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Words to Remember: 101 Quotes

They are old and new, familiar and obscure,
humorous and pompous, ironic
and maybe even a little profound.

Birth and Youth
Death and Dying
People - All Kinds of
Real Personal


  1. We are born naked, wet and hungry. Then things get worse.



  2. Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone [Keynes].



  3. Don't take life too seriously; you won't get out of it alive [Elbert Hubbard].

  4. Is there life before death? [Belfast Graffito]

  5. The first condition of immortality is death [Stanislaw Lec]

  6. Death is life's way of telling you you've been fired [R. Geis].

  7. Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.

  8. The greatest use of a life is to spend it on something that will outlast it [William James].

  9. I don't want to be immortal through my work. I want to be immortal through not dying [Woody Allen].

  10. Eat right, exercise regularly, die anyway.

  11. Do not regret growing old; many are denied the privilege.

  12. Ros: Do you think death could possibly be a boat?
    Guil: No, no, no.... Death is...not. Death isn't. You take my meaning. Death is the ultimate negative. Not-being. You can't not-be on a boat.
    Ros: I've frequently not been on boats.
    Guil: No, no, no -- what you've been is not on boats
    [Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead].

  13. Too many pieces of music finish too long after the end [Igor Stravinsky,1882-1971].

  14. Once a man loses his sense of immortality, he never regains it [Trevanian, The Main].



  15. It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education [Albert Einstein].

  16. I find television very educating. The minute somebody turns it on, I go into the library and read a book [Groucho Marx, 1890-1977].



  17. Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves [Henry David Thoreau].

  18. The law will never make men free; it is men who have got to make the law free [Henry David Thoreau].

  19. You must believe in free-will; there is no choice [Isaac Singer].

  20. You only have power over people so long as you don't take everything away from them. But when you've robbed a man of everything, he's no longer in your power - he's free again [A. Solzhenitsyn].



  21. Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read [Groucho Marx, 1890-1977].



  22. In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up [Martin Niemöller, German Lutheran Pastor].



  23. Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.



  24. Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history [George Bernard Shaw]



  25. Jealousy isn't a pleasant quality, but if it isn't overdone (and if it's combined with modesty), apart from its inconvenience there's even something touching about it [Milan Kundera, Laughable Loves]



  26. Every man is dishonest who lives upon the labor of others, no matter if he occupies a throne [Robert Green Ingersoll].

  27. Who first invented work? [Charles Lambs, letter to Barton, 1822]

  28. I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours [Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat]



  29. What's laughable is how terribly little there is to laugh at with any joy [Philip Roth]



  30. How noble the law, in its majestic equality, that both the rich and poor are equally prohibited from peeing in the streets, sleeping under bridges, and stealing bread! [Anatole France].



  31. Life is what happens to you while you are planning to do something else.

  32. Often it is fatal to live too long [Racine].

  33. Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards [Soren Kierkegaard].

  34. The best use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts life [William James].

  35. Life is a dead-end street [H. L. Mencken].

  36. Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry [Mark Twain].



  37. Love may be the answer, but what's the question? [Albert Benschop].

  38. Love is the answer, but while you are waiting for the answer sex raises some pretty good questions [Woody Allen]

  39. Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence [H. L. Mencken].

  40. He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals [Benjamin Franklin].

  41. Too much love will kill you if you can't make up your mind, torn between the lover and the love you leave behind [Freddy Mercury, Made in Heaven]

  42. The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved - loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves [Victor Hugo].

  43. Love may not make the world go round, but I must admit that it makes the ride worthwhile [Sean Connery]



  44. Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined [Samuel Goldwyn].



  45. Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same [Oscar Wilde].

  46. I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury [Groucho Marx].

  47. Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who would want to live in an institution [H.L. Mencken, 1880-1956].



  48. There are three kinds of people: those who can count, and those who can't.

  49. People have one thing in common: they are all different.

  50. There are two types of people in this world, good and bad. The good sleep better, but the bad seem to enjoy the waking hours much more [Woody Allen].



  51. No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man [Heraclitas].

  52. Confucius say too much [Recent Chinese proverb].



  53. Anarchy is better than no government at all.

  54. Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself [Mark Twain].

  55. We've got the best government money can buy.



  56. I put a generall inclination of all mankind a perpetuall and restless desire of Power after Power, that ceaseth onely in Death [Thomas Hobbes].



  57. Always remember you're unique - just like everyone else.

  58. Don't hate yourself in the morning -- sleep till noon.

  59. When I was young I observed that nine out of every ten things I did were failures, so I did ten times more work [George Bernard Shaw].

  60. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages [Adam Smith].

  61. I used to be indecisive, now I'm not sure.

  62. I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants [A. Whitney Brown].

  63. Truth hurts. Maybe not as much as jumping on a bicycle with a seat missing, but it hurts [Drebin, Naked Gun 2 1/2].

  64. The end of the day is near when small men make long shadows [Confucius].

  65. It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others [John Andrew Holmes].

  66. I can resist anything but temptation [Oscar Wilde].



  67. All religions are founded on the fear of the many and the cleverness of the few [Stendhal].

  68. Jesus died too soon. If he had lived to my age he would have repudiated his doctrine [Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, 1844-1900].



  69. Science is to see what everyone else has seen but think what no one else has thought [Albert Szent-Gyorgyi].

  70. Science tries to tell us interesting and constructive stories that might be useful for something [Rich Ulrich].

  71. You can observe a lot just by watchin' [Yogi Berra].

  72. Quoting one is plagiarism. Quoting many is research.

  73. Half of the people in the world are below average.

  74. If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulder of giants [Isaac Newton].

  75. Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof [Ashley Montague].

  76. In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; In practice, however, there is.

  77. Gravitation can not be held responsible for people falling in love [Albert Einstein, 1879-1955].

  78. Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity [Albert Einstein].

  79. Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler [Albert Einstein].



  80. The only unnatural sexual act is the one that which you cannot perform [Dr. Alfred Charles Kinsey]

  81. Why should we take advice on sex from the Pope. If he knows anything, he shouldn't [George Bernard Shaw].

  82. Sex is. There is nothing more to be done about it. Sex builds no roads, writes no novels and sex certainly gives no meaning to anything in life but itself [Gore Vidal, b. 1925].

  83. When authorities warn you of the sinfulness of sex, there is an important lesson to be learned. Do not have sex with the authorities [Matt Groening - "Basic Sex Facts For Today's Youngfolk"].

  84. Pizza is a lot like sex. When it's good, it's really good. When it's bad, it's still pretty good.

  85. Masturbation, don't knock it, it's sex with someone I love [Woody Allen].

  86. Sex without love is an empty experience, but, as empty experiences go, it's one of the best [Woody Allen].

  87. Sex between a man and a woman can be wonderful, provided you get between the right man and the right woman [Woody Allen]



  88. Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?

  89. Brain: an apparatus with which we think we think [Ambrose Bierce].

  90. Minds are like parachutes - they only function when open.



  91. Wasting time is an important part of life.

  92. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana [Groucho Marx].

  93. Time is the best teacher. Unfortunately, it kills all its pupils [Hector-Louis Berlioz].



  94. When large numbers of men are unable to find work, unemployment results [Calvin Coolidge].



  95. Behind every great fortune there is a crime [Honore de Balzac, 1799-1850].

  96. I used to think I was poor. Then they told me I wasn't poor, I was needy. Then they told me it was self-defeating to think of myself as needy. I was deprived. (Oh not deprived but rather underprivileged.) Then they told me that underprivileged was overused. I was disadvantaged. I still don't have a dime. But, I have a great vocabulary [Jules Feiffer, cartoonist].



  97. A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle [Gloria Steinem].

  98. Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot [Groucho Marx].



  99. Why is there no other word for "synonym"?

  100. Why is "abbreviation" such a long word?

  101. The only interesting answers are those which destroy the questions [Susan Sontag].


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Albert Benschop
University of Amsterdam