery)


10 Notable Quotes From History’s Most Famous Politicians

The 10 Best Quotes From History's Greatest Politicians

Speaking of fiction, what about politics? Unfortunately, most modern politicians’ words seem to indeed be rooted much more in fantasy than fact. Where are the icons? The true characters? The people not afraid to rub some folks the wrong way to stand up for what they believe in? Apparently, mostly in history books. Sigh.

On Time’s list of the most influential people in history, Abraham Lincoln takes spot #5 as the highest-ranking “pure-bred” politician. Before US democracy, most leaders drew their power entirely from military might. Lincoln had a civil war to win, too, but without being elected by the people, he couldn’t have won anything at all. In the 200 years from 1700-1900, politics shifted from “win wars” to “win elections” globally, even if the system is still far from perfect today.

That’s why you’ll see several US presidents as well as mostly past-1900 politicians on this list. Here are 10 of the most notable quotes from famous politicians:

226. “Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today.” — Abraham Lincoln

227. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

228. “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” — John F. Kennedy

229. “To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.” — Winston Churchill

230. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” — Thomas Jefferson

231. “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” — Nelson Mandela

232. “In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.” ― Margaret Thatcher

233. “Preventive war is like committing suicide for fear of death.” — Otto von Bismarck

234. “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” — Barack Obama

235. “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” — Benjamin Franklin


15 Powerful Segments From the Most Memorable Speeches

Top 15 Powerful Quotes From the Most Famous Speeches in History Cover

One thing politicians do excel at, at least on occasion, is giving a good speech. But they’re not the only ones! Scientists, teachers, authors, businessmen, civil rights activists, and athletes have all wowed us with powerful, clearly spoken words in the past.

While we can rarely remember all those words in order, often, all it takes is a little fragment to remind us how we felt when we heard them. If I say, “I have a dream,” you immediately know what and who I mean — and what Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech represents.

For a refresher on his and other famous speeches, see below. It’s impossible to say exactly which is the most popular and well-known, but I think our top 3 are good candidates, and all of them are worth listening to (or reading) in their entirety.

Here are 15 powerful excerpts from some of history’s most famous and memorable speeches:

236. “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” — Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, 1863

237. “We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.” — Winston Churchill, We Shall Fight on the Beaches, 1940

238. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!” — Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream, 1963

239. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face in marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” — Theodore Roosevelt, Citizenship in a Republic, 1910

240. “And we perfect, most dangerously, our children. Let me tell you what we think about children. They’re hardwired for struggle when they get here. And when you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not to say, ‘Look at her, she’s perfect. My job is just to keep her perfect — make sure she makes the tennis team by fifth grade and Yale by seventh.’ That’s not our job. Our job is to look and say, ‘You know what? You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.’ That’s our job. Show me a generation of kids raised like that, and we’ll end the problems, I think, that we see today.” — Brené Brown, The Power of Vulnerability, 2010

241. “For the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. When you look around, wouldn’t you consider it a privilege to associate yourself with such a fine looking men as they’re standing in uniform in this ballpark today? Sure, I’m lucky. […] So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for. Thank you.” — Lou Gehrig, Farewell to Baseball, 1939

242. “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it and what you do simply proves what you believe. In fact, people will do the things that prove what they believe. The reason that person bought the iPhone in the first six hours, stood in line for six hours, was because of what they believed about the world, and how they wanted everybody to see them: they were first. People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” — Simon Sinek, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, 2009

243. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” — Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Address, 2005

244. “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” — John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, 1961

245. “Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” — J. K. Rowling, Harvard Commencement Address, 2008

246. “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope? How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you! [..] You are failing us… But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.” — Greta Thunberg, How Dare You, 2019

247. “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” — Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture, 2007

248. “What these things have in common is that kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go. Am I right? They’re not frightened of being wrong. I don’t mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative. What we do know is, if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original — if you’re not prepared to be wrong. And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong. And we run our companies like this. We stigmatize mistakes. And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. And the result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities.” — Sir Ken Robinson, Do Schools Kill Creativity?, 2006

249. “If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely — and the right to be heard.” — Hillary Clinton, Women’s Rights Are Human Rights, 1995

250. “Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman?” — Sojourner Truth, Ain’t I A Woman?, 1851


20 Notable Quotes From History’s Most Famous Businessmen and Women

The 20 Best Quotes From History's Greatest Businessmen and Women Cover

Every generation has its builders. In the 15th century, it was the Medici family in Florence, who consolidated wealth and power in their bankers’ family, then used it to support art and science. The Men Who Built America, a documentary about turn-of-the-century innovators in the late 1800s, shows how Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Ford, and J. P. Morgan turned railways, steel, oil, cars, and banking into everyday availabilities.

Big business comes with big money. If you want to know who the most famous contemporary businessmen and -women are, look no further than Forbes’ real-time billionaires ranking. What started as an annual list almost 40 years ago now offers live data on who’s most successful in business. Fame doesn’t correlate 100% with money, but it does tend to come as a byproduct. Elon Musk, currently the world’s richest man, also happens to be the most followed account on Twitter (or X, as it is now called).

If I had to guess who’s the most famous businessperson of the last 100 years, I’d be pretty confident in picking Steve Jobs. His story is incredible, from ushering in the computer age to his dramatic departure from and return to Apple, to the iPhone, a complete mobile revolution now owned by 1 in 5 people on the planet, to his early death at just 56 years old. Combine all that with a Stanford commencement speech that went around the world and is quoted to this day, and you have a winner.

That said, plenty of women have changed how we live and work too, from Spanx inventor Sara Blakely to entertainment powerhouse Oprah Winfrey. Here are 20 famous quotes worth remembering from the greatest businessmen and -women:

251. “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” — Steve Jobs

252. “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” — Bill Gates

253. “I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” — John D. Rockefeller

254. “A sunny disposition is worth more than fortune. Young people should know that it can be cultivated; that the mind, like the body can be moved from the shade into sunshine.” ― Andrew Carnegie

255. “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.” — Henry Ford

256. “The first thing is character […] before money or anything else. Money cannot buy it. A man I do not trust could not get money from me on all the bonds in Christendom.” — J. P. Morgan

257. “There is only one boss: the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” — Sam Walton

258. “I was an overnight success all right, but thirty years is a long, long night.” — Ray Kroc

259. “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” — Jack Welch

260. “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” — Warren Buffett

261. “Today is difficult, tomorrow is much more difficult, but the day after tomorrow is beautiful.” — Jack Ma

262. “The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” — Mark Zuckerberg

263. “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” — Elon Musk

264. “When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.” — Jeff Bezos

265. “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” — Richard Branson

266. “Never make a big decision without sleeping on it.” — Martha Stewart

267. “We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.” — Arianna Huffington

268. “‘Listen to me,’ my mother replied. ‘You may be the president or whatever of PepsiCo, but when you come home, you are a wife and a mother and a daughter. Nobody can take your place. So you leave that crown in the garage.’” — Indra Nooyi

269. “My dad would actually encourage me to fail growing up. I would come home from school and he would say to my brother and I: ‘So what’d you guys fail at this week?’ And if we didn’t have something, he would actually be disappointed. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was just changing my definition of failure. My definition of failure became not about the outcome, but about not trying.” — Sara Blakely

270. “Turn your wounds into wisdom. You will be wounded many times in your life. You’ll make mistakes. Some people will call them failures but I have learned that failure is really God’s way of saying, ‘Excuse me, you’re moving in the wrong direction.’ It’s just an experience, just an experience.” — Oprah Winfrey


15 Memorable Slogans From the World’s Most Popular Brands

Top 15 Memorable Slogans From the World’s Most Popular Brands Cover

Just like fictional characters can sometimes be more convincing messengers than their creators, brands can occasionally send powerful messages even the most charismatic figureheads can’t get across. 

The most popular brand slogan of all time? That’s easy. It’s not just the world’s #1 sports company’s swooshing logo you can find on people’s t-shirts in even the remotest part of the Amazon jungle. Their tagline is also something everyone knows: Nike’s “Just Do It.” From great commercials to internet memes to thoughtful essays, this serial killer-inspired line (seriously!) is everywhere.

Of course, Nike aren’t the only ones to come up with a catchy line over the years. Here are 15 of the most famous slogans of all time:

271. “Just do it.” — Nike

272. “Think different.” — Apple

273. “A diamond is forever.” — De Beers

274. “The happiest place on earth.” — Disneyland

275. “I’m lovin’ it.” — McDonald’s

276. “All the news that’s fit to print.” — The New York Times

277. “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s Mastercard.” — Mastercard

278. “It’s finger lickin’ good.” — Kentucky Fried Chicken

279. “Sheer driving pleasure.” — BMW

280. “Because you’re worth it.” — L’Oréal Paris

281. “Have a break…have a KitKat.” — KitKat

282. “Red Bull gives you wings.” — RedBull

283. “Taste the rainbow.” — Skittles

284. “Vorsprung durch Technik.” — Audi (“Advancement through technology.”)

285. “Belong anywhere.” — AirBnB


The 15 Most Famous Quotes From the Greatest Explorers of All Time

The 15 Most Famous Quotes From the Greatest Explorers of All Time Cover

One reason we look up to brands like Nike is that they give us a vision to pursue. A dream to be someone greater. While most of us are content with beating our friends at tennis, some folks really go after those dreams. Without daring explorers, for example, we still wouldn’t have a complete map of the world. That first appeared in the mid-19th century, by the way, making it a rather recent accomplishment.

From Columbus sailing for India and landing in America to Amelia Earhart’s first female solo trans-Atlantic flight to Amundsen’s discovery of the North Pole, few stories are as inspiring as the fantastic adventures of people who’ve lived them. The most popular explorer of all? That would have to be Neil Armstrong. With a live audience of around 650 million people, the first man on the moon takes the crown — and so do his words, echoing forever through space and time.

Here are 15 great lines from history’s most famous explorers:

286. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” — Neil Armstrong

287. “I should not proceed by land to the East, as is customary, but by a Westerly route, in which direction we have hitherto no certain evidence that any one has gone.” — Christopher Columbus

288. “If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties.” — Sir Francis Bacon

289. “I am a lucky man. I have had a dream and it has come true, and that is not a thing that happens often to men.” — Edmund Hillary

290. “A tourist follows a trail; a mountaineer finds one. A true mountaineer takes responsibility for him or herself and goes where no one else is going.” — Reinhold Messner

291. “I was disposed to see some part of the world and its wonders.” — Amerigo Vespucci

292. “Victory awaits him who has everything in order — luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time; this is called bad luck.” — Roald Amundsen

293. “The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life and the procedure. The process is its own reward.” — Amelia Earhart

294. “I have not told half of what I saw.” — Marco Polo

295. “I [had] ambition not only to go farther than any one had been before, but as far as it was possible for man to go.” — James Cook

296. “There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory.” — Sir Francis Drake

297. “I always have a comfortable feeling that nothing is impossible if one applies a certain amount of energy in the right direction.” — Nellie Bly

298. “The air is only the place free from prejudice.” — Bessie Coleman

299. “I have found a dream of beauty at which one might look all one’s life and sigh.” — Isabella Bird

300. “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” — George Mallory


The 25 Most Famous Quotes From the Greatest Athletes of All Time

The 25 Most Famous Quotes From the Greatest Athletes of All Time Cover

Like an explorer climbing a mountain, sports are more than just sports. Yes, they help us stay healthy. Yes, they show us our limits and help us push beyond them. But there is something truly magical about even just seeing MJ make that game-winning shot or witnessing a soccer team get the ball into the opposing team’s goal in one fluent play.

Even though the scoreboards are often hard to argue with, rankings for the greatest athletes of all time are always subjective. How much do you factor in their impact off the court? Does their success in business count as much as their medals? In assembling the following list, GiveMeSports’ top 50 athletes ranking came in handy.

Looking at current search volumes, still active athletes like Tom Brady, Tiger Woods, and Cristiano Ronaldo may outgun him, but if you think about overall recognizability, lifetime impact, and the level of hype he generated as early as the 90s, Michael Jordan is the undisputed #1 in the world of sports. Watch The Last Dance if you have doubts. People spent their entire life savings and flew halfway around the world to see him just once. He isn’t just a superstar — he started stardom.

Here’s his most famous quote, along with 24 other gems from some of the greatest, most famous athletes of all time:

301. “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan

302. “I’m gonna float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see.” — Muhammad Ali

303. “The greatest thing about tomorrow is, I will be better than I am today. And that’s how I look at my life. I will be better as a golfer, I will be better as a person, I will be better as a father, I will be a better husband, I will be better as a friend. That’s the beauty of tomorrow. There is no such thing as a setback. The lessons I learn today I will apply tomorrow, and I will be better.” — Tiger Woods

304. “If you put a limit on anything, you put a limit on how far you can go. I don’t think anything is too high. The more you use your imagination, the faster you go. If you think about doing the unthinkable, you can. The sky is the limit.” — Michael Phelps

305. “The more difficult a victory, the greater the happiness in winning.” — Pelé

306. “I really think a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall.” — Serena Williams

307. “I was never content unless I was trying my skill in some game against my fellow playmates or testing my endurance and wits against some member of the animal kingdom.” — Jim Thorpe

308. “Do not give up. Keep on your quest.” — Junko Tabei

309. “My only secret is that I never quit doing it.” — Tony Hawk

310. “I had just seen what I wanted to be. And if you can see it, you can be it.” — Billie Jean King

311. “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” — Babe Ruth

312. “Following your dreams — not just in gymnastics, but in everything — shouldn’t have anything to do with the color of your skin. It should only be about finding the discipline and the courage to do the hard work.” — Simone Biles

313. “Empty your mind. Be formless. Shapeless. Like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” — Bruce Lee

314. “I always thought that if I ever got good reviews I’d be happy. It’s so empty. It’s never what I wanted, ever. All I wanted was just what everyone else wants — to be loved.” — Rita Hayworth

315. “Your love makes me strong, your hate makes me unstoppable.” — Cristiano Ronaldo

316. “Focus on what you know you can do. Know what you’re capable of on any given day, what you can count on; that’s a philosophy I try to live by.” — Mia Hamm

317. “I’ve always been aware that the image you patiently construct for an entire career can be ruined in a minute.” — Roger Federer

318. “This feeling of ‘when I’m ready,’ deep in your heart you know it, and all the rest of it is just making excuses.” — Laura Dekker

319. “The magic you’re looking for is in the will of trying and not giving up. The love of your dream is in your heart. […] Keep going. Because will always finds a way.” — Tom Brady

320. “When I am in the moment, on the course, I’m not thinking about what this race means. I’m not worried about my knee, or what my legs can handle. I’m not thinking about crashing, or about holding back. I am only skiing.” — Lindsey Vonn

321. “It doesn’t hurt to lose my crown. It hurts to lose.” — Steffi Graf

322. “You have to set yourself goals so you can push yourself harder. Desire is the key to success.” — Usain Bolt

323. “I had so much fun, and it didn’t matter to me if I won or lost. I was still happy. I’d go, ‘Well, next time, I’m gonna try hard. I know I can do it!” — Florence Griffith Joyner

324. “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” — Lance Armstrong

325. “You can’t control what people say about you and what they think about you. You can’t plan for bad luck. You can only work your hardest and do your best and tell the truth. In the end, it’s the effort that matters. The rest is beyond your control.” — Maria Sharapova


20 Famous Quotes Whose Sources Are Actually Anonymous

Top 20 Famous Anonymous Quotes Cover

As we saw early on in this list, many of the most famous quotes are actually misattributed. No, Mark Twain did not say that. Neither did the Buddha, Lincoln, or Maya Angelou. I wish I could tell you that we do have the correct source for every great line, and that it’s only a matter of digging it up. Sadly, that’s not the case.

Some of the very best quotes you know are of spurious origin. They have formed and morphed over decades until the original source was lost — if we ever knew it in the first place. Thankfully, that doesn’t diminish their insight one bit.

Here are 20 quotes you’ve likely heard before in their full, honest, anonymous glory. Can you remember who they’re commonly misattributed to? Make it a guessing game! See the sources section for the answers. Here we go:

326. “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” — Anonymous

327. “Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” — Anonymous

328. “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” — Anonymous

329. “Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” — Anonymous

330. “The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.” — Anonymous

331. “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” — Anonymous

332. “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.” — Anonymous

333. “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.” — Anonymous

334. “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift — that is why we call it the present.” — Anonymous

335. “If you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” — Anonymous

336. “The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” — Anonymous

337. “Joy is not in things; it is in us.” — Anonymous

338. “I think everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in, and all your dreams. The way you drink your tea. How you decorate your home. Or party. Your grocery list. The food you make. How your writing looks. And the way you feel. Life is art.” — Anonymous

339. “If you obey all of the rules, you miss all of the fun.” — Anonymous

340. “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” — Anonymous

341. “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” — Anonymous

342. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” — Anonymous

343. “Everything has beauty, but not everyone can see it.” — Anonymous

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

345. “Everyone 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.” — Anonymous


20 Famous Quotes That Are Misattributed All the Time (With Their Real Sources)

Top 20 Famous Misattributed Quotes Cover

Thankfully, far from all great quotes’ sources have been lost to time. For many of the best yet misattributed phrases, we can discover their true authors, if only we know where to look.

While we can’t blame them for their popularity, here are the 10 people we most commonly attribute quotes to even though they don’t deserve the credit: Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, Maya Angelou, Theodore Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi, Oscar Wilde, Winston Churchill, and Marilyn Monroe.

“Free speech is when someone you don’t like is allowed to say something you don’t like,” Elon Musk once said. Similarly, not everything you like was also said by someone you like. That’s okay! Credit where credit is due.

Here are 20 famous yet constantly misattributed quotes and their real, underrated sources:

346. “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” — Edward J. Stieglitz

347. “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” — Jacques Abbadie

348. “The right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.” — John B. Finch

349. “Whatever you are, be a good one.” — William Makepeace Thackeray

350. “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.” — Squire Bill Widener

351. “Most people die when they’re 25 but aren’t buried until they’re 75.” — G. E. Marchand

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

353. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” — Will Durant

354. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” — Clare Boothe Luce

355. “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” — Blaise Pascal

356. “There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.” — Zora Neale Hurston

357. “It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” — Maurice Switzer, Mrs. Goose, Her Book

358. “Victorious warriers win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” — Zhang Yu

359. “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” — Allen Saunders

360. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Carl W. Buehner

361. “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” — Louis-Charles Fougeret de Monbron

362. “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.” — John Calvin

363. “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” — Whole Earth Catalog

364. “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” — Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

365. “The ends justify the means.” — Ovid


Bonus: The 30 Most Famous Proverbs & Sayings We Use on a Daily Basis

Top 30 Famous Proverbs & Famous Sayings We Use Every Day Cover

Remember the very first section of this list? The 10 most famous quotes of all time? Well, if we had picked those based on how often they are used by people in everyday life, we’d most likely have landed on a list made entirely of proverbs and sayings. Since we did include author famousness for the “quotable” factor there, however, here’s a bonus section with 30 of the most famous proverbs and sayings.

I tried to somewhat sort these based on popularity, but really, it’s impossible to track exactly where which of these lines is how popular, especially once you factor in different geographies and translations. That said, I’m confident you’ll recognize most of these, as many of them are well-known all around the world.

Here are 30 of the most famous sayings and proverbs people use on a daily basis wherever you go:

366. “Actions speak louder than words.” — John Pym

367. “Ignorance is bliss.” — Thomas Gray

368. “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” — T. A. Borman

369. “Practice makes perfect.” — John Adams

370. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” — Arthur Brisbane

371. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” — German Proverb

372. “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” — Latin Proverb

373. “If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.” — Unknown

374. “History is written by the winners.” — Unknown

375. “Clothes make the man.” — Ancient Proverb

376. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” — Medieval French Proverb

377. “Honesty is the best policy.” — Sir Edwin Sandys

378. “Still waters run deep.” — Quintus Curtius Rufus

379. “That’s just the tip of the iceberg.” — Unknown

380. “Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.” — Nicholas Udall

381. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” — Saint Ambrose of Milan

382. “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.” — Geoffrey Chaucer

383. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” — Miss Stickland

384. “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” — George Eliot

385. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” — Welsh Proverb

386. “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” — Joseph Addison

387. “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” — James Howell

388. “You cannot make an omelette without breaking some eggs.” — François de Charette

389. “Nothing is certain except death and taxes.” — Christopher Bullock

390. “Blood is thicker than water.” — William Jenkyn

391. “Better late than never.” — Livy

392. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” — Margaret Wolfe Hungerford

393. “Out of sight, out of mind.” — Homer

394. “The early bird catches the worm.” — William Camden

395. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” — George Herbert


The 100 Most Famous Quotes Ever for Sharing on Social Media

The 100 Most Famous Quotes of All Time for Sharing on Social Media Cover

If you want to post any quote on this list to social media, you can do so with our “highlight to share” feature. For 100 of the top quotes, however, I also made custom images for you to easily tap and share. The first 34 are optimized for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The second batch of 34 quotes follows Instagram’s classic square format. The last 32 quotes are in Pinterest’s vertical layout.

While I created images for the top 10 quotes overall in each of the 3 formats, I then picked the top 3 (sometimes top 2) lines from various categories. This way, you can share the most famous lines on all platforms but will also not run out of variety!

In terms of background images, to honor the humans behind these ideas, I tried to pick real photos of (or, in many cases, paintings and statues) the people in question. Where no good picture was available, I went with an image relevant to the quote in question. 

Enjoy scrolling, saving, making them your phone wallpaper, and sharing as many as you like! Happy posting!

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What Really Makes a Quote “Famous?” (Methodology)

Quotes have been popular since well before the internet. As early as 600 BC, ancient Greek storyteller Aesop wrote dozens of fables, many of which came with pithy lessons that survive to this day. In 1500, the Dutch philosopher Erasmus compiled over 4,000 Latin and Greek sayings in his Adagia, a collection of proverbs and sayings.

Given how long we’ve been documenting quotes, I thought a quick Google search would answer my question. As it turns out, however, documenting quotes and tracking their popularity are two different things — and most people do neither very well.

After hours of combing through search results, I was both disappointed and shocked: Most of the other “famous quotes” lists I found seemed to be based on no research at all. They were just random collections of (often misattributed) quotes. But guess what? If I’ve never even heard of the first 8 quotes in your top 10, clearly, those lines are not actually all that famous.

Of course, “famous” is a subjective term. What’s popular varies wildly from person to person, country to country, and even day to day. That said, there are ways we can measure popularity objectively, and even if we can’t execute those measurements perfectly, data and common sense will go a long way in making good approximations. That’s what I tried to do in this study.

Analysis

Generally, there are two reasons why a quote might be popular:

  1. It’s a line many people know
  2. It was said by a person many people know

Ideally, both are true. Often, however, we’ll know the words but not the originator or vice versa. Therefore, I used the following two questions to pick the quotes for this list:

  1. If I shared this quote with anyone I know or even a random person on the street, would they be likely to know it or at least recognize it?
  2. If they wouldn’t recognize the quote, would the original source likely be among their top guesses?

For example, you probably know the phrase “Blood is thicker than water.” But who said it? That, you likely don’t know. It was a man named William Jenkyn in 1652. A quote like that qualifies as per the first question.

Similarly, you might not have heard the exact phrase, “Possessions make you rich? I don’t have that type of richness. My richness is life, forever.” But if I gave you three choices, say, Elvis Presley, Bob Marley, and Céline Dion, you can probably guess that this line came from Bob Marley. This quote qualifies as per the second question.

I also asked myself further questions to decide which quotes to pick:

  • Is this a quote that’s been translated into many languages? My native tongue is German, but I also know a bit of Latin, French and Spanish. So, while far from perfect and with a little help from Google Translate, I could at least tell for some quotes whether they’d made it beyond the English language. I can’t speak for Asian or African languages, of course, but I imagine even in China, a lot of people will know a few lines from Shakespeare, for example.
  • Have millions of people heard this quote? For example, some 650 million people watched or listened to Neil Armstrong landing on the moon in 1969. Clearly, his line when setting foot on the moon — “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” — is something many people are likely to remember.
  • Is this a quote people search for on a regular basis? Where possible and relevant, I used Google search volume, Google Trends, and votes from Goodreads‘ 125 million members to determine whether a quote is more popular than others, or if it’s actually that person’s most famous line. Yoda’s most popular quote (“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”), for example, gets more search requests than “Yoda quotes” altogether. It seems more people remember this quote than who it came from in the first place. That makes it a strong contender.

Verification

Nowadays, there are more misattributed quotes flying around the internet than mosquitoes in the summer. I’m not a full-time academic, but I did get both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree. In both, we learned how to properly vet, source, and attribute information. Plus, as a writer, it just irks me when credit lands in the wrong lap.

Therefore, you’ll find a full, dedicated “Sources” category with links to where exactly each quote is from right below this section. Where possible, I tried to link to the original source. For old books that are freely available online, I’ve linked to the relevant section in the text. For newer books, I’ve linked to their Goodreads page. Feel free to borrow them from your local library and double-check! Where direct sources weren’t available, I’ve linked to whoever did the hard work of vetting the line in question.

The following resources have been extremely helpful in verifying all these quotes:

  • Quote Investigator. Garson O’Toole is the #1 quote sleuth on the web. Thank you, Sir! Read his articles where linked for best-in-class tracking of where a line originally came from.
  • Wikiquote. The collective magic of Wikipedia contributors also works when applied to quotes. Amazing. Wherever I’ve linked Wikiquote, you can search on the Wikiquote page to find the exact source of the quote in question.
  • Project Gutenberg. If it’s an important work of literature, you’ll likely find it here. Over 70,000 full, free books, mostly older, historically important works that are in the public domain. And so easy to search, too. Fantastic!
  • The Internet Archive. From full-text books to other helpful, rare resources, this non-profit website truly is a treasure gem for any researcher.
  • Sue Brewton. A self-appointed “quotologist,” I landed on Sue’s website more than once in my research. Thank you!
  • The 100 Most Significant Figures in History. This statistical ranking, created by Time Magazine, helped a lot in determining who deserved to be on this list, and who might just be a passing trend on social media. When thinking of famous people, we tend to over-index on whoever’s popular right now. I hate to say it, but compared with Napoleon and Joan of Arc, Johnny Depp and Taylor Swift will likely be nothing more than a blip on history’s radar. Whoever has 500, 1,000, even 2,000 years of significance under their belt already is likely to persist just as long into the future.

Since a good number of the quotes on this list ended up being from German-speaking sources (or at least also prevalent in their German translation), I double-checked German sources wherever possible. “Stitched twice holds better,” we say in German 😉

Finally, and perhaps above all, I used my brain and common sense. I’ve been reading books for over 25 years, and while I’ve never won “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” I’m a pretty decent “quiz whiz.” I have a broad stock of common knowledge, not least thanks to summarizing hundreds of books here on Four Minute Books.

If a quote sounds straight out of a 2000s high school movie but is ascribed to someone born in the 18th century, chances are, something’s not right. It’s often worth trusting our gut if we’re skeptical, and even just with a laptop and an internet connection, it’s surprising how much you can find out if you keep digging.

Oh, and each quote is only listed once, of course. A rare handful of authors makes more than one appearance (this Shakespeare guy was just too good), but all quotes are unique.

So much for the methodology. I hope you find it reasonable. If you have questions, hit up @fourminutebooks on Twitter at any time!


Sources

As promised, every single quote on this list has been vetted and verified. Here are a few primers on the following sources.

For the song lyrics category, thankfully, texts are easy to verify: Just fire up Youtube, Spotify, or your music streaming service of choice, and have a listen! That said, to give you the complete package of full lyrics, official music videos, and more background information on each track, I went with Genius as the source of truth for the earworm section.

Movie quotes are also easy. There are many sites out there offering movie scripts, but the one I keep coming back to is Forever Dreaming. Rather than just the original script, which often slightly differs from the final dialogue used in the actual film, this site offers transcripts of movies and TV shows as they are. Feel free to verify all the quotes with a movie marathon! Most of them, you can also find as short clips on Youtube, but since those often get taken down for copyright issues (and usually re-uploaded by someone else shortly thereafter), I figured it best not to point you to any specific sources there. Just search the quote, and I’m sure you’ll find it.

For books, where works are in the public domain and free to view online, I linked directly to the source via Wikipedia, Archive.org, Project Gutenberg, or wherever the full text was available. If the book’s copyright hasn’t expired, I verified the quote personally in the text and linked to Goodreads. Feel free to double-check!

For fictional characters, once again, where the work is in the public domain, I’ve linked to the source. If not, then to a secondary one. Transcripts for movies, Goodreads for books, etc.

Anonymous quotes might not have exact sources, but they do have people investigating them. Often, there’s at least some proof that who we think said the line actually didn’t. That’s what I’ve gathered for that section.

Alright, so much for context. Here are the exact sources, notes, and any additional, relevant explanations for all 365 famous quotes! Oh, and for the 30 bonus sayings, of course. Let’s go!

  1. This quote, also known as “the Golden Rule” likely predates Christianity. It could go back all the way to ancient Egypt in 2000 BC, but Jesus arguably came up with the most memorable phrasing. It’s a universal line known all over the world in many languages, and that’s why it’s our overall #1.
  2. Julius Caesar’s phrase is surprisingly solid in its sourcing, given its age. Given people usually use it in Latin, it’s also easy to recognize anywhere.
  3. If a phrase has its own Wikipedia entry, that’s a strong sign of its significance. Another strong contender by our boy Socrates? “The unexamined life is not worth living.
  4. Thankfully, Descartes wrote this one down in a book.
  5. From Hamlet, Act III, Scene I, this is easily Shakespeare’s most recognizable and popular line.
  6. Another one that, simple and powerful as all of the most famous quotes are, was thankfully written down and survived.
  7. From an early comic book about who would become the most popular superhero of all time, Spider-Man, right into TV show and movie adaptations, and from there, straight into our hearts and mouths.
  8. Though he might not be the most famous athlete of all time, he sure is up there, but his quote takes the sports crown — for it is cited all over the place by business leaders, entrepreneurs, and even our friends encouraging us to be bold.
  9. From the Aeneid, one of the most epic, seminal, and first poems ever.
  10. A line so proverbial, it is hard to believe we can trace it to an individual. But we can, because like many a writer, Sir Francis Bacon was smart and wrote his words down.
  11. Often attributed to Oscar Wilde, but he only had a similar idea. Related: Shakespeare’s “To thine own self be true.” That one’s real.
  12. No matter how perfectly the words fit into her mouth, unfortunately, this one’s not from Marilyn Monroe.
  13. Even this one might be misattributed, since it depends on psychiatrist Fritz Perls’ memory, but while attribution is shaky, it  at the very least exists.
  14. Via The Literary World, a magazine. And no, definitely not a quote by musician Frank Zappa.
  15. Via Quote Investigator. The wording is upside down. Actually, Cicero wrote the following: “Since Tyrannio has arranged my books, the house seems to have acquired a soul.” Close enough, I guess.
  16. Via Quote Investigator.
  17. The last line may have been added somewhere along the way, but the writers of the original song still deserve the credit.
  18. I went through several of the most popular Dr. Seuss books, alas, no luck. If even the Wikiquote editors can’t find it, chances are, it did not come from everyone’s favorite children’s book author.
  19. Via Quote Investigator. There’s no link to Mae West whatsoever.
  20. Given it is a blended quote, one half of which actually comes from the person we want to believe the whole thing is from, I consider this one a win!
  21. Believe it or not, a handwritten version of the queen’s speech actually exists.
  22. Via Goodreads.
  23. From a preserved letter.
  24. In her biography.
  25. In a letter to her mentor (detail view).
  26. Via Quote Investigator.
  27. Signed on a painting.
  28. From an interview.
  29. In her 2019 Christmas broadcast.
  30. From a biography.
  31. This phrase is not only distinctly Christian, it is also directly related to an almost equally famous phrase, “an eye for an eye.” Found in Matthew 5:38–39.
  32. I found a source for this but am still unsure. I’m not an Islam expert by any means. If you know more, please let me know.
  33. Though not real as in “literal,” this one reads like a modern translation of its original. “Much though he recites the sacred texts, but acts not accordingly, that heedless man is like a cowherd who only counts the cows of others — he does not partake of the blessings of the holy life.” Close enough!
  34. Most translations offer a different wording, but the gist stays the same: “You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions.”
  35. Via Wikiquote and in the original German. Mr. Luther loved pennies so much, he coined multiple famous sayings about them. Another one you know? “He who does not honor the penny is not worthy of the dollar.” Same source.
  36. The most popular Bible verse.
  37. Via Wikiquote.
  38. Though probably not literal, there are several close translations of the line in question.
  39. Via Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao Te Ching.
  40. From her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.
  41. Also known as “festina lente,” the Latin translation of the original Greek. A common saying back then but a special favorite of Augustus, making him largely responsible for the fact that we still now and use this adage today.
  42. Via Plutarch’s Parallel Lives, an ancient series of biographies. Here in original Greek. Depending on the translation, the wording might be different. Common: “He thought nothing invincible for the courageous, and nothing secure for the cowardly.”
  43. Via Quote Investigator.
  44. Via the Lionel Giles translation, often shared as “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
  45. Via Wikiquote. Seems to be one of few lines of his with a decent paper trail. 
  46. Via Wikipedia, “inveniam viam aut faciam.”
  47. Via the University of Chicago. You might know this as “Tonight we dine in hell!” from 300. As it turns out, the Spartans actually said many of their crazy phrases from the movie. They are known as laconic phrases.
  48. Sometimes attributed to King Leonidas, this, too, is a movie phrase that’s real, though actually from one of his soldiers.
  49. From a collection of fragments of Greek historic texts via Georgetown University.
  50. Via Wikiquote. Fun fact: Charlemagne is called “Karl der Große,” “Carl the Great,” in German.
  51. Via Wikipedia. He might not have been the first to say it, but it is highly likely he did say it and popularize it. The variant, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom,” however, is unlikely to come from him.
  52. Via Francis Macdonald Cornford’s 1941 translation of The Republic.
  53. Via Meditations, but most likely a lost, liberal, or expanded translation. Wikiquote lists it near Book VII, X, others place it in Book IV, III. For more Marcus Aurelius quotes, see here.
  54. Via Wikiquote.
  55. From Moral Letters #13.
  56. From the Enchiridion.
  57. Via Wikiquote.
  58. Via Wikiquote. Sometimes also shared as “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Related: Since Heraclitus talked a lot about change, “The only constant in life is change” and its variants are often (mistakenly) attributed to him.
  59. Via Wikiquote. Also famous: His interaction with Alexander the Great, where he told him to “stand a little out of my sun.”
  60. Via Wikiquote.
  61. From Twilight of the Idols. In German: “Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker.”
  62. Via Wikipedia. “Dare to know” is a closer translation but less sensible. Common, pithy German variant: “Habe Mut, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen” — “Have the courage to use your own reason.”
  63. Via The Social Contract.
  64. Via Wikipedia, from his communist manifesto co-authored with Friedrich Engels.
  65. Via Wikiquote.
  66. From The Prince.
  67. Via Wikiquote.
  68. From Pensées, in this translation worded as, “All the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.”
  69. Via Wikiquote.
  70. Via Wikiquote.
  71. Via Oxford Reference.
  72. Via The Marginalian.
  73. From Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.
  74. Via Wikiquote.
  75. Via Quote Investigator.
  76. Via Wikipedia.
  77. Via Wikiquote. A close runner-up, almost equally famous but of more spurious origin: “Eureka!
  78. Via Wikiquote.
  79. Via Quote Investigator.
  80. Via Wikiquote.
  81. In a letter to his sister.
  82. Via Wikiquote.
  83. From his seminal book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium.
  84. From his 1974 Caltech commencement address.
  85. From Trattato della pittura (A Treatise on Painting).
  86. Via Wikiquote. You might know this as “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” but that line goes back to Clare Booth Luce.
  87. Via Quote Investigator.
  88. Via Quote Investigator. As you can see, Picasso’s actual line is related to “Good artists copy, great artists steal,” but it is neither the exact wording, nor is he the real source.
  89. Via Wikiquote.
  90. Via Wikiquote.
  91. Via Wikiquote.
  92. Via Wikiquote.
  93. Via Wikiquote.
  94. Via Quote Investigator.
  95. From Hamlet, Act I, Scene III.
  96. From his Epistulae ex Ponto (Letters from the Black Sea), Book IV.
  97. Via Quote Investigator.
  98. From The Soul of Man Under Socialism.
  99. From Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now.
  100. From a letter to George W. Eveleth.
  101. From Jane Eyre, Volume 2, Chapter 8.
  102. From To the States.
  103. From a speech to the Royal College of Surgeons in 1923.
  104. From A Miscellany Revised.
  105. From Sonnet 18.
  106. From the Divine Comedy.
  107. From The Road Not Taken.
  108. From Still I Rise.
  109. From 100 Love Sonnets, XVII.
  110. From Song of Myself.
  111. From Ozymandias.
  112. From “Hope” Is the Thing With Feathers.
  113. From Invictus.
  114. From Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.
  115. From Auguries of Innocence.
  116. From Roll the Dice.
  117. From The Hill We Climb.
  118. From the Think Different Campaign, Here’s to the Crazy Ones.
  119. From a letter to his father, here in original German.
  120. Via the official Bach Archive, originally from a German biography by Johann Nikolaus Forkel.
  121. Via Wikiquote, originally from a book of Wagner’s collected writings (in German).
  122. Handwritten note in a Bible owned by “the King.”
  123. Via Wikiquote.
  124. As quoted in The Charlotte Observer, October 5, 1997, Page 90.
  125. From an interview in the New York Daily News, May 8, 1967.
  126. From a recorded interview.
  127. From Salute to Satchmo.
  128. Via Wikipedia, originally from Joseph Haydn: Ein Lebensbild, an early German biography of the man.
  129. Lyrics via Genius, sales data via Wikipedia.
  130. Lyrics via Genius, sales data via Wikipedia.
  131. Lyrics via Genius, #1 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
  132. Lyrics via Genius.
  133. Lyrics via Genius.
  134. Lyrics via Genius.
  135. Lyrics via Genius.
  136. Lyrics via Genius.
  137. Lyrics via Genius.
  138. Lyrics via Genius.
  139. Lyrics via Genius.
  140. Lyrics via Genius.
  141. Via Wikiquote.
  142. Though a detailed source was impossible to find, the quote was posted on Dean’s official Instagram managed by his estate, and is also listed on his official website. I trust the parties operating those have verified it as authentic.
  143. Via his official website.
  144. From the documentary Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind.
  145. From a recorded speech.
  146. From her autobiography, Me: Stories of My Life.
  147. From an NBA interview.
  148. On his Instagram.
  149. From an interview.
  150. On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
  151. Via Forever Dreaming.
  152. Via Forever Dreaming. This is often used in present tense when quoted, but actually, he only said it in past tense in the movie.
  153. Via Forever Dreaming.
  154. Via Forever Dreaming.
  155. Via Forever Dreaming. Fun fact, this line was altered ever so slightly from “You cannot pass,” probably for extra dramatic effect. And boy, did it work!
  156. Via Forever Dreaming.
  157. Via Forever Dreaming.
  158. Via Forever Dreaming.
  159. Via Forever Dreaming.
  160. Via Forever Dreaming. Like several other lines in this list, this, too, became a meme.
  161. Via IMSDb.
  162. Via Forever Dreaming. Also a strong contender from this film: “You had me at ‘hello.'”
  163. Via Script-O-Rama.
  164. Via Forever Dreaming.
  165. Via Forever Dreaming. Yes, surprisingly, it’s not “Mirror, mirror, on the wall,” although this is how most people remember, and how countless songs, books, films, and TV shows have adapted it.
  166. Via IMSDB. Also slightly altered by Brad Pitt in the movie.
  167. Via Forever Dreaming.
  168. Via Forever Dreaming. Being from 1931, this is the oldest movie quote on our list. The film was also one of the first with sound altogether, since non-silent movies only became a thing after 1927.
  169. Via Forever Dreaming. This one was another tough call, but since it is shorter, easier to remember, and also became a meme, I picked this over Maximus’ epic speech where he declares vengeance on the usurper emperor Commodus: “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.” Chills!
  170. Via Forever Dreaming.
  171. Via Wikiquote. Okay, so this man must have been a walking inspo-calendar. Seriously. I could have added another section on proverbs consisting only of the pithy lines from his stories. From “Don’t cry over spilled milk” to “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch” to “Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Aesop was a true quote powerhouse.
  172. From A Moveable Feast.
  173. From his notebooks.
  174. From his notebooks.
  175. From On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.
  176. From Agatha Christie: An Autobiography.
  177. From his Pamphlets.
  178. From Tales from the Secret Annex, a collection of Anne Frank’s lesser known writing.
  179. From William Shakespeare, an essay by Hugo about the writers he most admired.
  180. From Mr. Galliano’s Circus.
  181. From A Room of One’s Own.
  182. From The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.
  183. Via Quote Investigator.
  184. From Northanger Abbey, Chapter 14.
  185. From an interview in LIFE Magazine, May 24, 1963.
  186. Via Goodreads, the quote has some preceding some preceding history with Charles Bayard Miliken but is rather unique in this form.
  187. Via Archive.org.
  188. Via Project Gutenberg.
  189. Via Goodreads. Brown might have been inspired by this Seneca quote from On the Shortness of Life.
  190. Via Archive.org.
  191. Via Project Gutenberg.
  192. Via Goodreads.
  193. Via Archive.org. For more quotes from The Catcher in the Rye, see here.
  194. Via Archive.org.
  195. Via Project Gutenberg.
  196. Via Project Gutenberg.
  197. Via Project Gutenberg Australia.
  198. Via Goodreads.
  199. Via Goodreads.
  200. Via Project Gutenberg. This is not the exact wording, as I could not find that translation, but it is very similar: “The truth may run fine but will not break, and always rises above falsehood as oil above water.”
  201. Via Archive.org.
  202. Via Project Gutenberg.
  203. Via Project Gutenberg.
  204. Via Archive.org.
  205. Via Project Gutenberg.
  206. Via Goodreads. It may not be the bestselling nonfiction book of all time, but in terms of meaning, empathy, and impact, Viktor Frankl’s autobiography sure takes the crown — and so does his quote.
  207. Via Goodreads.
  208. Via Goodreads.
  209. Via Goodreads.
  210. Via Goodreads.
  211. Via Goodreads.
  212. Via Goodreads.
  213. Via Goodreads.
  214. Via Goodreads.
  215. Via Goodreads.
  216. From The Sign of the Four.
  217. Via Wikipedia, sometimes also as, “A martini. Shaken, not stirred.” A close second is how Bond introduces himself, of course: “Bond. James Bond.”
  218. From Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back. Fun fact: Many of us remember and cite this as, “Luke, I am your father,” but Vader actually says, “No, I am your father” in response to Luke’s accusation that he killed his dad.
  219. From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, this line was included almost verbatim in the movie.
  220. From Batman Begins. By the way, Christopher Nolan’s entire trilogy is basically one big quote fest. Can recommend!
  221. From The Fellowship of the Ring, included verbatim in the movie.
  222. From the book, only slightly altered in the 1951 Disney movie.
  223. From the eponymous movie.
  224. From Mockingjay, the third book of the trilogy, included verbatim in the movie.
  225. Via Wikipedia, Bugs says it in basically every Looney Tunes episode.
  226. From a bunch of notes for a lecture about law.
  227. From his first Inaugural Address.
  228. From his Inaugural Address.
  229. Documented exchange in the House of Commons, via the International Churchill Society.
  230. From the Declaration of Independence, via the National Archives.
  231. From his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. Runner-up: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” from a speech at Madison Park High School in 1990.
  232. From a speech Thatcher gave to the National Union of Townswomen’s Guilds in 1965.
  233. Via Wikiquote.
  234. From a speech to his supporters during his election campaign.
  235. Via Quote Investigator.
  236. Transcript via Wikipedia.
  237. Transcript via the International Churchill Society.
  238. Transcript via American Rhetoric.
  239. Transcript via Art of Manliness.
  240. Via TED.
  241. Transcript via the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
  242. Via TED.
  243. Video and transcript via Stanford News.
  244. Transcript via the National Archives.
  245. Video and transcript via The Harvard Gazette.
  246. Video and transcript via NPR.
  247. Transcript via Carnegie Mellon, also on video, and a great book.
  248. Via TED.
  249. Transcript via Academy at the Lakes.
  250. Both versions of the only orally reported speech via Learning for Justice.
  251. From his Stanford commencement address.
  252. From The Road Ahead.
  253. From How They Succeeded: Life Stories of Successful Men Told by Themselves.
  254. From his autobiography.
  255. Via Quote Investigator.
  256. As part of his testimony in front of the House of Representatives.
  257. From his autobiography, Sam Walton: Made in America.
  258. From his autobiography, Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald’s.
  259. From Winning, his autobiography.
  260. As quoted in Of Permanent Value: The Story of Warren Buffett and a Vanity Fair feature in 1995.
  261. Speaking at the APEC CEO Summit in 2015.
  262. During the 2011 Startup School Q&A.
  263. On 60 Minutes.
  264. During a Fireside Chat at the AWS re:Invent conference in 2012.
  265. Via the official Virgin website.
  266. From her memoir The Martha Rules.
  267. From Thrive.
  268. From her autobiography, My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future.
  269. During a panel discussion.
  270. From her 1997 Wellesley College commencement address.
  271. Via Wikipedia.
  272. Via Wikipedia.
  273. Via their official homepage.
  274. Via Slogan & Tagline.
  275. Via Branding Strategy Insider.
  276. Via Wikipedia.
  277. Via their official website.
  278. Via their homepage.
  279. From their website.
  280. Via L’Oréal Paris USA.
  281. Via Wikipedia.
  282. Via Wikipedia.
  283. Via The Drum.
  284. Via Audi Canada.
  285. As shared by founder & CEO Brian Chesky on Medium.
  286. Via the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
  287. A note in his journal.
  288. From his book The Advancement of Learning.
  289. Via his obituary in the New York Times.
  290. In an interview with The Independent.
  291. From The Letters of Amerigo Vespucci.
  292. From his book The South Pole.
  293. As listed on her official website.
  294. Via Wikiquote.
  295. From his book A Voyage Towards the South Pole and Round the World, Volume 1.
  296. Via Wikiquote.
  297. From her chronicle Around the World in Seventy-Two Days.
  298. In a statement to the press.
  299. From her book A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains.
  300. Via Quote Investigator.
  301. Voiceover for a Nike ad.
  302. Repeatedly in interviews.
  303. To a small audience in Florida who had won a giveaway for a day of golfing with Tiger Woods.
  304. In his autobiography, No Limits: The Will to Succeed.
  305. In his autobiography, Pele: My Life And The Beautiful Game.
  306. At a press conference after winning her 4th US Open crown and 15th Grand Slam title.
  307. Via Historical Snapshots, a site I’m at second glance not sure provides accurate data. Thorpe quotes are in general hard to find and even harder to verify. Alternatively, from his official website: “I have always liked sport and only played or run races for the fun of the thing.”
  308. In an interview.
  309. On TV.
  310. From All In: An Autobiography.
  311. Via Quote Investigator.
  312. From Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, a Life in Balance.
  313. On the Pierre Berton Show in 1971.
  314. Via IMDb.
  315. On his Instagram.
  316. In her autobiography, Go For the Goal: A Champion’s Guide To Winning In Soccer And Life.
  317. In an interview with a French sports magazine.
  318. In a recorded interview.
  319. On his Instagram.
  320. In her autobiography, Rise: My Story.
  321. In a New York Times interview after losing at Wimbledon in the first round.
  322. From his autobiography, Faster than Lightning: My Autobiography.
  323. In a recorded 1992 interview.
  324. In his autobiography, It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life.
  325. In her autobiography, Unstoppable: My Life So Far.
  326. This one is often misattributed to Mark Twain, but he likely never said it.
  327. Via Quote Investigator, most commonly misattributed to Thomas Edison.
  328. Via Quote Investigator, often falsely ascribed to Abraham Lincoln.
  329. Via Quote Investigator. This one usually goes to Churchill — but it didn’t come from him.
  330. Via Quote Investigator. This version is often misattributed to Theodore Roosevelt.
  331. Via Quote Investigator. Another Mark Twain-ism that did not come from Mark Twain.
  332. Wikiquote has collected all the evidence on this one, commonly attributed to Einstein, but he is unlikely to be the author.
  333. Via Wikiquote’s researchers, this line doesn’t seem to appear in any of the actual translations of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. It might be a liberal translation or reinterpretation of a similar idea, like “when able to attack, we must seem unable,” etc, but is not found verbatim.
  334. Usually attributed to Bil Keane, a famous cartoonist, for using it in one of his drawings, this line has a much longer and complicated history.
  335. Via Quote Investigator, usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin.
  336. As Wikiquote explains, this line has been ascribed to every famous composer ever, including Debussy and Mozart, but even in one book where it is “sourced,” the quote is actually just a comment by the editor. This German source also couldn’t establish any link to Mozart.
  337. This one is commonly misattributed to Richard Wagner, but I can’t find any proof on the internet whatsoever. There are also some flimsy German sources for Thérèse von Lisieu, but those are spurious as well.
  338. This one floats around the entire internet, most often attributed to Helena Bonham Carter, but there’s no reference anywhere. It might be from an old print magazine, but who knows.
  339. This one has Katharine Hepburn’s name attached to it all the time, but I verified that it is not in her book, nor is there a different source anywhere.
  340. This one is widely attributed to Michelangelo, but likely the result of an error or “liberal reinterpretation.” Wikiquote has some data. The quote this might be based upon could go back to a letter Michelangelo wrote, in which he said the following: “The sculptor arrives at his end by taking away what is superfluous.” Here’s the English translation of that letter.
  341. This is attributed to not one but two Martin Luthers, even though neither ever said it.
  342. This one might be an African proverb.
  343. Often attribute to Confucius, but there’s no source. It might be a Chinese proverb.
  344. Via Quote Investigator, yet another line often misattributed to Einstein but actually found in a Narcotics Anonymous brochure. It doesn’t get more anonymous than that!
  345. Via Quote Investigator — and another Einstein misattribution.
  346. Via Quote Investigator.
  347. Via Quote Investigator.
  348. Via Quote Investigator.
  349. Via Quote Investigator.
  350. Via Sue Brewton.
  351. Via Quote Investigator.
  352. Via Quote Investigator.
  353. Commonly attributed to Aristotle, this one fell victim to a common mishap: quoting the quoter. The line is actually a comment from Will Durant on Aristotle’s words, shared in The Story of Philosophy. But since it sits right between actual Aristotle quotes, everything gets lumped together. Classic!
  354. Via Quote Investigator.
  355. Via Quote Investigator, often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, and a whole host of other false sources.
  356. Via Quote Investigator, this one especially pains me, since it is so popular. More than 30,000 misinformed likes on Goodreads for Maya Angelou. Not that she doesn’t deserve it — but so does Zora Neale Hurston.
  357. Via Quote Investigator. Here’s the full-text source. Often attributed to Lincoln and contemporaries.
  358. Usually attributed to Sun Tzu, this is actually a line from one of the commentators on his work, found in this edition of The Art of War: Complete Texts and Commentaries. Zhang Yu came up with many other clever lines, too, that later landed in Sun Tzu’s lap — but he was only born 1,500 years later.
  359. Via Quote Investigator. John Lennon, who often mistakenly gets the credit, did use a modified version of this line (“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”) in one of his songs — but he did not invent it.
  360. Via Quote Investigator, this might be the biggest misattribution tragedy of them all. Unfortunately, it, too, goes to Maya Angelou. At over 86,000 likes, it is one of the most popular quotes on Goodreads, but it is actually an evolved version of Buehner’s original “They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
  361. Here’s the first-hand source in French, and here’s an explainer why this one could not have come from St. Augustine of Hippo.
  362. From Acts of the Council of Trent with the Antidote, here’s an explanation why this line, including a slight word change, did not come from Martin Luther.
  363. Since he quoted the line at the end of his famous commencement address, people tend to think Steve Jobs invented it. Actually, even in his talk, he states it loud and clear: It came from the Whole Earth Catalog.
  364. The title of her book, which she very much invented. No, Marilyn Monroe did not say it.
  365. As Machiavellian as it sounds, this one actually goes back to Ovid.
  366. Via Grammar Monster.
  367. From the poem Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.
  368. A similar idea goes back to Ovid, but the modern source is likely Borman, the president and editor in chief of the Kansas Farmer, where the article with the line is found.
  369. Via Omniglot.
  370. Via Wikipedia.
  371. Via Grammarist, also anaylzed in German.
  372. Collected in Erasmus’ Adagia, the Latin version is the earliest recorded source.
  373. Between Napoleon, Charles-Guillaume Étienne, and dictator Zorg in the The Fifth Element, I don’t think we should trust any of the three.
  374. As investigated by Slate.
  375. Thanks to Alexander Atkins for his investigation on this one.
  376. Via Wikipedia.
  377. Via Grammarist.
  378. Via Wikipedia.
  379. Via Wiktionary.
  380. Via Wikipedia, this one is, perhaps unsurprisingly, connected to “Don’t make a fly into an elephant,” also recorded by Erasmus in his Adagia (“Elephantum ex musca facis”).
  381. Via Culture Trip.
  382. Via Poem Analysis.
  383. Via The Phrase Finder, this one goes back to Sextus Propertius.
  384. Via The Word Counter.
  385. As explained in this paper, which analyses whether the saying is true.
  386. In The Spectator, a daily magazine.
  387. Via Grammarphobia.
  388. From Walker’s Hibernian Magazine, Or, Compendium of Entertaining Knowledge.
  389. Via Quote Investigator.
  390. Via Wikipedia.
  391. As explained on No Sweat Shakespeare, this is from the Yeoman’s Tale in The Canterbury Tales.
  392. Via The Word Counter.
  393. Via The Word Counter.
  394. Via Quote Investigator.
  395. Via The Phrase Finder.

Conclusion

Phew. That concludes my list of the 365 most famous quotes of all time. And 20,000 words is all it took! 😂 I hope you like my picks. If there’s an important quote I missed or that you’d like to share, you can tweet at Four Minute Books and let me know.

May you stay inspired year round, and if you found this research valuable, I hope you’ll share this list with a friend. Till next time!


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:


The 21 Best & Most Underrated Dumbledore Quotes

The 21 Best Dumbledore Quotes Cover

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. I’ll never forget that name. I was 16 years old when I read him revealing it in The Order of the Phoenix. That was literally half a lifetime ago for me — and I’ve been waiting to be asked for Dumbledore’s full name on a quiz show ever since. In the meantime, today’s list of the very best Dumbledore quotes will have to do.

Dumbledore is neither the most popular wizard in fiction, nor the best-looking. But he is definitely a contender for “most powerful,” and when it comes to being the wisest, he really only has one challenger: Gandalf the Grey from Lord of the Rings. Today, let’s see just how wise Dumbledore is!

Welcome! My name is Nik, and today, I’d like to put more than 20 years of fierce Harry Potter fandom to good use. In this organized list, we’ll cover the 10 most popular pieces of Dumbledore’s wisdom based on reader votes. I’ll also share what I think are the 10 most underrated Dumbledore quotes you’ve probably never heard before. I’ll stick to original quotes from the books.

For good measure, I’ll end with a very special quote and add two bonus sections with movie quotes. Oh, and there’s one line everyone thinks came from Dumbledore but didn’t. I’ve also included a section with all sources at the end. Finally, I’ve made some custom images for you, which you can use to share your favorite Dumbledore lines on social media or with friends.

 

Navigating this list is easy: Just use the table of contents below to jump to whichever section interests you the most. If you feel like sharing a quote, simply highlight it on the page, and various sharing options will appear. Of course, you can also just skip to the images section at the end of this post, pick your favorite, and share that.

Now, it wasn’t a wizard who said that motivation doesn’t last and that, therefore, like bathing, we should do it daily — though Zig Ziglar sure has a wizard-sounding name. However, I’m sure Dumbledore would agree that inspiration is no small thing, so let’s get to it!


The 10 Most Popular Albus Dumbledore Quotes

If you’re wondering which of Dumbledore’s countless pieces of advice are the most popular with readers and fans, I did the homework for you. Below, you’ll find the top 10 quotes from Dumbledore, based on real reader votes from Goodreads‘ over 100 million members. Perhaps unsurprisingly, several of them rank among Goodreads’ most popular quotes of all time.

Dumbledore’s highest-ranking quote has over 50,000 votes, and #10 still has almost 14,000 votes. Here are the 10 most famous quotes from Albus Dumbledore:

1. “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

2. “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

3. “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

4. “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

5. “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

6. “You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be!”

7. “Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.”

8. “The truth. It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”

9. “Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.”

10. “Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.”


The 10 Most Underrated Dumbledore Quotes You’ve Likely Never Heard

Given Dumbledore is a main character in a series spanning seven books — a character people make two-hour long videos about just to understand him better — we could keep dropping his wisdom for days. However, while his most popular lines also contain some of his most important ones, you won’t catch some of his best but underrated bits by just looking at his “most liked” list of quotes.

That’s why I went a little deeper down the rabbit hole and dug up 10 more gems of his you likely haven’t heard. I’ll include some context for each one as to why I think it’s great in the notes section below the quotes. Here they are:

11. “As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all — the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.

12. “Every guest in this Hall will be welcomed back here at any time, should they wish to come. I say to you all, once again — in the light of Lord Voldemort’s return, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. Lord Voldemort’s gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust. Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

13. “I DON’T CARE!” Harry yelled at them, snatching up a lunascope and throwing it into the fireplace. “I’VE HAD ENOUGH, I’VE SEEN ENOUGH, I WANT OUT, I WANT IT TO END, I DON’T CARE ANYMORE —” He seized the table on which the silver instrument had stood and threw that too. It broke apart on the floor and the legs rolled in different directions. “You do care,” said Dumbledore. He had not flinched or made a single move to stop Harry demolishing his office. His expression was calm, almost detached. “You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it.

14. “Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.

15. “Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young … and I seem to have forgotten lately…”

16. “Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery. He needs to know who has put him through the ordeal he has suffered tonight, and why.”

17. “Voldemort himself created his worst enemy, just as tyrants everywhere do! Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realize that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one who rises against them and strikes back!”

18. “Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.

19. “It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.”

20. “Ah” said Dumbledore gently, “yes. Yes, I thought we might hit that little snag. […] You seem to be laboring under the delusion that I am going to — what is the phrase? ‘Come quietly.’ I am afraid I am not going to come quietly at all, Cornelius. I have absolutely no intention of being sent to Azkaban. I could break out, of course — but what a waste of time, and frankly, I can think of a whole host of things I would rather be doing.

Notes

  1. This quote shows Dumbledore understands how easily power can corrupt and elegantly encourages a young Harry to stay humble at the same time.
  2. The speech Dumbledore gives to the students of all three wizarding schools at the end of GoF contains several of his best quotes (quote #9 on this list follows shortly after this one) and is a great piece of writing overall. The “let’s set our differences aside bit” often gets neglected.
  3. Harry’s rage against Dumbledore after Sirius dies is one of the most important conversations in the series. Sadly, it was completely neutered in the movie. The whole passage is worth re-reading because it captures what grief can do to us really well. It’s also a masterclass in conflict management on Dumbledore’s part.
  4. This is such a powerful life lesson, and I’m glad Dumbledore gave it to Harry early on. It’ll reoccur throughout the entire series as Harry continues to educate everyone around him to use Voldemort’s name, for we must face our fears head on.
  5. This is how Dumbledore begins his explanation of why Sirius’ death is his fault right after Harry’s outburst (quote #13). It’s simply a genius bit of insight on J.K. Rowling’s part, and I’d never thought of it like this before. Amazing!
  6. For as much as Dumbledore was pulling the strings behind Harry’s life, he did so regretfully. He was always torn between clueing Harry in and leaving him in the dark, and he often revealed more than he should have. Thankfully, Harry could handle it, and he always did, indeed, recover.
  7. This reminds me of a great picture in which a sole orator stands on a board hanging over a cliff. The only reason he doesn’t fall down is because the crowd stands on the board, keeping him in mid-air. If the people were to turn their back on him, he’d plummet to his death. A great bit of culture, history, and encouragement in this line from Dumbledore.
  8. This is also part of Dumbledore’s conversation with Harry after Sirius’ death, explaining why Sirius treated his house elf, Kreacher, so badly for so long. When someone openly dislikes us, we know what we are up against. When they simply ignore us, we make up all kinds of horror scenarios that plague us until we have certainty. You can’t get along with everyone in life, but you can always be honest and communicate clearly.
  9. After seven years, we finally learn why Dumbledore, one of the greatest wizards ever, didn’t just take on Voldemort himself. Why Harry? Here, we at last get an answer — and it was worth the wait.
  10. For all his slyness and plotting behind a quiet facade, Dumbledore knew when to make a statement, and boy, was he a badass in this one. Even the portrait of Phineas Nigellus Black, a former Slytherin headmaster of Hogwarts, can’t help but admit after Dumbledore’s flashy exit: “You know, Minister, I disagree with Dumbledore on many counts … but you cannot deny he’s got style…”

The Last Words Dumbledore Ever Said to Harry (19 Years Later)

For our last quote, I’ve prepared something special. Earlier this year, I finally went to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in London. It’s a stage play set 19 years after the events of The Deathly Hallows. Whether you consider it canon or not is up to you, but J.K. Rowling wrote the original story it is based upon, and she considers it “the eighth Harry Potter story.” I liked it.

The play mostly revolves around the children of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Draco, but it does fill in gaps from the original story here and there. Naturally, Dumbledore makes an appearance. Of course, the long-dead headmaster is now confined to his portrait in the current Hogwarts headmaster’s office — and a few others, one of which happens to be placed in Harry’s office at the Ministry of Magic.

Twice throughout the play, Harry asks Dumbledore for both advice and closure. Why couldn’t Harry save Cedric Diggory? Why did he have to suffer in Privet Drive? What’s blocking Harry from connecting with his son, and why didn’t Dumbledore, the only true father-figure in his life, ever tell him that he loved him? After Dumbledore tells him that he did, he forever departs Harry’s life — but not without giving him one last piece of amazing, typically Dumbledorish wisdom:

21. “Those that we love never truly leave us, Harry. There are things that death cannot touch. Paint…and memory…and love.”

I highly recommend you go see the play for yourself or read the script*. Form your own opinion, and see if you like this continuation of the Potterverse. This quote, however? I think it’s rock solid. It even mirrors something Dumbledore told Harry early on, in Chapter 22, Owl Post Again, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: “You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don’t recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble?” Dumbledore may no longer be around to fix his mistakes, but as long as Harry knows that he loved him, he’ll never really be gone.


Bonus: 2 Quotes From Movie-Dumbledore That Were Not in the Books

Since this post only covers original quotes from the books, as a bonus, here are two famous Dumbledore lines from the movies that people love. The first is part of Dumbledore’s “Welcome back to Hogwarts” speech in The Prisoner of Azkaban, reminding the students to not let the Dementors hanging about the castle grounds get them down:

22. “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

The second happens during Harry and Dumbledore’s last “meeting” at King’s Cross in The Deathly Hallows:

23. “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time (not just among Dumbledore’s). It captures the entire Harry Potter saga — be it for the words a wizard must use to conjure any spell, from “Expelliarmus” to “Avada Kedavra,” or for the power of a great story to change our lives, just like J.K. Rowling did with Harry Potter.

I love this quote so much, I wrote an essay based on its theme, which became one of my most popular pieces ever (almost 50,000 views!). It’s called All These Flaws You See In Yourself Aren’t Real. If you want even more Dumbledore and magic, you can read it here


Bonus: The 1 Quote Dumbledore Didn’t Say (But We All Think He Did)

The most popular quote from the Potterverse, at least on Goodreads, is the following, with a whopping 100,000+ votes — a feat which only 12 quotes have ever accomplished on the platform:

24. “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” — Sirius Black

Yes, that’s right. Even though it sounds perfectly Dumbledorish, this line actually came from Sirius Black, Harry’s godfather. It’s from chapter 27, Padfoot Returns, from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

In that book, Hermione leads the house elf revolution after coming to care deeply about the often mistreated species, who usually act as servants. At one point, Ron and Hermione argue about the importance of Barty Crouch, the Minister for Magic, sacking his house elf in a suspicious situation. Ron wants to dismiss the topic of the elf quickly, but Sirius interrupts him and sides with Hermione. He agrees that she’s on to something with Crouch, and that’s when he says the above line.

So there you have it! Not a Dumbledore line. That said, as tragic and great a character as he already is, Sirius Black sure deserves the extra credit for this quote, and I hope you’ll remember his name the next time you see it.


Sources

  1. Chapter 18, Dobby’s Reward, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
  2. Chapter 12, The Mirror of Erised, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
  3. Chapter 17, The Man with Two Faces, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
  4. Chapter 35, King’s Cross, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
  5. Chapter 17, The Man with Two Faces, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
  6. Chapter 36, The Parting of the Ways, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
  7. Chapter 35, King’s Cross, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
  8. Chapter 17, The Man with Two Faces, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
  9. Chapter 37, The Beginning, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
  10. Chapter 36, The Parting of the Ways, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
  11. Chapter 17, The Man with Two Faces, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
  12. Chapter 37, The Beginning, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
  13. Chapter 37, The Lost Prophecy, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
  14. Chapter 17, The Man with Two Faces, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
  15. Chapter 37, The Lost Prophecy, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
  16. Chapter 35, Veritaserum, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
  17. Chapter 23, Horcruxes, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
  18. Chapter 37, The Lost Prophecy, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
  19. Chapter 35, King’s Cross, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
  20. Chapter 27, The Centaur and the Sneak, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
  21. Part 2, Act 4, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
  22. Dumbledore’s “Welcome back to Hogwarts” speech in The Prisoner of Azkaban (the movie).
  23. At his and Harry’s last encounter at King’s Cross in The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (the movie).
  24. Chapter 27, Padfoot Returns, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (not Dumbledore, but Sirius Black).

More Dumbledore Quotes

The best way to find even more great Dumbledore quotes, if you ask me, is to simply read (or re-read) the Harry Potter books.* Books have a tendency to reveal to us whatever we need at that moment. Every time you re-read a great book, different parts will speak to you. How long has it been since you last read the books? Chances are, you’re a very different person now, and so you’ll find new, interesting, relevant lines from Dumbledore (and the other characters, of course) that’ll have a big impact on your life that you never noticed before.

Here’s a short overview of the series, long with a button to buy all the books (or individual ones). If you do, you’ll also support me and Four Minute Books with a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

Dumbledore Quotes Book Cover: Harry Potter, The Complete Series, Box Set, Book 1-7

Favorite Quote

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” — Albus Dumbledore

The Books in One Sentence

Harry Potter is the story of an orphan boy who, despite believing he is entirely ordinary, must face a great destiny to save not just everyone he loves but the entire world of wizardry and magic — a world he didn’t even know existed until he was eleven years old.

Why should you read it?

Come on! Really? Asking for reasons to read Harry Potter is akin to asking why you should read at all. It is one of the greatest fantasy sagas of all time, a character-building series for teens and adults alike, and a masterclass in fantastic writing and world-building. Just get the books, will ya? You won’t regret it, I promise.

Key Takeaways

  1. Home isn’t a place, and family isn’t a relation — our happiness depends on people, and who we surround ourselves with is something we can choose.
  2. Magic can’t solve everything, and even the greatest magic is useless without love.
  3. Anyone can be a leader if they choose to stand up for others, but often, the people who only reluctantly embrace the power that comes with responsibility are best suited for the job.

If you want to learn more, you can get the entire 7-book collection (or individual titles) here:


The Best Albus Dumbledore Quotes for Sharing on Social Media

If you want to share any quote on this page, you can use our “highlight and share feature.” Just highlight the quote, and sharing options will appear. That said, we also made some custom images for you to easily tap and share. Some are optimized for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, while others follow Instagram’s classic square format or Pinterest’s more vertical layout.

We considered using some AI art for our backgrounds, but since Dumbledore had not just one, but two great actors playing him in the movies, we stuck with movie stills from the films. The late Richard Harris portrayed Dumbledore in the first two films (but only after his granddaughter threatened she would never speak to him again if he didn’t). After he passed away, Michael Gambon inherited the role, and he, too, did a great job, especially for the later, darker installments of the series. Here’s to two great actors bringing a wonderful character to life. Happy sharing!

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Conclusion

Phew. Finite Incantatem! That’s the end of our list of the 21 best Dumbledore quotes. What are your thoughts? Did I pick well? Did you enjoy the bonus quotes and learn something new? I hope so. In any case, if you want to share a quote I’ve missed or tell us your favorite, simply tweet at us, and perhaps, your spell, I mean, quote, will make it on the next iteration of this list. Until then, may you be as calm as Dumbledore, and may we all live to become at least half as wise.


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:


The 30 Smartest, Funniest, and Most Inspiring Elon Musk Quotes

The 30 Best Elon Musk Quotes Cover

The first time I read Elon Musk‘s name was in Peter Thiel’s book Zero to One. That was in 2014. Back then, not everyone in the world knew who Elon was. Sure, he was already a billionaire, already “famous” by conventional standards, but he was far from the world’s richest person, nor the most-followed account on Twitter. Today, everyone “knows” Elon Musk — but few people actually know anything more than what they read about him in the media. Whether you want to get to know the real Elon or are simply looking for some of his best lines and words of inspiration, today’s list of the best Elon Musk quotes will deliver!

Hi there! My name is Nik. I’m a writer. While I’m not the world’s biggest Elon expert, I’ve been following him for almost ten years. I read his biography, and I’ve watched many an interview and documentary to experience the man in his own words. As such, I have a good overview of what he said when and where, and today, I’d like to put that knowledge to good use.

This organized collection will highlight the 10 most inspiring lines from Elon over the years. We’ll also include his 10 smartest, most-likely-to-blow-your-mind arguments, and his 10 funniest jokes. Unlike most quote lists, we’ll provide the original source for each quote. Finally, we’ll share where you can find even more Elon Musk quotes, briefly summarize his life for you, and provide some premade, custom images you can use to share your favorite “Muskisms” to social media.

 

The easiest way to navigate this list is to jump to whichever section interests you the most using the table of contents below. If you want to share a quote, you can highlight it and various options will appear. Or, just skip to the images section and pick your favorite.

Now, like Elon once said when asked why he put $100+ million, most of his fortune, into a rocket company and a car company instead of sipping Mai Tais on the beach — “Needed to get going on accelerating sustainable energy & making life multi-planetary” — let’s get going!


The 10 Most Inspiring Elon Musk Quotes

Elon gets his inspiration from bringing about a positive, hopeful, optimistic future for humanity. That has been his driving motivator since he was a teenager, and everything he does maps to that vision. In turn, we can get a lot of inspiration from him simply by observing him. Watching the lone warrior fight against the odds makes us want to do and be better, too.

Every now and then, however, Elon also speaks to inspiration more directly. Here are what I think to be his 10 most heartening lines.

1. “Never. I don’t ever give up. I’d have to be dead or completely incapacitated. For my part, I will never give up, and I mean never.”

2. “I think people can choose to be not ordinary. You know, they can choose to not necessarily conform to the conventions that were taught to them by their parents. So, yes, I think it’s possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary.

3. “A source of strength, hm. That’s really not how I think about things. For me it’s simply: This is something that is important to get done, and we we should just keep doing it or die trying. I don’t need a source of strength. [Quitting] is not in my nature, and I don’t care about optimism or pessimism. F*ck that, we’re gonna get it done.”

4. “You guys are the magicians of the 21st century. Don’t let anything hold you back. Imagination is the limit. Go out there and create some magic.”

5. “[Mars] would just be the greatest adventure. Ever. And very exciting. And I think we need things in life that are exciting and inspiring. It can’t just be about solving some awful problem. There have to be reasons to get up in the morning.”

6. “Take risks now. Do something bold. You won’t regret it.”

7. “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds aren’t in your favor.”

8. “When I was a little kid, I was really scared of the dark. But then I came to understand, okay, dark just means the absence of photons in the visible wavelength — 400 to 700 nanometers. Then I thought, well, it’s really silly to be afraid of a lack of photons. Then I wasn’t afraid of the dark anymore after that.”

9. “I feel fear quite strongly. It’s not as though I just have the absence of fear. I feel it quite strongly. But there are times when something is important enough, you believe in it enough, that you do it in spite of the fear. People shouldn’t think, ‘I feel fear about this, and therefore I shouldn’t do it.’ It’s normal to feel fear. There’d have to be something mentally wrong [with you] if you didn’t feel fear. […] If you just accept the probabilities, then that diminishes fear.”

10. “I think it’s very difficult to start companies and quite painful. There’s a friend of mine who’s got a good phrase for doing a startup: ‘It’s like eating glass and staring into the abyss.’ If you’re sort of wired to do it, then you should do it, but not otherwise. If you need inspiring words, don’t do it.

Bonus: For more Elon motivation, watch this video. There are thousands of them out there, so don’t get lost for too long, but that one really blew my socks off.


The 10 Smartest, Most-Likely-to-Blow-Your-Mind Elon Musk Quotes

No matter how inspiring you might be, you don’t become the world’s richest man simply by being someone others find encouraging. You have to change the world. From electric cars to sustainable energy to reusable rockets, sustainable AI, brain interfaces, high-speed transportation, and even a walking, learning-capable robot, Elon continues to do so in more ways than one.

As a shy kid with Asperger’s Syndrome, Elon devoured books about science and philosophy as a teenager. He also holds degrees in economics and physics. Most of his ideas that seem genius to you and me, however, he simply discovered while doing an incredible amount of work in a wide-ranging area of disciplines. Here are the 10 Elon quotes most likely to blow your mind:

11. “Well, I do think there’s a good framework for thinking. It is physics. You know, the sort of first principles reasoning. What I mean by that is boil things down to their fundamental truths and reason up from there, as opposed to reasoning by analogy. Through most of our life, we get through life by reasoning by analogy, which essentially means copying what other people do with slight variations. And you have to do that. Otherwise, mentally, you wouldn’t be able to get through the day. But when you want to do something new, you have to apply the physics approach.”

12. “If somebody is doing something that is useful to the rest of society, I think that’s a good thing. It doesn’t have to change the world. If you make something that has high value to people, and frankly even if it’s a little game or, you know, some improvement in photo-sharing — if it has a small amount of good for a large number of people, I think that’s fine. Having something that makes a big difference but affects a small to moderate number of people is great, as is something that makes an even smaller difference but affects a vast number of people. Stuff doesn’t need to change the world to be good.

13. “I think most people can learn a lot more than they think they can. They sell themselves short without trying. One bit of advice: It is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details, or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”

14. “Somebody could say — and in fact people do — that battery packs are really expensive, and that’s just the way they will always be, because that’s the way they have been in the past. Well, no, that’s pretty dumb. Because if you applied that reasoning to anything new, then you wouldn’t be able to ever get to that new thing. […] For batteries, they would say, ‘historically, it has cost $600 per kilowatt-hour, and so it’s not going to be much better than that in the future.’ So first principles would be to say, ‘What are the material constituents of the batteries? What is the spot market value of the material constituents? It’s got cobalt, nickel, aluminum, carbon, some polymers for separation, and a steel can.’ So break that down on a material basis and say, ‘If we bought that on the London Metal Exchange, what would each of those things cost? Oh, jeez, it’s like $80 per kilowatt-hour.’ So, clearly, you just need to think of clever ways to take those materials and combine them into the shape of a battery cell, and you can have batteries that are much, much cheaper than anyone realizes.”

15. “It’s very important to actively seek out and listen very carefully to negative feedback. This is something that people tend to avoid because it’s painful, but I think this is a very common mistake. To not actively seek out and listen to negative feedback. […] When friends get a product, I say, ‘Look, don’t tell me what you like. Tell me what you don’t like.’ Because otherwise your friend is not going to tell you what he doesn’t like. You really need to sort of coax negative feedback. If somebody’s your friend or at least not your enemy, and they’re giving you negative feedback, then they may be wrong, but it’s coming from a good place.”

16. “I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.

17. “I read a quote from Arthur C. Clark which said that ‘A sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’ And that’s really true. If you go back say, 300 years, the things we take for granted today, you’d be burned at the stake for. Being able to fly. That’s crazy. Being able to see over long distances, being able to communicate, having, effectively, with the Internet, a group mind of sorts, and having access to all the world’s information instantly from almost anywhere on the earth. This is stuff that would be considered magic in times past. In fact, I think it actually goes beyond that, because there are many things that we take for granted today that weren’t even imagined in times past. That weren’t even in the realm of magic. So it actually goes beyond that. So I thought, well, if I can do some of those things – if I can advance technology, then that’s like magic, and that would be really cool.”

18. “A good sign as to whether there’s free speech is: Is someone you don’t like allowed to say something you don’t like? If that is the case, then we have free speech. And it’s damn annoying when someone you don’t like says something you don’t like. [But] that is a sign of a healthy, functioning, free speech situation.”

19. “One of the really tough things is figuring out what questions to ask. Once you figure out the question, then the answer is relatively easy. I came to the conclusion that really we should aspire to increase the scope and scale of human consciousness in order to better understand what questions to ask. The only thing that makes sense to do is strive for greater collective enlightenment.”

20. “Always take the position that you are to some degree wrong, and your goal is to be less wrong over time. One of the biggest mistakes people generally make, and I’m guilty of it too, is wishful thinking. You want something to be true, even if it isn’t true. And so you ignore the real truth because of what you want to be true. This is a very difficult trap to avoid. [So] just take that approach, that you’re always to some degree wrong, and your goal is to be less wrong.”

Bonus: If you’re looking for more smart ideas from the man and want to get deeper into his thinking process, here are 3 of my favorite interviews with him (one short, one medium, one long) that’ll get you the most bang for your buck — or smarts for your time, in this case:

  1. How to Build the Future (with Sam Altman for Y Combinator) (19:32)
  2. Elon Musk talks Twitter, Tesla and how his brain works — live at TED2022 (54:45)
  3. Elon Musk: SpaceX, Mars, Tesla Autopilot, Self-Driving, Robotics, and AI | Lex Fridman Podcast #252 (2:31:47)

The 10 Funniest Elon Musk Quotes

For all his serious, civilization-affecting activities, Elon seems to still have plenty of fun along the way. Unlike most other billionaires, business magnates, politicians, and otherwise influential figures, however, he actually shares his joy with us. He doesn’t take himself too seriously. He is notorious for posting memes on Twitter, cracking jokes, and often following through on what at first seems like a prank announcement.

From labeling Tesla’s car model lineup with letters spelling “S3XY” to selling flamethrowers, “boring hats,” and burned hair to repainting the sign on Twitter’s headquarters to look like it spells “Titter,” Elon’s antics have made for many laughs over the years. At times, they’ve also gotten him into trouble. In any case, here are Elon’s 10 funniest tweets and jokes:

21. After his acquisition of Twitter to prioritize free speech on the platform again: “Next I’m buying Coca-Cola to put the cocaine back in.”

22. “I would like to die on Mars — just not on impact.”

23. On wrecking his McLaren F1 with Peter Thiel in the passenger seat: “We’re driving up Sand Hill Road, and Peter says: ‘So, what can this do?’ And then, probably number one on the list of famous last words, I said: ‘Watch this.’”

24. While entering Twitter HQ after acquiring the company, holding a sink: “Let that sink in!”

25. After almost dying from a misdiagnosed type of malaria, which he acquired on his first vacation, a trip to Africa, in years: “That’s my lesson for taking a vacation: Vacations will kill you.”

26. “If there’s ever a scandal about me, please call it Elongate.”

27. “I put the art in fart.”

28. For the chemistry nerds: “Technically, alcohol is a solution.”

29. When asked why so many of the SpaceX rocket launches happen at night: “It’s much easier to do the CGI that way.”

30. On the need to go to Mars and beyond: “We can’t be one of those lame one-planet civilizations!”

Bonus: If you want more fun Elon, here’s him hosting Meme Review PewDiePie-style, and here’s a collection of all his appearances in TV shows, cartoons, and Hollywood movies.


Sources

  1. This one I pieced together from an interview and his message to SpaceX employees after the third Falcon launch failure.
  2. From an interview at SpaceX.
  3. Talking to Lex Fridman on his podcast.
  4. From his commencement speech at Caltech in 2012.
  5. Talking to Vanity Fair in 2014.
  6. From his USC commencement speech in 2014.
  7. On 60 Minutes in 2012.
  8. From a documentary I can’t locate in full.
  9. In a 2016 interview with Y Combinator.
  10. To students of Draper University at a Tesla factory tour.
  11. In conversation with head of TED, Chris Anderson, in 2013.
  12. Pieced together from two sections of the Y Combinator interview (one and two).
  13. In a Reddit AMA.
  14. Talking to Kevin Rose.
  15. Also from the Kevin Rose interview.
  16. Talking to Lance Ulanoff for Mashable.
  17. From the Caltech commencement speech.
  18. Live at TED 2022.
  19. As quoted in his biography.
  20. During the World Government Summit in 2017.
  21. His most liked tweet.
  22. At South by Southwest in 2013.
  23. In a PandoDaily interview in 2012.
  24. On Twitter.
  25. As quoted in his biography.
  26. Twitter.
  27. Another tweet.
  28. Also Twitter.
  29. Twitter.
  30. Aaaaand Twitter.

More Elon Musk Quotes

The more famous someone becomes, the more people love to put words in their mouth. That’s why there’s a plethora of fake Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, and, well, Elon Musk quotes. Therefore, it’s always best to verify your quotes and stick to their sources. When it comes to Elon, those can be his Twitter account and in-person interviews.

But the best bulk source for more Elon quotes, in my opinion, is Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future*, the only authorized biography of Elon so far, based on more than 30 hours of interviews with him directly and over 200 people who know him. The book is from 2015. There’s also a new biography by famed biographer Walter Isaacson that just came out, but I can’t speak to that one yet. But chronologically speaking, this one’s a great account of the early Tesla and SpaceX days — and Elon’s early life, of course.

Here’s a short overview of the book and two snazzy buttons to either buy the book (and support us with a small commission at no extra charge to you) or read our free, four-minute summary.

Elon Musk Quotes: Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“If the rules are such that you can’t make progress, then you have to fight the rules.” — Elon Musk

The Book in One Sentence

Elon Musk is the first official biography of the creator of SolarCity, SpaceX and Tesla, based on over 30 hours of conversation time between author Ashlee Vance and Musk himself, highlighting his complicated childhood, the way he makes decisions and navigates the world, and how he managed to disrupt multiple industries, all with the goal of saving humanity.

Why should you read it?

Whether you’re a casual observer, hesitant skeptic, or diehard Elon fan, this book provides a great, mostly objective description of his life. It’s easy to judge someone based on a headline some reporter wrote to get clicks and make money. Truly getting to know someone takes work. At the same time, spending a few hours reading a book isn’t that much effort. After reading this book, you’ll know and understand Elon Musk better than 99% of all people on the planet — and there’s a big chance you’ll learn something new for your own journey along the way.

Key Takeaways

  1. Answering questions is easy, asking the right questions is what’s hard.
  2. Use a success-through-determination approach to accomplish your goals.
  3. Unify all of your work under the roof of one giant goal to have a bigger impact on the world.

If you want to learn more, you can read our free, four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself:

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The Best Elon Musk Quotes for Sharing on Social Media

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

Elon is obsessed with truth. It’s important to him to understand the world as it truly is and for people to know what his real motives are. He’s also skeptical of the advent of AI. He believes it’s an important and inevitable technology, but also that it must be realized in the right way. As such, we’ve decided to not use AI-generated background images this time. Instead, we stuck with real pictures of Elon Musk, the human being — we hope you’ll enjoy and he won’t mind. Happy sharing!

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Who Is Elon Musk? (His Life in 500 Words)

Born in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1971, Elon grew up in a large family of constant travelers. His dad was an engineer and pilot and had a small plane. Elon was a shy and introverted kid, often bullied in school. He usually preferred books and video games to people, and he even sold a game he programmed at age 12 for $500. Elon’s parents divorced when he was nine. After mostly living with his father until he was of age, he became estranged from him and moved to Canada with his brother Kimbal. Initially, they made ends meet working odd jobs, as lumberjacks, for example.

Elon’s goal was always to reach and live in the US, the land of opportunity. He knew it would be easier to get a visa in Canada, and he was right. After attending university for a bit in Ontario, he switched to University of Pennsylvania and attained Bachelor degrees in both physics and economics. Instead of continuing in academia, however, Elon dropped out of his PhD program to start an early internet company with Kimbal. Zip2 brought businesses online and helped newspapers host city guides on the web. They sold the business for $300 million at the height of the dot-com boom.

After that, Elon founded X.com, a payments service which competed and later merged with PayPal. The latter was sold to Ebay for $1.5 billion. Musk then started SpaceX, a reusable-rocket company, and, after getting it off the ground, became Tesla’s CEO in 2008. The early days of those companies were brutal. On the outside, Elon looked wealthy. But of his $180 million fortune, not a single cent was left after funding these ventures. He even had to borrow money for rent.

Between funding issues that almost bankrupted both companies several times, four failed rocket launches before one finally worked, short sellers trying to manipulate Tesla’s stock, and three years of “production hell,” during which Elon slept on the floor in the Tesla factory as they desperately tried to ramp up Model 3 output to mass scale, his path to success has been anything but easy. Fortunately, today, 15 years after becoming Tesla’s CEO, Elon is still mainly known for being head of the electric car manufacturer. However, he has also started a slew of other ventures since.

From OpenAI (a non-profit to further controlled AI development) to Starlink (hardware for remote internet access from anywhere), Neuralink (a direct brain-to-computer interface system), and single-handedly buying Twitter, it’s hard to keep track of everything Elon does — and, as in his illustrious and wandering life path, there’s a lesson in that we can take away: Study widely, dive into anything you’re interested in, and never stop learning.

If Elon can teach himself how to program computer games, how to build rockets, and how to get a factory to churn out 100,000+ cars per month, there’s almost nothing you can’t learn either. We hope our list of quotes will inspire you to go after something you’re passionate about or, if you’re already doing that, give it even a little more effort than you already have been.


Conclusion

That’s it! That concludes our list of the 30 best quotes from Elon Musk. What do you think? Did we make some good picks? Or is there something you’re missing? In either case, tweet us your favorite Elon quote, and we’ll continue to occasionally update this list as Elon says more inspiring, smart, and funny things — which I’m sure he’ll keep doing regardless of what anyone thinks of him — and if nothing else, that’s a quality worth emulating.


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:


414 Short Inspirational Quotes to Motivate You Right Now (2024)

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It’s 1 PM. You’re still tired from eating a too-big lunch (again), and your third coffee hasn’t kicked in yet. What can you do to get through the day? How can you muster your courage, focus your attention, and summon some extra energy to keep doing a few more hours of work that matters? The answer: Short inspirational quotes — and in this organized list, you’ll find exactly the one you need.

Hi, my name is Nik! I’m the founder of Four Minute Books. In 2016, I published 365 book summaries. That personal challenge is how this site began. Since then, our library has grown to over 1,200 titles, and, needless to say, my tiny team and I have come across an inspiring line or two along the way.

At Four Minute Books, everything we do follows a system. That’s why this list is different. Instead of a loose collection of the same quotes from the same people, quickly cobbled together and many of them misattributed, we went above and beyond to get you the very best, short inspiring quotes — a whopping 414 of them, to be exact — following a strict set of rules and selection criteria.

Whether you want to find a new perspective on a challenging problem, stop procrastinating and do the important work that lies in front of you, or light your inner spark to start something new and magical, we’ll help you find the right words, right now.


How To Use This List

We’ll kick off this list with the most popular inspirational quotes of all time based on real reader votes. Then, we’ll move through quotes about different themes, like motivation, success, and relationships. Next, I’ll share some personal favorites of mine from people I know (real quotes!), my own writing (8 years and counting), and hard-hitters that changed my perspective forever. After that, we’ll look at short quotes from some extremely inspiring people and professional one-line wisdom-dispensers, like Seth Godin and Brené Brown. We’ll also discover some magical lines from Harry Potter and other famous fantasy worlds, closing out with wisdom from “untouchable” heroes like Yoda, Bruce Lee, and the ancient Stoics.

 

Of course, you can also share to your heart’s content: If you highlight any quote, sharing options will appear, and the second-to-last section of this list comes packed with 100 pre-formatted images for various social media platforms. For more details about the methodology behind this list, go to the last section of this list.

Finally, this is list is super easy to navigate, thanks to the table of contents above. Simply click on any section, and jump right to the kind of wisdom you need right now.

We tried our best to make this the last list of short inspiring quotes you’ll ever need. Bookmark it, skim it, and browse it until you find the line that helps you move forward. And if you have an idea on how we can make it better, don’t hesitate to tell us on Twitter.

Here are 414 absolutely epic, short motivational quotes!


The 34 Most Popular Short Inspirational Quotes of All Time

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According to Goodreads’ nearly 100 million members, these are the 34 most popular quotes that fit our criteria. The top quote has 166,000+ votes, and it goes down from there. Moving along the list, I decided to include all quotes down to 40,000 votes.

Here go the 34 most popular short but inspiring quotes of all time:

1. “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ― Anonymous

2. “So many books, so little time.” ― Frank Zappa

3. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” ― Bernard M. Baruch

4. “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” ― Dr. Seuss

5. “You only live once, but if you work it right, once is enough.” — Joe E. Lewis

6. “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

7. “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” ― Robert Frost

8. “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” ― J.K. Rowling

9. “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” ― Anonymous

10. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Anonymous

11. “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” ― Elbert Hubbard

12. “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” ― Oscar Wilde

13. “Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.” ― Percy Colson

14. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

15. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

16. “We accept the love we think we deserve.” ― Stephen Chbosky

17. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

18. “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” ― Narcotics Anonymous

19. “It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.” ― Andre Gide

20. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” ― H. Jackson Brown Jr

21. “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” ― J.K. Rowling

22. “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” ― Marilyn Monroe

23. “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ― Albert Einstein

24. “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” ― J.K. Rowling

25. “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” ― Oscar Wilde

26. “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” ― Neil Gaiman

27. “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” ― William Shakespeare

28. “It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” ― Maurice Switzer

29. “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” ― Mark Twain

30. “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” ― Allen Saunders

31. “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” ― Bill Keane

32. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ― Thomas A. Edison

33. “A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

34. “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” ― Mark Twain


32 Inspiring Quotes for Motivation

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If you’re looking for short quotes specifically for motivation — to run your errands, to start or finish an important project, to go work out at the gym — try the following 32 hard-hitters we’ve compiled from around the web:

1. “Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.” ― Roy T. Bennett

2. “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” ― Zig Ziglar

3. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

4. “Success is never final; failure is never fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Anonymous

5. “He who says he can and he who says he can’t are both usually right.” — Confucius

6. “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.” ― Arthur C. Clarke

7. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life — and that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan

8. “The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.” — Theodore Roosevelt

9. “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” — Adelaide Anne Procter

10. “Either you run the day or the day runs you.” — Jim Rohn

11. “Opportunity is often missed because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” — Anonymous

12. “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” — Alice Walker

13. “Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” — Les Brown

14. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.” — Jessie Potter

15. “It is your decisions, and not your conditions, that determine your destiny.” — Tony Robbins

16. “Never say never, because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.” — Michael Jordan 

17. “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” ― Oprah Winfrey

18. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” ― Marianne Williamson

19. “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” ― Leo Tolstoy

20. “What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.” ― Maya Angelou

21. “Death is being alive and not knowing it.” — Anonymous

22. “Of course motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.” ― Zig Ziglar

23. “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” — Anonymous

24. “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” — Amelia Earhart

25. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” — Wayne Gretzky

26. “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” — George Addair

27. “There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized.” — Conan O’Brien

28. “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.” ― J.K. Rowling

29. “You drown not by falling into the river, but by staying submerged in it.” — Paulo Coelho

30. “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” ― Arnold Schwarzenegger

31. “You’re already in pain. You’re already hurt. Use it! Do something with it! Get a reward from it. Allow your pain to push you to greatness.” — Eric Thomas

32. “There’s no excuse to not be the hardest worker in the room, whatever it may be, your job, the gym, your relationship. Your name’s attached to it, and that has to mean more than anything.” — Greg Plitt


32 Inspiring Quotes About Success

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Want some short, punchy quotes to motivate you to go after what you truly want out of life? Here are 32 brief but powerful quotes about persistence and finding success:

1. “I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.” ― Herbert Bayard Swope

2. “It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” ― Herman Melville

3. “Success is not how high you have climbed, but how you make a positive difference to the world.” ― Roy T. Bennett

4. “Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.” ― Truman Capote

5. “Have no fear of perfection — you’ll never reach it.” ― Salvador Dali

6. “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.” — Napoleon Hill

7. “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” — Anonymous

8. “Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” — Coco Chanel

9. “What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.” — Bob Dylan

10. “There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.” — Zig Ziglar

11. “There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.” — Roger Staubach

12. “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” ― Oliver Goldsmith

13. “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” — Stephen R. Covey

14. “Some of the biggest failures I ever had were successes. A man has to try in order to grow, and try again. The point is that it’s the trying that does it, and not necessarily achieving what he is attempting to do.” — Pearl Bailey

15. “Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.” — Albert Einstein

16. “You may get to the very top of the ladder and then find it has not been leaning against the right wall.” — Allen Raine

17. “Success is failure turned inside out.” — Edgar A. Guest

18. “I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took an excuse.” — Florence Nightingale

19. “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” — Anonymous

20. “He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much.” — Bessie A. Stanley

21. “Work hard in silence and let success make the noise.” — Anonymous

22. “Inspiration is for amateurs—the rest of us just show up and get to work.” — Chuck Close

23. “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” — Dale Carnegie

24. “Most men and women die intellectually at 25, but are not buried until 60.” — G. E. Marchand

25. “People of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” — Elinor Smith

26. “A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a man. Kites rise against not with the wind.” — John Neal

27. “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” — Steve Jobs

28. “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” — Sun Tzu

29. “If you hang out with chickens, you’re going to cluck, and if you hang out with eagles, you’re going to fly.” ― Steve Maraboli

30. “80 percent of success is showing up.” — Woody Allen

31. “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” — Francis Chan

32. “Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.” ― Robert T. Kiyosaki


32 Inspiring Quotes About Relationships

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Did you just go through a breakup? Have you recently fallen in love? Are you going through a rough patch with a friend or family member? Perhaps, a tiny dose of new perspective will lead to a breakthrough.

Here are 32 short inspiring quotes about human relationships:

1. “They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel.” — Carl W. Buehner

2. “Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.” ― J.K. Rowling

3. “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” — Carl Jung

4. “For the two of us, home isn’t a place. It is a person. And we are finally home.” ― Stephanie Perkins

5. “The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.” ― Ernest Hemingway

6. “When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.” — Donald Miller

7. “There is greatness in doing something you hate for the sake of someone you love.” ― Shmuley Boteach

8. “Friendship isn’t a big thing—it’s a million little things.” — Paulo Coelho

9. “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

10. “There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” ― Jane Austen

11. “I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.” ― Helen Keller

12. “Life is an awful, ugly place to not have a best friend.” ― Sarah Dessen

13. “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” ― C.S. Lewis

14. “You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” ― A.A. Milne

15. “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” ― Elie Wiesel

16. “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” — Dean Koontz

17. “No one on his deathbed ever said, ‘I wish I had spent more time on my business.’” — Arnold Zack

18. “I destroy my enemies by making them my friends.” — Anonymous

19. “Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” ― Robert A. Heinlein

20. “Love is like the wind — you can’t see it but you can feel it.” ― Nicholas Sparks

21. “You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.” ― Jodi Picoult

22. “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” — Alfred Lord Tennyson

23. “One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.” ― Paulo Coelho

24. “Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him.” — Booker T. Washington

25. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” — Steve Jobs

26. “A wish for friendship may arise quickly, but friendship does not.” — Aristotle

27. “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien

28. “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” ― Leo Tolstoy

29. “When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching — they are your family.” ― Jim Butcher

30. “I have learned that to be with those I like is enough.” ― Walt Whitman

31. “A real friend walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” — Anonymous

32. “When we attempt to exercise power or control over someone else, we cannot avoid giving that person the very same power or control over us.” ― Alan Watts


16 Short Inspiring Quotes From the People in My Life

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Okay, inspiring quotes from famous people are great, but what about the people we know? If we look and listen, there’s plenty of inspiration to be found right inside our homes, offices, and when spending time with friends and loved ones.

To that end, here are 16 short quotes from the people in my life that continue to inspire me throughout the years. For more, see here.

1. “What you don’t have in your head, you gotta have in your legs.” — My grandma, about forgetting one’s keys

2. “Nonsense.” — My uncle, about everything that wasn’t one of his priorities

3. “My boss used to say: ‘I’ve been producing ‘navy blue’ for 40 years!’ That’s when I knew I needed to get out of there.” — My dad about his first job at a chemical company making dyes

4. “If you can go to bed late, you can also get up early.” — My grandma, on laziness

5. “Tomorrow’s another day.” — My mom, whenever I was sick, down, broken, or defeated

6. “All you have to do to get the career you want is to figure out the building blocks it requires, then chain them together.” — My other uncle, senior partner at a big consulting firm

7. “Everyone should know how to set up and run a blog.” — My statistics professor in the US, right before making the entire class do just that.

8. “We learn for life, not for school.” — A friend from college, trying to alleviate the pain of 12-hour study sessions

9. “The days when we least want to exercise are the days we need it the most.” — A former roommate

10. “Everything happens for a reason.” — An ex-girlfriend

11. “Whatever money can solve, let it.” — My girlfriend

12. “I like studying in big libraries. I need room to think.” — Another roommate

13. “Take all the time you need.” — My girlfriend, whenever she has to wait for me

14. “I would not say a word — so I don’t accidentally change anything.” — Bill Gates, about what he’d tell his 20-year-old self on the phone (while giving a talk at my college)

15. “Sympathy is free, envy must be earned.” — My mom, whenever someone attacks me because I’m different in any way, shape, or form

16. “There were always moments when one or the other could have left, but what better thing might follow?” — My grandma, about how she managed to stay married for almost 60 years


32 Short Inspiring Quotes That Made a Big Impact on Me

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Some lines hit us harder than others, and it’s often a matter of “right place, right time.” Chances are, a movie you watch right after a tragic breakup will leave a more lasting impression than one you casually run in the background on a Tuesday while boiling your pasta. That’s why our personal selection of quotes that affected us in a big way is highly subjective — but if we share our collections, perhaps for someone else, an idea or two will also come in the right place and at the right time.

Here are 32 short, deep quotes from books I’ve read, movies I’ve watched, TED talks I’ve listened to, and more:

1. “All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost. The old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost.” — J.R.R. Tolkien

2. “Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” — Alfred to Batman

3. “You should think of the word depressed as ‘deep rest.’ Deep. Rest. Your body needs to be depressed. It needs deep rest from the character that you’ve been trying to play.” — Jim Carrey

4. “Sometimes things have to fall apart to make way for better things.” — Ted Mosby

5. “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” — Paulo Coelho

6. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” — Sir Ken Robinson

7. “Always the stairs, never the escalator.” — Casey Neistat

8. “Life is long if you know how to use it.” — Seneca

9. “Every child is an artist. The problem is to remain an artist once we grow up.” — Picasso

10. “If more people valued home above gold, this world would be a merrier place.” — Thorin Oakenshield

11. “Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong.” — Peter Drucker

12. “If you have to take a vacation, never come back.” — Joel Salatin

13. “The safest way to try and get what you want is to try and deserve what you want.” — Charlie Munger

14. “The moment you accept total responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you claim the power to change anything in your life.” — Hal Elrod

15. “The person who makes it is the person who keeps on going after everyone else has quit.” — Jerry Weintraub

16. “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” — Benjamin Franklin

17. “You have to make yourself the only person who controls your dreams.” — James Altucher

18. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” — Steve Jobs

19. “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” — Eldridge Cleaver

20. “One is greater than zero.” — Gary Vaynerchuk

21. “The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” — Steven Pressfield

22. “You must believe in yourself enough to be the person now that others will remember later.” — Greg Plitt

23. “No matter who you are, no matter what you do, no matter who your audience is: 30 percent will love it, 30 percent will hate it, and 30 percent won’t care. Stick with the people who love you and don’t spend a single second on the rest. Life will be better that way.” — James Altucher

24. “Everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you.” — Steve Jobs

25. “They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun.” — Jor-El (Superman’s Dad)

26. “Death is what gives life meaning.” — The Ancient One (Dr. Strange)

27. “Being an entrepreneur is mostly about trusting in your ability to figure it out.” — James Clear

28. “Don’t be what they made you.” — Wolverine

29. “Your move, chief.” — Robin Williams

30. “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.” — Walt Whitman

31. “Whatever people say, there is right, there is wrong. There is nothing in between.” — Hercule Poirot

32. “Anger is a hot coal you’re holding, waiting to throw it at somebody.” — Zen proverb


28 Short Inspiring Quotes From My Own Writing

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You might not know this, but, next to running Four Minute Books, I’m a writer. I’ve been writing almost daily for over eight years, and since 2022, I also publish a free daily blog. In 2018, I compiled some of the best life lessons I’ve learned thanks to writing.

If you want to see them all, you can ready my post “Everything I Know Is True,” but here are the most inspiring ones:

1. “The only person you’ll spend the rest of your life with is you.” — Niklas Göke

2. “If you run out of kind words for yourself, stop talking.” — Niklas Göke

3. “The truth about ourselves is what we choose to believe.” — Niklas Göke

4. “Freedom is always internal.” — Niklas Göke

5. “Having a choice matters more than whatever choice you make.” — Niklas Göke

6. “We should believe more in what we create and less in what we emulate.” — Niklas Göke

7. “We can’t choose what we’re raised to value, but we can choose to change.” — Niklas Göke

8. “What we learn alone is what we carry into our interactions with others.” — Niklas Göke

9. “Comparison is not just the death of joy, it is also the birth of misery.” — Niklas Göke

10. “It’s better to be curious than judgmental, and impossible to be both at once.” — Niklas Göke

11. “Study the failures of those around you, not the wins of those far away.” — Niklas Göke

12. “Changing your perspective is hard, but let it always be your first try.” — Niklas Göke

13. “Aging won’t free you from stupidity. Only learning will.” — Niklas Göke

14. “A mistake is only as valuable as the time you spend learning from it.” — Niklas Göke

15. “Every lesson in life comes at the expense of unlearning another.” — Niklas Göke

16. “The more you listen, the smarter you get. Listening leads to learning.
The smarter you get, the more you listen. Learning leads to humility.” — Niklas Göke

17. “You don’t need an identity to have a life.” — Niklas Göke

18. “The only way to stay true to who you are is to change every day.” — Niklas Göke

19. “Reality consists of subjects and verbs. We supply all the adjectives.” — Niklas Göke

20. “The only place where we can truly live is the present. It all happens here.” — Niklas Göke

21. “Peace of mind relies on having faith in present-you.” — Niklas Göke

22. “When the outside world is loud, be quiet inside.” — Niklas Göke

23. “Your work should reflect who you are, not what you want your life to be.” — Niklas Göke

24. “The easiest way to attract what you desire is to deserve what you want.” — Niklas Göke

25. “Wanting what makes you happy requires wanting the right things.” — Niklas Göke

26. “Half of happiness is learning to love everything you don’t have.” — Niklas Göke

27. “If you travel because you’re unhappy, you’ll never reach your destination.” — Niklas Göke

28. “What you do in your one life will be everything you ever do.” — Niklas Göke


24 Short Inspiring Quotes About Leaving Your Comfort Zone

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My very first article was about leaving your comfort zone. Naturally, I have a soft spot for that topic. When I couldn’t find a list of quotes specifically mentioning “the comfort zone” as a concept, I made one. Here are some of the best lines I found. May they push you to challenge yourself and try something new:

1. “A comfort zone is a beautiful place – but nothing ever grows there.” — Anonymous

2. “Comfort is the enemy of achievement.” — Farrah Gray

3. “Great things never came from comfort zones.” — Anonymous

4. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” — Neale Donald Walsh

5. “A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what a ship is built for.” — John Augustus Shedd

6. “Outside of the comfort zone is where the magic happens.” — Anonymous

7. “A scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar.” — Lao-Tzu

8. “As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.” — Robin S. Sharma

9. “When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.” — Eckhart Tolle

10. “Great people do things before they’re ready.” — Amy Poehler

11. “Comfort zones are plush lined coffins. When you stay in your plush lined coffin, you die.” — Stan Dale

12. “Everything you desire is always just outside your comfort zone. If it wasn’t, you would already possess it, would you not?” — Chris Murray

13. “To the degree we’re not living our dreams, our comfort zone has more control of us than we have over ourselves.” — Peter McWilliams

14. “As long as you’re uncomfortable, it means you’re growing.” — Ashton Kutcher

15. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

16. “It’s good to feel stupid sometimes and do things that are out of your comfort zone.” — Mary-Louise Parker

17. “I have stepped outside my comfort zone enough to know that, yes, the world does fall apart, but not in the way that you fear.” — Tan Le

18. “It’s when you begin to think about going to your dream that your dream is always outside of your comfort zone. It’s always beyond what you’ve ever done.” — Bruce Wilkinson

19. “In the long run, our comfort zone becomes our uncomfortable zone.” — Charles F. Glassman

20. “When you go out of your comfort zone and it works, there’s nothing more satisfying.” — Kristen Wiig

21. “If your circle doesn’t challenge you to grow beyond your comfort zone, then you are definitely in the wrong circle.” — Edmond Mbiaka

22. “So when you feel this time approaching, and your comfort zone’s in view. Stop and think about what you’re feeling, and see if what you’re feeling is true.” — Julie Hebert

23. “To be outstanding – get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” — Alrik Koudenburg

24. “Find your uncomfortzone.” — Anonymous


28 Short Quotes From Naval Ravikant

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One of my favorite sources of wisdom is the investor, philosopher, and grade-A thinker Naval Ravikant. I’ve been following him for years, and I highly recommend a book of his ideas compiled by Eric Jorgenson, called The Almanack of Naval Ravikant. Here are 28 of his best quotes from Twitter, the book, and his interviews:

1. “Life is a single player game.” — Naval Ravikant

2. “If you’re not willing to do a wholesale, 24/7, 100% swap with who that person is, then there is no point in being jealous.” — Naval Ravikant

3. “My old definition was ‘freedom to’, freedom to do anything I want. Now I would say that the freedom I’m looking for is internal freedom. It’s ‘freedom from.’” — Naval Ravikant

4. “Happiness to me is mainly not suffering, not desiring, not thinking too much about the future or the past, really embracing the present moment and the reality of what is, the way it is.” — Naval Ravikant

5. “Wisdom is knowing the long-term consequences of your actions.” — Naval Ravikant

6. “It’s very hard to be successful in business if you’re trying to live a well-rounded life.”  — Naval Ravikant

7. “To win at a status game, you have to put somebody else down. Avoid status games. They make you into an angry, combative person.” — Naval Ravikant

8. “Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.” — Naval Ravikant

9. “A great goal in life would be to not have to be in a given place at a given time.” — Naval Ravikant

10. “Whenever you can in life, if you have the choice, optimize for independence rather than optimize for pay.” — Naval Ravikant

11. “The smartest and the most successful people I know started out as losers.” — Naval Ravikant

12. “All the returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest.” — Naval Ravikant

13. “Leverage is a force multiplier for your judgement.” — Naval Ravikant

14. “Reading is faster than listening. Doing is faster than watching.” — Naval Ravikant

15. “Work as hard as you can. Even though who you work with and what you work on are more important than how hard you work.” — Naval Ravikant

16. “Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true.” — Naval Ravikant

17. “Doctors won’t make you healthy. Nutritionists won’t make you slim. Teachers won’t make you smart. Gurus won’t make you calm. Mentors won’t make you rich. Trainers won’t make you fit. Ultimately, you have to take responsibility. Save yourself.” — Naval Ravikant

18. “The only real test of intelligence is if you get what you want out of life.” — Naval Ravikant

19. “The quality of your mind is the quality of your life.” — Naval Ravikant

20. “The more neatly you fit into society, the less free you actually are.” — Naval Ravikant

21. “You’re spending time to save money when you should be spending money to save time.” — Naval Ravikant

22. “If you want to make the wrong decision, ask everyone.” — Naval Ravikant

23. “Read the books they want to ban.” — Naval Ravikant

24. “The secret to a happy relationship is two happy people.” — Naval Ravikant

25. “If you aren’t willing to be mocked, you’ll never be able to lead.” — Naval Ravikant

26. “People think they can’t change themselves, but they can. People think they can change others, but they can’t.” — Naval Ravikant

27. “Your success in life depends on your ability to make good decisions. Your happiness depends on your ability to not care about the outcomes.” — Naval Ravikant

28. “It takes time to develop your gut, but once it’s developed, don’t listen to anything else.” — Naval Ravikant


32 Short Quotes From Seth Godin

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Seth Godin is a legend in the world of marketing, but his talks, daily blog, and some 20+ bestsellers go way beyond brilliant branding and sales advice. He is one of few people I consider a true role model, from his ethics to his attitude to his thinking. My #1 book recommendation is The Dip. Here are some of his best lines:

1. “You have only two good choices: Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.” — Seth Godin

2. “The long way is the shortcut.” — Seth Godin

3. “In many mature markets, it takes 10,000 hours of preparation to win because most people give up after 5,000 hours. That’s the only magic thing about 10k… it’s a hard number to reach, so most people bail.” — Seth Godin

4. “You don’t win an Olympic gold medal with a few weeks of intensive training. […] Every great company, every great brand, and every great career has been built in exactly the same way: bit by bit, step by step, little by little.” — Seth Godin

5. “Writer’s block is a myth, a recent invention, a cultural malady. […] It doesn’t matter if anyone reads it, buys it, sponsors it or shares it. It matters that you show up.” — Seth Godin

6. “Everyone who can [read] this has more power than they think they do. The question is, what are you going to do with that power?” — Seth Godin

7. “Transferring your passion to your job is far easier than finding a job that happens to match your passion.” — Seth Godin

8. “The secret to being wrong isn’t to avoid being wrong! The secret is being willing to be wrong. The secret is realizing that wrong isn’t fatal.” ― Seth Godin

9. “The job is not the work. The job is what you do when you are told what to do. Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it.” — Seth Godin

10. “All anxiety is is experiencing failure in advance.”  —  Seth Godin

11. “A woodpecker can tap twenty times on a thousand trees and get nowhere, but stay busy. Or he can tap twenty-thousand times on one tree and get dinner.” ― Seth Godin

12. “Never quit something with great long-term potential just because you can’t deal with the stress of the moment.” ― Seth Godin

13. “Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt.” ― Seth Godin

14. “You’re astonishing. How dare you waste it.” ― Seth Godin

15. “Just about everything you learned in school about life is wrong, but the wrongest thing might very well be this: Being well-rounded is the secret to success.” ― Seth Godin

16. “The Dip is the long stretch between beginner’s luck and real accomplishment.” ― Seth Godin

17. “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” ― Seth Godin

18. “The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.” ― Seth Godin

19. “Reject the tyranny of picked. Pick yourself.” ― Seth Godin

20. “Life is like skiing. The goal is not to get to the bottom of the hill. It’s to have a bunch of good runs before the sun sets.” — Seth Godin

21. “Go ahead, do something impossible.” — Seth Godin

22. “If failure is not an option, then neither is success.” — Seth Godin

23. “If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.” — Seth Godin

24. “The reason they want you to fit in is that once you do, then they can ignore you.” — Seth Godin

25. “You can raise the bar or you can wait for others to raise it, but it’s getting raised regardless.” — Seth Godin

26. “The job isn’t to catch up to the status quo; the job is to invent the status quo.” — Seth Godin

27. “The key to success is to find a way to stand out – to be the purple cow in a field of monochrome Holsteins.” — Seth Godin

28. “The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing.” — Seth Godin

29. “You have everything you need to build something far bigger than yourself.” — Seth Godin

30. “You don’t have to settle. It’s a choice you get to make every day.” — Seth Godin

31. “It’s clearly more fun to make the rules than to follow them.” — Seth Godin

32. “The moment you talk about work/life balance you already missed the balance. Work and life overlap.” — Seth Godin


16 Short Quotes From Ryan Holiday

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When it comes to philosophy and overall perspective on life, Ryan Holiday is my go-to guy. A former marketer turned writer, he singlehandedly brought about a resurgence of Stoicism, an ancient Greek philosophy that can help us live a good life. If you want to know more, check out our list of Stoic quotes, but here are some of my favorite lines from Ryan’s books:

1. “When intelligent people read, they ask themselves a simple question: What do I plan to do with this information?” — Ryan Holiday

2. “The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.” — Ryan Holiday

3. “Impressing people is utterly different from being truly impressive.” — Ryan Holiday

4. “Control your perceptions. Direct your actions properly. Willingly accept what’s outside your control.” — Ryan Holiday

5. “People claim to want to do something that matters, yet they measure themselves against things that don’t, and track their progress not in years but in microseconds. They want to make something timeless, but they focus instead on immediate payoffs and instant gratification.” — Ryan Holiday

6. “By seeing each day and each situation as a kind of training exercise, the stakes suddenly become a lot lower. The way you interpret your own mistakes and the mistakes of others is suddenly a lot more generous.” — Ryan Holiday

7. “Stillness is what aims the archer’s arrow. It inspires new ideas. It sharpens perspective and illuminates connections.” — Ryan Holiday

8. “There is no better definition of a Stoic: to have but not want, to enjoy without needing.” — Ryan Holiday

9. “There is nothing worth doing that is not scary. There is no one who has achieved greatness without wrestling with their own doubts, anxieties, limitations, and demons.” — Ryan Holiday

10. “It doesn’t matter if you’re tired or well-rested. It doesn’t matter if it’s hard or easy. If you’re cold or warm. What counts, whether you’re a kid or a king or anything in between, is that you do the right thing.” — Ryan Holiday

11. “You don’t have to always be amazing. You do always have to show up. What matters is sticking around for the next at bat.” — Ryan Holiday

12. “Winning is not enough. People can get lucky and win. People can be assholes and win. Anyone can win. But not everyone is the best possible version of themselves.” ― Ryan Holiday

13. “There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.” ― Ryan Holiday

14. “We forget: In life, it doesn’t matter what happens to you or where you came from. It matters what you do with what happens and what you’ve been given.” ― Ryan Holiday

15. “Where the head goes, the body follows. Perception precedes action. Right action follows the right perspective.” — Ryan Holiday

16. “The path of least resistance is a terrible teacher.” — Ryan Holiday


16 Short Quotes From Brené Brown

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Brené Brown is the world’s #1 researcher on shame, vulnerability, and courage. Her books have sold millions of copies and encourage thousands of people each day to be their best selves. If you want to live more courageously, be a true team player, and allow yourself to be honest and real, Brené is one of the best sources for inspiration.

Here are 16 of my favorite quotes of hers. For more, go here.

1. “You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” — Brené Brown

2. “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” — Brené Brown

3. “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” — Brené Brown

4. “Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” — Brené Brown

5. “If you want to make a difference, the next time you see someone being cruel to another human being, take it personally. Take it personally because it is personal!” — Brené Brown

6. “Compassion is not a virtue — it is a commitment. It’s not something we have or don’t have — it’s something we choose to practice.” — Brené Brown

7. “When we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” — Brené Brown

8. “The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.” — Brené Brown

9. “Show up for people in pain and don’t look away.” — Brené Brown

10. “Avoidance will make you feel less vulnerable in the short run, but it will never make you less afraid.” — Brené Brown

11. “What we know matters but who we are matters more.” — Brené Brown

12. “Numb the dark and you numb the light.” — Brené Brown

13. “Just because someone isn’t willing or able to love us, it doesn’t mean that we are unlovable.” — Brené Brown

14. “Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.” — Brené Brown

15. “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.” — Brené Brown

16. “At the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of my life, I want to say I contributed more than I criticized.” — Brené Brown


24 Motivational Quotes From J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter

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We can find inspiration well beyond the realm of reality, and personally, little lights my inner fire so strongly as a good novel. While there are countless good fiction titles, Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling might be the most famous book series of the 21st century, and it is packed with heartwarming lines. Whether you’re a diehard Harry Potter fan like me or “merely a muggle,” I’m sure you’ll find at least some of the following quotes inspiring. Especially Dumbledore is a fountain of wisdom that keeps on giving.

Here are 24 short motivational quotes from Harry Potter, some of which have received nearly 100,000 likes on Goodreads:

1. “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” — J.K. Rowling

2. “We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” — J.K. Rowling

3. “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” ― J.K. Rowling

4. “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” ― J.K. Rowling

5. “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” ― J.K. Rowling 

6. “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” ― J.K. Rowling

7. “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” ― J.K. Rowling

8. “It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” ― J.K. Rowling

9. “Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.” ― J.K. Rowling

10. “The truth — it is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.” ― J.K. Rowling

11. “Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.” ― J.K. Rowling

12. “We’re all human, aren’t we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.” ― J.K. Rowling

13. “Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure.” ― J.K. Rowling

14. “We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” ― J.K. Rowling

15. “You do care. You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it.” — J.K. Rowling

16. “It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.” ― J.K. Rowling

17. “Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.” ― J.K. Rowling

18. “Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” ― J.K. Rowling

19. “People find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.” ― J.K. Rowling

20. “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.” ― J.K. Rowling

21. “Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” ― J.K. Rowling

22. “It is my belief… that the truth is generally preferable to lies.” ― J.K. Rowling

23. “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” ― J.K. Rowling

24. “Perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it.” ― J.K. Rowling


12 Motivational Quotes From Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games

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Part dystopian sci-fi fantasy, part dramatic romance, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is another excellent series of books (and accompanying movies) to get inspired by. It is markedly darker than Harry Potter but still full of hope and empowering ideas. When I first picked up these books, I could not put them down.

Here are 12 of my favorite lines from the series to help you keep going when the going gets tough:

1. “You don’t forget the face of the person who was your last hope.” ― Suzanne Collins

2. “I wish I could freeze this moment, right here, right now and live in it forever.” ― Suzanne Collins

3. “I am not pretty. I am not beautiful. I am as radiant as the sun.” ― Suzanne Collins

4. “It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.” ― Suzanne Collins

5. “Destroying things is much easier than making them.” ― Suzanne Collins

6. “What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses.” ― Suzanne Collins

7. “Some walks you have to take alone.” ― Suzanne Collins

8. “Kind people have a way of working their way inside me and rooting there.” ― Suzanne Collins

9. “At some point, you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead. The hard thing is finding the courage to do it.” ― Suzanne Collins

10. “Here’s some advice: Stay alive.” ― Suzanne Collins

11. “While you live, the revolution lives.” ― Suzanne Collins

12. “Aim higher in case you fall short.” ― Suzanne Collins


20 Motivational Quotes From Ancient Stoic Philosophers

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Some of my biggest heroes have long passed away, and that includes the early Stoic philosophers people like Ryan Holiday now write about. It’s always good to get an up to date take on any topic, but if you truly want to understand something, you’ll also have to go back to its source. In the case of early proponents of Stoicism, like Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius, many of their ideas are as powerful today as they were 2,000 years ago. For a primer on Stoicism, see here.

Here are 20 short but thought-provoking quotes from the first Stoics. You can find more here.

1. “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” — Seneca

2. “Men are disturbed not by things but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things.” — Epictetus

3. “You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” — Marcus Aurelius

4. “You could not step twice into the same river.” — Heraclitus

5. “We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we speak.” — Zeno of Citium

6. “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” ― Marcus Aurelius

7. “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” ― Epicurus

8. “Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” — Seneca

9. “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” ― Marcus Aurelius

10. “The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.” ― Marcus Aurelius

11. “We are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it.” — Seneca

12. “Choose not to be harmed, and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed, and you haven’t been.” — Marcus Aurelius

13. “Life is long if you know how to use it.” — Seneca

14. “Receive without pride, let go without attachment.” — Marcus Aurelius

15. “Freedom isn’t secured by filling up on your heart’s desir