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:


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Last Updated on January 1, 2024