The twenty best things ever said—by anyone

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

As published recently elsewhere, here is a list of the twenty best things ever said—by anyone. Originally a list of twenty-five, I whittled it down to twenty, adding my own personal favourite at number one. The order is arbitrary otherwise.

I'm pretty sure that this list could be improved greatly—for example it pains me to include a saying by L.B.J., although number 13 has a suitable response to this sentiment—so feel free to add alternative quotes as comments.


20. If two men agree on everything, you may be sure that one of them is doing the thinking.
-- Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973)

19. It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
-- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

18. To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.
-- Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

17. When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
-- Desiderius Erasmus (1465-1536)

16. It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.
-- Epictetus (c.55-c.135)

15. He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice.
-- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

14. As I would not be a slave, so I will not be a master.
Abraham Lincoln

13. If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.
-- Noam Chomsky (b. 1928)

12. This above all, to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not be false to any man.
-- Shakespeare.

11. The gods are amused when the busy river condemns the idle clouds.
-- Rabindranath Tagore

10. Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.
-- William Pitt (1759-1806)

9. Pain shared is lessened, joy shared, increased.
-- Spider Robinson

8. The good old days. I was there. Where was they?
-- Moms Mabley 1894-1975

7. The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" but "That's funny..."
-- Isaac Asimov (1920-1992)

6. That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.
-- Hillel

5. Those who would give up a little freedom to get a little security shall soon have neither.
-- Benjamin Franklin

4. If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let each man march to his own rhythm, however measured, or far away.
-- H. D. Thoreau

3. There is nothing so horrible in nature as to see a beautiful theory murdered by an ugly gang of facts.
-- Benjamin Franklin

2. Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people's souls, when we all ought to be worried abut our own souls, and other people's bellies.
-- Rabbi Israel Salanter 1810-1883

1. Truth is in all,
But love is all.