Top 100 quotes

Here are the top 100 quotes from the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, as selected by the Oxford Dictionary team.

100 classic quotes

  1. Great Britain has lost an empire and has not yet found a role.
    —Dean Acheson, 1962
  2. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    —Lord Acton, 1887
  3. Man is by nature a political animal.
    —Aristotle, 4th century BC
  4. That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.
    —Neil Armstrong, 1969
  5. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
    —Jane Austen, 1813
  6. Revenge is a kind of wild justice.
    —Francis Bacon, 1635
  7. I'm dreaming of a white Christmas.
    —Irving Berlin, 1942
  8. We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they.
    —Bernard of Chartres, 12th century
  9. In the beginning was the Word.
    —Bible (St John's Gospel)
  10. Politics is the art of the possible.
    —Otto von Bismarck, 1867

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  1. And did those feet in ancient time
    Walk upon England's mountains green?
    —William Blake, 1804–10
  2. C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre [It is magnificent, but it is not war].
    —Pierre Bosquet, 1854
  3. Reader, I married him.
    —Charlotte Brontë, 1847
  4. No coward soul is mine.
    —Emily Brontë, 1846
  5. If I should die, think only this of me:
    That there's some corner of a foreign field That is forever England.
    —Rupert Brooke, 1914
  6. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
    —Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1850
  7. Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?
    —Robert Browning, 1855
  8. It's a great life if you don't weaken.
    —John Buchan, 1919
  9. It is necessary only for the good man to do nothing for evil to triumph
    —Edmund Burke (attributed, not found in his writings)
  10. The best laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft a-gley.
    —Robert Burns, 1796

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  1. I awoke one morning and found myself famous.
    —Lord Byron, 1824
  2. Veni, vidi, vici [I came, I saw, I conquered].
    —Julius Caesar, 1st century BC
  3. It doesn't matter what you do in the bedroom as long as you don't do it in the street and frighten the horses.
    —Mrs Patrick Campbell, 1940
  4. The three great elements of modern civilization, Gunpowder, Printing, and the Protestant Religion.
    —Thomas Carlyle, 1838
  5. The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday—but never jam today.
    —Lewis Carroll, 1872
  6. After forty a woman has to choose between losing her figure or her face. My advice is to keep your face, and stay sitting down.
    —Barbara Cartland, 1993
  7. Delenda est Carthago [Carthage must be destroyed].
    —Cato the Elder, 3rd century BC
  8. Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.
    —Edith Cavell, 1915
  9. Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.
    —Raymond Chandler, 1944
  10. Let not poor Nelly starve.
    —Charles II, 1685

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  1. He was a verray, parfit gentil knyght.
    —Geoffrey Chaucer, 14th century
  2. The pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable.
    —Lord Chesterfield, on sex
  3. When men stop believing in God they don't believe in nothing; they believe in anything.
    —G. K. Chesterton, 1936
  4. I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.
    —Winston Churchill, 1940
  5. The sinews of war: unlimited money.
    —Cicero, 1st century BC
  6. War is nothing but the continuation of politics with the admixture of other means.
    —Karl von Clausewitz, 1832-4
  7. In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
    A stately pleasure-dome decree.
    —Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1816
  8. Music hath charms to sooth a savage breast.
    —William Congreve, 1697
  9. Mad dogs and Englishmen Go out in the midday sun.
    —Noël Coward, 1931
  10. Variety's the very spice of life.
    —William Cowper, 1785

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  1. Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong.
    —Stephen Decatur, 1816
  2. Honey, I just forgot to duck.
    —Jack Dempsey, 1926, having lost the World Heavyweight title
  3. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
    —Charles Dickens, 1859
  4. Is man an ape or an angel? Now I am on the side of the angels.
    —Benjamin Disraeli, 1864
  5. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
    —John Donne, 1624
  6. 'Excellent,' I cried. 'Elementary,' said he.
    —Arthur Conan Doyle; origin of the misquotation, 'Elementary, my dear Watson'.
  7. Great wits are sure to madness near allied.
    —John Dryden, 1681
  8. The times they are a-changin'.
    —Bob Dylan, 1964
  9. Science is an edged tool, with which men play like children, and cut their own fingers.
    —Arthur Eddington, 1944
  10. Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety nine per cent perspiration.
    —Thomas Alva Edison, c.1903

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  1. E=mc².
    —Albert Einstein, 1905 (usual form of his statement)
  2. April is the cruellest month.
    —T. S. Eliot, 1922
  3. I know I have 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.
    —Elizabeth I, 1588
  4. I'm glad we've been bombed. It makes me feel I can look the East End in the face.
    —Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, 1940
  5. There is no 'royal road' to geometry.
    —Euclid, 4th century BC
  6. Never give a sucker an even break.
    —W. C. Fields, 1941
  7. Shaken and not stirred.
    —Ian Fleming, 1958
  8. Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.
    —Henry Ford, 1909
  9. Only connect!...Only connect the prose and the passion.
    —E. M. Forster, 1910
  10. All that matters is love and work.
    —Sigmund Freud, attributed

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  1. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less travelled by.
    —Robert Frost, 1916
  2. Nice work if you can get it, And you can get it if you try.
    —Ira Gershwin, 1937
  3. My English text is chaste, and all licentious passages are left in the obscurity of a learned language.
    —Edward Gibbon, 1796
  4. Always scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh! Mr. Gibbon?
    —Duke of Gloucester, 1805
  5. A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it is written on.
    —Sam Goldwyn, 1974
  6. Give me liberty, or give me death!
    —Patrick Henry, 1775
  7. Clear your mind of cant.
    —Samuel Johnson, 1783
  8. A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.
    —John Keats, 1818
  9. Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.
    —John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1961
  10. I have a dream.
    —Martin Luther King, 1963

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  1. If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you.
    —Rudyard Kipling, 1910
  2. Gentlemen prefer blondes.
    —Anita Loos, 1925
  3. Was this the face that launched a thousand ships?
    —Christopher Marlowe, 1593
  4. Fame is the spur.
    —John Milton, 1638
  5. England expects that every man will do his duty.
    —Horatio Nelson, 1805
  6. The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.
    —Blaise Pascal, 1670
  7. Hope springs eternal in the human breast.
    —Alexander Pope, 1733
  8. He would, wouldn't he?
    —Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963
  9. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
    —Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933
  10. O what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive.
    —Sir Walter Scott, 1808

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  1. Superhuman effort isn't worth a damn unless it achieves results
    —Ernest Shackleton, 1916
  2. To be, or not to be: that is the question.
    —William Shakespeare, 1601
  3. Marriage is popular because it combines the maximum of temptation with the maximum of opportunity.
    —George Bernard Shaw, 1903
  4. Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
    —Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1819
  5. Am I no a bonny fighter?
    —Robert Louis Stevenson, 1886
  6. In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.
    —Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1842
  7. The lady's not for turning.
    —Margaret Thatcher, 1980
  8. All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
    —Leo Tolstoy, 1875-7.
  9. Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
    —Mark Twain, 1897 (popular version)
  10. Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes [I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts].
    —Virgil, 1st century BC

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  1. I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
    —Voltaire (actually a later summary of his attitude rather than his own words)
  2. Publish and be damned.
    —Duke of Wellington, c.1825
  3. Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?
    —Mae West
  4. To lose one parent...may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.
    —Oscar Wilde, 1895
  5. A week is a long time in politics
    —Harold Wilson, c.1964
  6. Slice him where you like, a hellhound is always a hellhound.
    —P. G. Wodehouse, 1938
  7. They think it's all over—it is now
    —Kenneth Wolstenhome, closing moments of World Cup Final, 1966.
  8. A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.
    —Virginia Woolf, 1929
  9. Earth has not anything to show more fair.
    —William Wordsworth, 1807
  10. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
    —William Butler Yeats, 1899

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Find out more about The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations Seventh Edition, edited by Elizabeth Knowles.

 

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