This list contains the funniest and most profound thoughts from the greatest personalities of all time. While many were borrowed from from Peggy Anderson's book, Great Quotes from Great Leaders, many more have been collected from a great number of different sources. Several of them are popular sound-bites and cliche's today. It's interesting to know where they originated. Also, many quotes from contemporary leaders are really paraphrasings of older quotes.



David Mamet (1947-? Famous American playwright and director.)

Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance.


Mae West (1930s movie star famous for her double entendres and pushing the limits of censorship.)

I believe in censorship... I made a fortune out of it.

When I'm good, I'm very good. When I'm bad I'm better.

Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.

When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I haven't tried before.

She's the kind of girl who climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong.

It's not the men in my life that count, it's the life in my men.

When women go wrong, men go right after them.

Ten men waiting for me at the door? Send one home... I'm tired.


Albert Einstein (Physicist, 1879 - 1955)

The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.

The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.

Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it.

Scott Adams (Cartoonist - paraphrased from a comment made in his April 11, 2010 Dilbert cartoon strip)

The greatest injustice is using the law to keep justice at bay.


General Douglas MacArthur ( American General, 1880 - 1964)

Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword never encountered automatic weapons.


Eugene McCarthy (American politician, 1916 - 2005):

The only thing that saves us from bureaucracy is its inefficiency.


Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), in response to a newspaper article in which he had been mistakenly reported to have died. In fact it was a relative of his. Many subtle variations of this quote are attributed to him. Some were the result of paraphrasing by publishers, others by Mr. Clemens himself. Over the years several famous actors have used this quote when their deaths have been erroneously supposed. I believe the most famous may have been when Clayton Moore, the TV Lone Ranger, sent it in a telegram to Johnny Carson after Mr. Carson mentioned on his late night show that he thought Mr. Moore had passed away.


Oscar Wilde (British playwrite, 1854-1900):

A man can't be too careful in his choice of enemies.

Youth is wasted on the young. (Some sources credit this to George Bernard Shaw).

Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.

Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable we have to alter it every six months.

I can resiste everything but temptation.

Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.

The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.


Thomas Edison (Considered that greatest inventor of all time, 1846 - 1931):

I haven't failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.


Ludwig Feuerbach: (1804-1872; German philosopher, theologian and author.)

Man created God in his own image.


Charles De Gaulle (French general and statesman, 1890 - 1979):

The graveyards are full of indispensable men.


Children today are tyrants. They contradict thier parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.

Socrates (Greek [Athenian] philosopher, 470-399 B.C.)


Come quickly! I am tasting stars!

Dom Perignon (French benadictine monk, 1638-1715) at the moment of his discovering champagne.


Winston Churchill (British politician, 1874-1965):

He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.

An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.


George Carlin (Popular American stand-up comedian, social critic, actor, and author, 1937 - 2008):

Some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty. I see a glass that's twice as big as it needs to be.


The popular, but short-lived, Maverick television series of the early sixties often had Bret Maverick (James Garner) quoting pieces of sage advice from his "Old Pappy." The best of these was:

"If you don't git while the gittin's good, you're gunna get got."


Lazarus Long (Longest lived human science fiction character, 1912 - ? {ranges from 2125 to 4000}, (From the author Robert Heinlein):

Never appeal to a man's better nature - he might not have one. Invoking his self interest gives you more leverage.

Delusions are often functional. A mother's opinions about her children's beauty, goodness, et cetera ad nauseam, keeps her from drowning them at birth.

A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits.

An elephant: A mouse built to government specifications.

A committee is a life form with six or more legs and no brain.

"I came, I saw, SHE conquered." (The original Latin seems to have been garbled.)

A skunk is better company than a person who prides himself on being "frank."

Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors - and miss.


Will Rogers (American cowboy, comedian, humorist, social commentator, vaudeville performer and actor and one of the best-known celebrities in the 1920s and 1930s, 1879 - 1935):

(The genius of his quotes are that they need to be read twice: the first time for their humor, a second to pick out the practical advice hidden behind the joke.)

Don't squat with your spurs on.

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier'n puttin' it back in.

If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there.

If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.

After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut.

There's two theories to arguin' with a woman. Neither one works.

When you give a lesson in meanness to a critter or a person, don't be surprised if they learn their lesson.

The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.

Never miss a good chance to shut up.


And finally, a few of my own humble offerings:

Wayne M. Schmidt: (Engineer, webmaster, 1951-?)

Humanity's behavior suggests intelligence is an evolutionary dead end.

A little abuse keeps the joints loose.

When debating which is superior, dogs or cats, I believe their behavior suggests the following: Man domesticated dogs - cats domesticated man.

Greed has a short memory.

The inspiration for this quote came in 2015 as mortgage lenders and the government started making it easier for people to buy houses, the same policies that lead to the catastophic 2007 housing collapse.

People don't own money any more... we just rent it from Walmart.

It's not unreasonable to expect people to act with consideration for others, but sadly, it is unrealistic.

An unfortunate side effect of human compassion is that it's enabled fools to propagate.

Humanity diminishes itself every time it allows greatness to be forgotten simply because it's gone out of style. NEW!!!

The danger in thinking that one is special is that it evokes a sense of entitlement, which quickly leads to conceit, arrogance and contempt of others. NEW!!!

The Fates are psychic. That's how they know when to kick us when we're down. NEW!!!

Human knowledge is only exceeded by human ignorance, human strength is only exceeded by its weakness, human wisdom only by its folly and humility by its arrogance. NEW!!!

Dogs, horses and husbands sometimes require a firm voice. NEW!!!

You can only do the best you can do when you're doing it. NEW!!!





NEW!!! Horace Mann (American politician and educator, Prime advocate of universal, free education 1796-1859)

Be ashamed to die until you have won some great victory for humanity.

This quote resonates for me because I believe we all owe a debt to those who came before us and contributed to the world we enjoy. The only way to repay this debt is to pay it forward by giving back to society.


Friedrich Nietzche (German philosopher, 1844 - 1900)

That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger.


Horace (Roman poet, 65 - 8 BC):

Carpe Diem (Seize the day. (Opportunity))


Martin Luther King, Jr (American clergyman and political activist, 1929 - 1968):

If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause and say, "Here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well."


George S. Patton, Jr. (American general during WW II, 1885 - 1945):

Always do more than is required of you.


Booker T. Washington (African-American educator, author, orator and political leader, 1856 - 1915):

I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which one has overcome while trying to succeed.

You can't hold a man down without staying down with him.


Howard Ruff (Financial advisor and writer, 1931 - ?):

It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.


Teddy Roosevelt (American president, 1858 - 1919):

Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.

The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.

No man is justified in doing evil on the grounds of expediency.


John Wooden (Enormously successful American basketball coach, 1910 - 2010):

Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.


Henry Ford (Founder of Ford Motor Co., 1863 - 1947):

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.

Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.


John F. Kennedy (35th President of the US, 1917 - 1963):

The time to repair a roof is when the sun is shining.


Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979-1990, Sometimes referred to as an iron fist in a silk glove, 1925 - 2013):

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.


Aristotle (Greek philosopher, student of Plato, teacher to Alexander the Great, 384 - 322 BC:

We should behave to our friends as we would wish our friends to behave to us. (This was later paraphrased in Christian culture as the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.")

Well begun is half done.


Franklin D. Roosevelt (32nd US President, held office during World War II, 1882 - 1945):

When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.


Benjamin Franklin (Influencial Founding Father of the United States, leading author, printer, satirist, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat, 1706 - 1790):

There are no gains without pains.


Thomas Jefferson (Third American president, horticulturist, political leader, architect, archaeologist, paleontologist, musician, inventor, considered my many as one of the most influencial of the Amercian founding fathers and one of the great minds of all time, 1743 - 1826):

A mind always employed is always happy.

Never trouble another for what you can do for yourself.

Whenever you do a thing, though it can never be known but to yourself, ask yourself how you would act were all the world looking at you, and act accordingly.


Albert Schweitzer (Franco-German (Alsatian) theologian, organist, philosopher, and physician, African missionary, 1875 - 1965):

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.


Vince Lombardi (Influencial American football coach, most famously for the Green Bay Packers, 1913 - 1970):

The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.

It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up.

The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.


Abraham Lincoln (American president during the American civil war, 1809 - 1865):

No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar.

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other thing.

You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.


Norman Vincent Peale (American Protestant preacher and writer, 1898 - 1993):

Believe that you are defeated, believe it long enough, and it is likely to become a fact.

We tend to get what we expect.


Ray Kroc (Businessman famous for making McDonald's so successful, 1902 - 1984):

The quality of an individual is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.


Albert Signorella DDS., or Franklin P. Jones (among possible others - I couldn't find a definitive source for this one, only suggested sources):

You are what you eat.




John F. Kennedy (35th President of the US, 1917 - 1963):

Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.


Howard Hawks (Famous 1940s and 1950s movie director.)

A good movie has three good scenes and no bad scenes.


Fortune favors the prepared.

Edna Mode (Character in the Disney movie The Incredibles.) This is a paraphrase of Louis Pasteur's quote: "Chance favors the prepared mind." This quote has many variations that have been used for over half a century.


Napolean Bonaparte (Military and politial leader of France and for a time ruler of much of Europe, 1769 - 1821):

Never interrupt your enemy when he's making a mistake.


Stewart's Law of Retroaction from Murphy's Law, Book Two:

It is easier to get forgiveness than permission.


David T. Wolf (1943 - ?):

Idealism is what precedes experience.

This is the more popular truncated form of the original quote that was: Idealism is what precedes experience, cynicism is what follows.


Ernest Hemmingway (Writer, 1889-1961):

Never mistake motion for action. (This concept was pushed hard while I was an officer in the USAF, where the version used was "Being busy isn't the same as accomplishing something.")

Winston Churchill (British politician, 1874-1965):

The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.


Thomas Jefferson (Third American president, horticulturist, political leader, architect, archaeologist, paleontologist, musician, inventor, considered my many as one of the most influencial of the Amercian founding fathers and one of the great minds of all time, 1743 - 1826):

The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.

He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it easier to do it a second time.


Andrew Carnegie (Formed Carnegie Steel that went on to merge with other steel companies to form US Steel, Scottish-American industrialist, businessman, entrepreneur and a major philanthropist, 1835 - 1919):

As I grow older I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.

There is no use whatsoever trying to help people who do not help themselves. You cannot push anyone up a ladder unless he is willing to climb himself.


Benjamin Franklin (Influencial Founding Father of the United States, leading author, printer, satirist, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat, 1706 - 1790):

Love your neighbor - but don't pull down your hedge.

The best way to see Faith is to shut the eye of Reason.


Confucius (Chinese philosopher, 551 - 479 BC):

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

When prosperity comes, do not use all of it.


George Washington (Dominant military and political leader in the formation of the United States of America, First American President, 1732 - 1799):

Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.

To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.


Dwight D. Eisenhower (Five-star general in the United States Army, top military leader during WW II and the 34th President of the United States, 1890 - 1969):

Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the corn field.


NEW!!! Henry David Thoreau (American poet, philosopher and naturalist, 1817 - 1862)

It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?


Lazarus Long (Longest lived human science fiction character, 1912 - ? {ranges from 2125 to 4000}, (From the author Robert Heinlein):

Natural laws have no pity.

Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why. Then go do it.

Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes.

Animals can be driven crazy by placing too many in too small a pen. Homo Sapiens is the only animal that voluntarily does this to himself.

Formal courtesy between husband and wife is even more important than it is between strangers.

Place your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark.

In handling a stinging insect, move slowly.

Anything free is worth what you pay for it.

Rub her feet.

Everybody lies about sex.

When the need arises - and it does - you must be able to shoot your own dog.

Don't try to have the last word. You might get it.

Avoid making irrevocable decisions while tired or hungry.

Do not handicap your children by making their lives too easy.


Wayne M. Schmidt (1951-?):

The tragedy of human discourse is that words can cause greater injury than words can heal.

The price for having rights is the responisibility of exercising them with consideration for others.

Desire is never tempered by practicality.

One of humanity's great tragedies is that in its desperate need to prove itself unique, every new generation shuns 95-percent of what the previous generation produced. Countless great movies, books and songs have been lost for all time because of this.




Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873, British novelist, poet, playwright and polititian.)

The pen is mightier than the sword.


Jesus Christ (The Bible, Matthew 26:52)

He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword. (The exact wording varies with the translation referenced.)


The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

This is one of those ancient proverbs that's been around so long no one knows for certain who said it first. The earliest close account I could find was the French abbot Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153 AD) who said, "Hell is full of good wishes and desires." By 1670 this had evolved into "Hell is paved with good intentions" by John Ray (or Wray), an English naturalist (1627-1705.)

There are two interpretations of the proverb. The first is that having an intention without acting on it leads to ruin. The second is that when attempting to do something good, many times bad things result unexpectedly. This second interpretation is more commonly popularized by the quote "No good deed shall go unpunished," usually attributed to the journalist, editor and playwright Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987) although some claim it's from the novelist and playwright Oscar Wild (1854-1900.)


The Bible, Ecclesiastes 1:9 (Sometimes attributed to Solomon, King of Israel, 10th century BC)

There is nothing new under the sun.

(This is an unusual quote because while all the others on this page obviously ring true, this one is blatantly false, as the rapid rate of change in our current world proves. But then it might have been a reference to man's nature, which does remain constant.)


Isaac Newton (Physicist, 1643 - 1727)

If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.

(This is a paraphrasing of a similar remark by philosopher Bernard of Chartres in 1159.)


J. P. Morgan: (1837-1913, Orchestrated the creation of US Steel, the first billion-dollar company in the world.)

If you have to ask how much something costs, you can't afford it.

I found three different sources for the origin of this quote.

1. When J. P. Morgan saw a yacht he wanted, he was reported to say something like, "I'll take it." When the salesman asked if he wanted to know how much it cost before making a decision, Morgan uttered the famous saying.

2. When a friend mentioned he was thinking about buying a yacht and asked Mr. Morgan how much one cost to maintain, Morgan's response was the quote.

3. During a business meeting when a prospective customer inquired about the cost of something J. P. Morgan gave the quote as an answer.

Karl Marx (German philosopher, economist, sociologist, 1818-1883, important figure in the creation of communism.):

Religion is the opiate of the people.

Lord Acton (1834-1902; British historian, politician and educator. Considered the most learned individual of his era, unmatched in the breadth and depth of his knowledge.):

Power Corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.


Sun-Tzu (400 BC; Chinese general and military strategist):

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.


Fred R. Barnard (Marketing expert - 1920s):

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Many references mistakenly attribute this quote to Confucius. In fact it was coined around 1921 by the advertising writer Fred Barnard to market a baking product. To give the saying more credence he had it translated into Chinese and presented as an ancient proverb. Over time it became attributed to Confusius.


Francois Rabelas (French monk and satirist 1494-1553):

Nature abhors a vacuum.


Alexander Pope (English poet, 1680-1744):

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

A little learning is a dangerous thing.


Roger Brinner (Economist):

The sum of anecdotes is not data.


Julius Caesar (Creator and ruler of the Roman Empire, 100 - 44BC):

Divide and Conquer.

Bo Diddley: (Famous musician instrumental in the creation of the early Rock and Roll sound, 1928 - 2008.) (Nick Pence emailed me the source for this quote. Thanks, Nick!)

You can't tell a book by its cover.

Correction: I've become skeptical about attributing this quote to Bo Diddley because Cary Grant uses it in the 1947 movie, The Bachelor and the Bobby-soxer. Since the movie would have been filmed in 1946, when Bo Diddley was only 18, it's doubtful he would have already established himself with such prominence to be quoted by the great and famous. I suspect that this is one of those universally used phrases that has been around so long that it would be impossible to discover who originated it.


Murphy's Law: "If anything can go wrong, it will."

In popular use for over half a century, controversy abounds as to the origins of this adage. The philosophy behind the phrase, if not this exact wording, has been around since before written history. These earlier forms are used referred to as Sod's Law or Finagle's Corollary. ("Sod" refers to any poor "sod.")

Most experts attribute the modern Murphy's Law to USAF Captain Edward Murphy, a research engineer at Edwards Air Force Base in 1949. Upon learning that a rocket sled test failed because a technician wired the sensors wrong, Murphy is reported to have exclaimed, "If there is any way to do it wrong, he'll do it." For some reason the phrase caught on and began evolving. The press got a hold of it when during a press conference the man who eventually rode the sled commented that the reason he survived is that everyone on the project paid close attention to "Murphy's Law." When asked to explain he used the form we're familiar with today.


The following is usually credited to Aesop, the Greek fabulist of around 600 B.C., but one source listed the Roman philosopher Apuleis (124-170 A.D.) as the originator:

Familiarity breeds contempt.


Benjamin Franklin (Influencial Founding Father of the United States, leading author, printer, satirist, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat, 1706 - 1790):

Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days. (Note: this is actually a paraphrasing of an earlier quote by John Lyly (1554-1606) "After three days, fish and guests stink.")


Confucius (Chinese philosopher, 551 - 479 BC):

The journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step.


Harry S. Truman (33 President of the United States, 1884 - 1972):

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

The buck stops here.


Winston Churchill (British politician, 1874-1965):

It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried.


Please click HERE to visit my main site and browse 200 other pages covering everything from the lost art of knitting Nancies to metal detecting.