The Catcher in the Rye Quotes: The 44 Best & Most Important Quotes From J. D. Salinger’s Masterpiece

The 44 Best Quotes From The Catcher in the Rye Cover

The Catcher in the Rye is a post-World War II coming-of-age story, first published in 1951 by J. D. Salinger. Dealing with important questions of morality, identity, meaning, and connection, the book has become a hallmark read for young adults and grown-ups alike. If you’re looking for the best quotes from this masterpiece, our organized list of The Catcher in the Rye quotes will be just the right place!

Based on the number of most votes on Goodreads, we’ve compiled the top 10 quotes from the book for you below. We’ll also share 34 more of Nik’s favorite highlights from reading the book, an explanation of its most important line, as well as some more information about the book. Finally, we made some pretty cool images with the best quotes for you to share on social media.

Want a summary of the book so you can better understand the quotes and their context? Download our free PDF, print it, and read along. Or save it for later and read it whenever you want!

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You can jump to any section that interests you by using the clickable table of contents below. If you want to share a quote, just highlight it, and sharing options for several social media platforms will appear, including a simple “copy to clipboard” option. Alternatively, you can also use the sharing images we already prepared for you. 

Okay, here we go. Let’s get into the 44 best quotes from The Catcher in the Rye!


The Most Important Quote From The Catcher in the Rye Explained

Before you can understand the most important line from this book, there are two things you need. One is an idea of where it falls in the plot, the other is some context on when, by who, and why the book was written.

As for the latter, author J. D. Salinger fought in the Battle of Normandy in World War II. After he came home, the horrors of war had changed him forever. The period of economic prosperity that ensued felt hollow to him and other survivors. Like teenagers growing up, Salinger felt he had lost his innocence, and he must have grieved that loss greatly. The book became a cathartic experience for him and others, and that’s why it deals with the themes of loss of innocence, reluctance to grow up, being frustrated at the superficiality of the world, and being confused around morality, identity, and relationships.

With regards to the plot, the novel follows narrator and rebellious teenage boy Holden Caulfield’s adventures over a weekend alone in New York City. Despite having wealthy parents and everything he needs, Holden keeps getting expelled from his schools. This time, he decides to paint the town before his parents find out.

After meeting up with old friends and dates, almost losing his virginity to a prostitute, wandering around aimlessly, and spending most of his money, Holden sneaks back into his home. Talking to his little sister Phoebe, the only person he truly likes, envies, and wants to protect — all at the same time — he shares his dream of what he wants to be, a dream that is based on a line from a song, “if a body catch a body comin’ through the rye:”

“I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around — nobody big, I mean — except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff — I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.”

This is Holden desperately trying to hold on to his childhood and ideals — something that Phoebe still has but he is about to lose. At the same time, Phoebe is more mature and realistic than him, and when she tells him that he quoted the line wrong (and that it’s from a poem, not a song), Holden breaks down and cries.

The quote marks the breakthrough point in the story, the moment the hero loses the ground beneath his feet and must re-evaluate everything. For Holden, the bubble of childhood innocence is slowly fading away. Now confronted with the real world, he must admit he barely knows anything, and most of what he thought he knew has turned out to be false.

The question is will Holden be able to hold on to some of his youthful hope and optimism, or will he become a disillusioned, resigned adult, like so many of the people he meets throughout the course of the book? I’ll leave that for you to find out, but that’s my take on the defining quote from this book (which is also where the title comes from, by the way).

The 10 Most Popular Quotes From The Catcher in the Rye

Despite having already sold a staggering 65 million copies, The Catcher in the Rye continues to sell about a million units each year. One of the reasons is that the book is often assigned reading in high schools. Fun fact: It is also one of the most frequently banned books across the United States. 

If you’re wondering what the most popular quotes from this classic of American literature are, here are the ten lines from the book with the highest number of votes on Goodreads. Each of these quotes has received between around 2,000 and 20,000 likes, with the number one quote outpacing number two by a factor of four (21,000+ likes vs. 4,800+). Then, votes slowly go down from there. To share any quote, just highlight and pick your medium of choice:

1. “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.” 

2. “Among other things, you’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You’re by no means alone on that score, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them — if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.”  

3. “I’m quite illiterate, but I read a lot.” 

4. “Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around — nobody big, I mean — except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff — I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.” 

5. “I am always saying ‘Glad to’ve met you’ to somebody I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.” 

6. “I like it when somebody gets excited about something. It’s nice.” 

7. “The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.” 

8. “That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they’re not much to look at, or even if they’re sort of stupid, you fall in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can.” 

9. “Mothers are all slightly insane.” 

10. “It’s funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they’ll do practically anything you want them to.”


My 34 Favorite The Catcher in the Rye Quotes

In 2022, I went to Portugal and visited the oldest bookstore in the world. Naturally, I had to buy some books. Among their English selection, they happened to have The Catcher in the Rye. What a great opportunity to finally read this masterpiece!

I read the entire book on the plane back home, and I made about 80 highlights. I’ll share the 20 most interesting ones below. Out of the top 10 above, I also highlighted eight. I’m not going to include those again. The rest is in order of when the lines appear in the book:

11. “What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of a good-by. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel even worse.”

12. “‘Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules.’ ‘Yes, sir. I know it is. I know it.’ Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it’s a game, all right — I’ll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about it? Nothing. No game.”

13. “I’m pretty sure he yelled ‘Good luck!’ at me. I hope to hell not. I’d never yell ‘Good luck!’ at anybody. It sounds terrible, when you think about it.” 

14. “‘That’s just the trouble with all you morons. You never want to discuss anything. That’s the way you can always tell a moron. They never want to discuss anything intellig—’ Then he really let one go at me, and the next thing I knew I was on the goddam floor again.” 

15. “All I did was, I got up and went over and looked out the window. I felt so lonesome, all of a sudden. I almost wished I was dead.”

16. “People always clap for the wrong things.” 

17. “The thing is, most of the time when you’re coming pretty close to doing it with a girl — a girl that isn’t a prostitute or anything, I mean — she keeps telling you to stop. The trouble with me is, I stop. Most guys don’t. I can’t help it. You never know whether they really want you to stop, or whether they’re just scared as hell, or whether they’re just telling you to stop so that if you do go through with it, the blame’ll be on you, not them. Anyway, I keep stopping.” 

18. “‘So long,’ I said. I didn’t thank her or anything. I’m glad I didn’t.”

19. “I used to think she was quite intelligent, in my stupidity. The reason I did was because she knew quite a lot about the theater and plays and literature and all that stuff. If somebody knows quite a lot about those things, it takes you quite a while to find out whether they’re really stupid or not.”

20. “The thing is, it’s really hard to be roommates with people if your suitcases are much better than theirs — if yours are really good ones and theirs aren’t. You think if they’re intelligent and all, the other person, and have a good sense of humor, that they don’t give a damn whose suitcases are better, but they do. They really do.”

21. “Catholics are always trying to find out if you’re a Catholic. […] He was enjoying the conversation about tennis and all, but you could tell he would’ve enjoyed it more if I was a Catholic and all.” 

22. “The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move. You could go there a hundred thousand times, and that Eskimo would still be just finished catching those two fish, the birds would still be on their way south, the deers would still be drinking out of that water hole, with their pretty antlers and their pretty, skinny legs, and that squaw with the naked bosom would still be weaving that same blanket. Nobody’d be different. The only thing that would be different would be you.” 

23. “Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone.”

24. “If you do something too good, then, after a while, if you don’t watch it, you start showing off. And then you’re not as good any more.” 

25. “I have one of these very loud, stupid laughs. I mean if I ever sat behind myself in a movie or something, I’d probably lean over and tell myself to please shut up.”

26. “Every time you mention some guy that’s strictly a bastard — very mean, or very conceited and all — and when you mention it to the girl, she’ll tell you he has an inferiority complex. Maybe he has, but that still doesn’t keep him from being a bastard, in my opinion.

27. “The trouble with girls is, if they like a boy, no matter how big a bastard he is, they’ll say he has an inferiority complex, and if they don’t like him, no matter how nice a guy he is, or how big an inferiority complex he has, they’ll say he’s conceited. Even smart girls do it.” 

28. “The part that got me was, there was a lady sitting next to me that cried all through the goddam picture. The phonier it got, the more she cried. You’d have thought she did it because she was kindhearted as hell, but I was sitting right next to her, and she wasn’t. She had this little kid with her that was bored as hell and had to go to the bathroom, but she wouldn’t take him. She kept telling him to sit still and behave himself. She was about as kindhearted as a goddam wolf. You take somebody that cries their goddam eyes out over phony stuff in the movies, and nine times out of ten they’re mean bastards at heart.” 

29. “I really think he hated the Army worse than the war.”

30. “That’s the trouble with these intellectual guys. They never want to discuss anything serious unless they feel like it.” 

31. “The thing he was afraid of, he was afraid somebody’d say something smarter than he had.” 

32. “He said he would, but he probably didn’t even give her my message. People never give your message to anybody.”

33. “‘Hey. You gonna see that Valencia babe when you go back in the bar?’ I asked him. ‘It’s highly probable,’ he said. Witty bastard. All I ever meet is witty bastards.”

34. “Boy, when you’re dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.”

35. “PHOEBE WEATHERFIELD CAULFIELD, 4B-1. That killed me. Her middle name is Josephine, for God’s sake, not Weatherfield. She doesn’t like it, though. Every time I see her she’s got a new middle name for herself.” 

36. “Just because somebody’s dead, you don’t just stop liking them, for God’s sake.” 

37. “I figured if they caught me, they caught me. I almost wished they did, in a way.”

38. “But what I mean is, lots of time you don’t know what interests you most till you start talking about something that doesn’t interest you most. I mean you can’t help it sometimes. What I think is, you’re supposed to leave somebody alone if he’s at least being interesting and he’s getting all excited about something.” 

39. “‘I don’t want to scare you,’ he said, ‘but I can very clearly see you dying nobly, one way or another, for some highly unworthy cause.’”

40. “‘I think that one of these days,’ he said, ‘you’re going to have to find out where you want to go. And then you’ve got to start going there. But immediately. You can’t afford to lose a minute. Not you.’”

41. “‘Something else an academic education will do for you. If you go along with it any considerable distance, it’ll begin to give you an idea what size mind you have. What it’ll fit and, maybe, what it won’t. After a while, you’ll have an idea what kind of thoughts your particular size mind should be wearing. For one thing, it may save you an extraordinary amount of time trying on ideas that don’t suit you, aren’t becoming to you. You’ll begin to know your true measurements and dress your mind accordingly.’” 

42. “Every time I came to the end of a block and stepped off the goddam curb, I had this feeling that I’d never get to the other side of the street.” 

43. “I was the only one left in the tomb then. I sort of liked it, in a way. It was so nice and peaceful. Then, all of a sudden, you’d never guess what I saw on the wall. Another ‘Fuck you.’ It was written with a red crayon or something, right under the glass part of the wall, under the stones. That’s the whole trouble. You can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you’re not looking, somebody’ll sneak up and write ‘Fuck you’ right under your nose.”

44. “The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off they fall off, but it’s bad if you say anything to them.”

The book definitely has a depressing feel to it, but there are lots of silver linings as well, as you can tell from these lines. Despite being immature and feeling lost, Holden makes a lot of strong points throughout the novel. All in all, he’s an endearing hero giving us a glimpse at our own psyche, and that makes this book worth reading.


More The Catcher in the Rye Quotes

The single-best way to get more good lines from The Catcher in the Rye is to read the book. Therefore, here’s a quick overview and some buttons you can use to read our summary or buy yourself a copy on Amazon (affiliate link).

The Catcher in the Rye Quotes Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.” — J. D. Salinger

The Book in One Sentence

The Catcher in the Rye* describes the adventures of well-off teenage boy Holden Caulfield on a weekend out alone in New York City, illuminating the struggles of young adults with existential questions of morality, identity, meaning, and connection.

Why should you read it?

If you’re a teenager or the parent of one, this book will help you understand better how you (or your child) thinks. It asks plenty of tough questions, and not just for young adults. If you feel lonely, anxious, uncertain, disconnected, or disillusioned, this classic will provide some comfort but also a hard reality check. If you want to become more self-aware, this is a good read.

Key Takeaways

  1. The only way to find meaning in life is to care about something and work for it.
  2. If you don’t take risks, you’ll form an identity, let alone become who you want to be.
  3. Life is not that complicated if you choose to find joy in the little things.

If you want to learn more, you can click below or get a copy for yourself.

_____


The Catcher in the Rye Quotes for Sharing on Social Media

If you want to post any of the above quotes to social media, you can do so with our “highlight and share” feature. That said, we 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.

We even created some AI art for the backgrounds so that each image fits the lost, longing feeling you get while reading the book. Simply hover over an image with your cursor or tap on it for some sharing options to appear. Happy sharing! 

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Conclusion

That’s a wrap on our list of the 44 best and most important quotes from The Catcher in the Rye. What do you think? Did we pick some good ones? Is your personal favorite missing? Feel free to share your own top highlights with us on Twitter!


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 Best & Most Popular Yoda Quotes

The 30 Best & Most Popular Yoda Quotes Cover

Yoda is one of the strongest, most inspiring, and most beloved characters in Star Wars. He first appeared in the 1980 sequel to the original movie (Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back) and instantly became a fan favorite. If you’re looking for the best Yoda quotes, you’ve come to the right place! As he said when first encountering Luke Skywalker: “Looking? Found someone you have, eh?”

In this organized list, we’ve compiled the most popular Yoda quotes for you, based on how often we see them online and in pop culture. While there’s a clear #1, there’s no exact data on the others, but in general, our top 10 should hold up pretty well.

 

We’ve also included Nik’s 20 favorite additional quotes, a little of Yoda’s backstory, and some guidance on why studying his quotes is worthwhile. Finally, we used an AI art generator to create some cool images for you to share your favorite Yoda quotes on social media.

You can easily navigate this list by jumping to any section that interests you using the table of contents below. If you want to share a quote, simply highlight the text, and sharing options for all major social media platforms will appear. Alternatively, you can also use the images we created for you in the last section of this list.

Ready to learn you are, I hope. Here goes our list of the best quotes from Master Yoda!


Who Is Yoda?

Since his debut, Yoda has been featured in countless movies, comics, spinoffs, and other aspects of the Star Wars franchise, itself one of the most popular stories in history.

Yoda is a tiny green creature of unknown origin. Despite his somewhat reptilian features, he has a human-like form, resembling a cross between a goblin, human, tortoise, and elf (his ears are pointy). Yoda is over 800 years old when we first meet him. As such, he has been the Grand Master of the Jedi Order—a cult of warrior-monks protecting the galaxy—for a long time.

In Star Wars, Yoda is the best of the good guys. His ability to wield “the Force”—the invisible “life power” the Jedi direct and rely on in their quests—is unparalleled. He’s also an excellent fighter with a lightsaber, the Jedi’s weapon of choice. Finally, Yoda teaches all younglings, young children with Jedi powers, before they transition into 1-on-1 student-master relationships to complete their training.

Throughout the Star Wars movie, he takes more of an advisor role, but we do get to see him fight a good bit as well. One of few survivors of “Order 66,” a mass killing order against all Jedi that led to the rise of the dark Galactic Empire, Yoda first goes into exile to contemplate on his failure to foresee this coup. He later returns to train Luke Skywalker and do his part in restoring the good Republic. When Yoda dies at 900 years old, he becomes part of the Force and thus can still appear to other Jedi in ghost-form.


What Can We Gain From Studying Yoda’s Quotes?

While watching Yoda fight is pretty cool, his biggest strength lies in his wisdom. He is known for talking in a jumbled style and offering riddles more so than straight-up advice, but every single one of his words is carefully chosen and hits hard.

In a way, Yoda is the original self-help guru. He’s the first person everyone turns to when they need advice. The best thing Yoda can offer is perspective shifts. His quotes often flip common notions upside down, showing us we’ve been focused on the wrong aspect of a situation. This is incredibly powerful.

A perspective shift takes your thinking to a higher level. Instead of simply attacking an obstacle with force (pun intended), you might find a way over it, under it, or around it. You may even realize what you thought was a problem isn’t an issue at all or that you can safely ignore it and still stay on the right path. 

If you’re looking for a more in-depth tutorial on how to master this skill of changing your perspective right when you need it the most, I’ve written a longer piece structuring Yoda’s quotes into a coherent narrative. Otherwise, read on and enjoy Yoda’s wisdom!


The 10 Most Popular Quotes From Yoda

If you do a Google Trends analysis, you’ll see that “there is no try” ranks far above other Yoda quotes in search volume. It also outpaces the general search for Yoda quotes, suggesting people are even more likely to remember that one line than who it came from. Therefore, this quote takes the #1 spot.

We did some further analysis, and, based on search interest relative to one another, these are Yoda’s 10 greatest hits:

1. “No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.” 

2. “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” 

3. “Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you. Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock—everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.” 

4. “Patience you must have, my young Padawan.” 

5. “I don’t believe it!” “That is why you fail.” 

6. “Great warrior. Hmm. Wars not make one great.”  

7. “You must unlearn what you have learned.”

8. “A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.” 

9. “Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery, hmm… but weakness, folly, failure, also. Yes, failure, most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is.”

10. “Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.” 


My 20 Favorite Yoda Quotes

I have watched every Star Wars movie and most of its related TV shows, many of them twice. I’ve seen Yoda’s scenes many times. Here are the lines from him that most stand out to me and that I go back to time and again:

11. “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”

12. “Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.”

13. “If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are, a different game you should play.”

14. “Named must your fear be, before banish it you can.”

15. “Yes, [I am] afraid. Hmm, surprised are you? A challenge lifelong it is, not to bend fear into anger.”

16. “When you look at the dark side, careful you must be. For the dark side looks back.”

17. “Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. Consume you, it will.”

18. “The boy you trained, gone he is. Consumed by Darth Vader.”

19. “What’s in [that cave]?” “Only what you take with you.”

20. “A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was.”

21. “Secret, shall I tell you? Grand Master of Jedi Order am I. Won this job in a raffle I did, think you? ‘How did you know, how did you know, Master Yoda?’ Master Yoda knows these things. His job it is.”

22. “No longer certain, that one ever does win a war, I am. For in fighting the battles, the bloodshed, already lost we have.”

23. “Smaller in number are we, but larger in mind.”

24. “Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.”

25. “Looking? Found someone you have, eh?”

26. “Your path you must decide.”

27. “A Jedi’s strength flows from the Force.”

28. “Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things.” 

29. “To be Jedi is to face the truth, and choose. Give off light, or darkness, Padawan. Be a candle, or the night.”

30. “We are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.”

Perhaps you can tell, but Yoda’s wisdom is clearly inspired by Eastern philosophies, like Buddhism and Zen. He reminds me of a Kung Fu master, like Bruce Lee, who mainly uses rigorous physical practice as a way to master the mind and spirit.

From Yoda’s point of view, most problems originate from fear. It’s the #1 thing he warns other Jedi of. “Don’t let fear get the better of you. Once you do, it can transform into all kinds of emotions that’ll drive you to do bad things.” That’s the gist of his message.

Yoda is also big on acceptance, another common theme in Eastern philosophy. Instead of trying to turn reality into some desired future, we should accept it as it is and work with what we’ve got.


The Best Yoda Quotes for Sharing on Social Media

If you want to post any of the above quotes to social media, you can do so with our “highlight and share” feature. That said, we 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.

We even created some custom Yoda AI art so that the Force will always be with you. Happy sharing!

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Conclusion

That concludes our list of the 30 best and most important quotes from Yoda. What do you think? Did we pick some good ones? Which ones are we missing? Feel free to share your favorite with us on Twitter!

May the Force be with you!


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:


1984 Quotes: The 30 Best & Most Important Lines From George Orwell’s Masterpiece

1984 Quotes Cover

1984 is a dystopian science-fiction novel set in the year of its name, originally published in 1949 by George Orwell. Praised for its strong characters, rethinking of societal structures, and prophetic vision, the book has become a literary classic that is analyzed in thousands of classrooms around the world each year. If you’re looking for the best 1984 quotes, our organized list should be just the right place.

Below, we’ve compiled the most popular 1984 quotes for you, based on the number of votes on Goodreads. We’ve also included Nik’s personal highlights from reading the book cover to cover and several cool images for sharing the top quotes on social media.

Want a summary of the book so you can better understand the quotes and their context? Download our free PDF, print it, and read along. Or save it for later and read it whenever you want!

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You can easily navigate this list by jumping to any section that interests you using the table of contents below. If you want to share a quote, just highlight it, and sharing options for all major social media platforms will appear. Alternatively, you can also use the premade images we created for you in the last section of this list.

Alright, let’s get to it!


The 10 Most Popular Quotes From 1984

If you’re wondering what the most popular 1984 quotes are, here are the ten lines from the book with the highest number of votes on Goodreads, ranging from 15,000+ to 2,200+ votes.

1. “Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.” 

2. “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”  

3. “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” 

4. “The best books… are those that tell you what you know already.” 

5. “If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.” 

6. “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” 

7. “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.” 

8. “We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.” 

9. “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” 

10. “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”


My 20 Favorite 1984 Quotes

I recently read 1984 in its entirety for the first time. Here are the lines I highlighted in the book and found most noteworthy, in order of when they appear in the book:

11. “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”  

12. “It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another.”

13. “It struck him as curious that you could create dead men but not living ones.” 

14. “Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one.” 

15. “But if there was hope, it lay in the proles. You had to cling on to that. When you put it in words it sounded reasonable: it was when you looked at the human beings passing you on the pavement that it became an act of faith.”

16. “If you kept the small rules you could break the big ones.”

17. “When you make love you’re using up energy; and afterwards you feel happy and don’t give a damn for anything. They can’t bear you to feel like that. They want you to be bursting with energy all the time. All this marching up and down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour. If you’re happy inside yourself, why should you get excited about Big Brother and the Three-Year Plans and the Two Minutes Hate and all the rest of their bloody rot?” 

18. “To hang on from day to day and from week to week, spinning out a present that had no future, seemed an unconquerable instinct, just as one’s lungs will always draw the next breath so long as there is air available.” 

19. “Talking to her, he realized how easy it was to present an appearance of orthodoxy while having no grasp whatever of what orthodoxy meant. In a way, the world-view of the Party imposed itself most successfully on people incapable of understanding it. They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane. They simply swallowed everything, and what they swallowed did them no harm, because it left no residue behind, just as a grain of corn will pass undigested through the body of a bird.”

20. “The best books, he perceived, are those that tell you what you know already.”

21. “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

22. “There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.” 

23. “Sanity is not statistical.” 

24. “Where there is equality, there can be sanity.” 

25. “Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”

26. “What can you do, thought Winston, against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?” 

27. “Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — for ever… And remember that it is for ever. The face will always be there to be stamped upon.”

28. “Merely to be alone, not to be beaten or questioned, to have enough to eat, and to be clean all over, was completely satisfying.”

29. “‘If he THINKS he floats off the floor, and if I simultaneously THINK I see him do it, then the thing happens. … It doesn’t really happen. We imagine it. It is hallucination.’ … What knowledge have we of anything, save through our own minds? All happenings are in the mind. Whatever happens in all minds, truly happens.” 

30. “To die hating them, that was freedom.” 

As you might notice, five quotes overlap with the top 10 most popular quotes, showing those are indeed lines that seem to jump out to many people, including me.

Then again, I find some of the often-shared quotes lack context and power when taken out of their surrounding paragraphs. In this case, the “boot stamping on a human face” line felt a lot stronger when followed up with “And remember that it is for ever. The face will always be there to be stamped upon.”

Finally, a fun fact on the side: I also recently read Origin by Dan Brown, and in that book, there’s an AI guiding Robert Langdon, the protagonist. The name of the AI is Winston, just like the name of the protagonist in 1984. Coincidence? I think not. After all, Big Brother is always watching. 😉


More 1984 Quotes

The single-best way to get more original quotes from 1984 is to, well, read the book! Here’s a quick overview of the book, as well as some buttons to read our summary or buy yourself a copy on Amazon (affiliate link).

1984 Quotes Book Cover

Favorite Quote

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” — George Orwell

The Book in One Sentence

1984* is the story of a young man questioning the system that keeps his futuristic but dystopian society afloat, and the chaos that quickly ensues once he gives in to his natural curiosity and desire to be free.

Why should you read it?

If you enjoy books in a dystopian setting that challenge our structure of society, then you’ll be an instant fan of Orwell’s. This classic is a good reminder of what can happen when governments go too far. If you’re worried about freedom and sovereignty, this is a great book for you.

Key Takeaways

  1. The most powerful way to either control or empower humans is language.
  2. Freedom is the ability to say what’s true, to say what you think, and to make your own choices.
  3. Totalitarian governments succeed when they turn off our individuality via gaslighting.

If you want to learn more, you can click below or get a copy for yourself.

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1984 Quotes for Sharing on Social Media

If you want to post any of the above quotes to social media, you can do so with our “highlight and share” feature. That said, we 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.

We even created some AI art for the backgrounds so that each image fits the dystopian vibe of the book. Happy sharing! 

Share on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

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Share on Pinterest

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Conclusion

That concludes our list of the 30 best and most important quotes from 1984. What do you think? Did we pick some good ones? Which ones are we missing? Feel free to share your favorite with us on Twitter!


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: