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15 Witty Sayings from Famous Witty People

Updated on April 23, 2018
Jule Romans profile image

Jule Romans is a retired high school teacher with more than 25 years of experience helping students succeed in the classroom.

Lucille Ball was a great comedienne. She was also an intelligent and beautiful woman.
Lucille Ball was a great comedienne. She was also an intelligent and beautiful woman. | Source

Aristotle once said "Wit is educated insolence."

That may be true, but these witty sayings come from witty people who are far from insolent. In fact, most of them are wise and admirable.

The witty people quoted below range from elder statesmen to comediennes. What they have to say may surprise you.

Included in this article:

  • Isaac Asimov- Science fiction author
  • Dolly Parton- Country music star
  • Ann Landers- Advice columnist
  • Bertrand Russell- Writer
  • Abraham Lincoln- Politician
  • Lucille Ball- Comedian
  • Mark Twain- Author
  • Oscar Wilde- Playwright

All these people come fro different walks of life and different time periods. Each one has an interesting witty saying. Some are quite surprising. For example, Abraham Lincoln's quote is just a little risque. Dolly Parton's quote is honest- with a twist. And Lucille Ball's quote has some seriousness to it.

Each quote is accompanied by a short bit of background information, and sometime a couple of interesting links for you to explore. These aren't just groups of randomly assembled quotations. Each saying is chosen for its wit or wisdom. Each person included has a description that highlights their witty character..

1. Isaac Asimov

"Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome."

Isaac Asimov, 1920–1992.

American author and scientist. Asimov was the creator of I,Robot and many other keystone works of science fiction. The “Asimo” robot is named in his honor.

Knowing what you can not do is more important than knowing what you can do. In fact, that's good taste.

— Lucille Ball

2. Lucille Ball

"Knowing what you can not do is more important than knowing what you can do. In fact, that's good taste."

Lucille Ball, 1911–1989.

American actress and producer. Lucille Ball was widely regarded as the best female comedian of her time. What many people may not know is that she was a true beauty, and an early member of the movie studio "star" system that reached its peak in the 1940s.

3. Winston Churchill

"A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject."

Winston Churchill, 1874–1965.

British statesman, soldier, and author. Best known as a member of the British house of commons, Churchill was also an American. Churchill’s mother was American heiress Jennie Jerome. Another lesser-known fact about Churchill is that he engineered a daring escape form a Boer prison camp in 1899.

A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.

— Winston Churchill

4. Abba Eban

"History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives."

Abba Eban, 1915–2002.

Israeli statesman. Eban received the Israel prize for lifetime achievement in 2001. He was an accomplished author, diplomat, soldier, and a strongly influential member of the United Nations.

5. J.K. Galbraith

"Faced with having to change our views or prove that there is no need to do so, most of us immediately get busy on the proof."

J.K. Galbraith, 1908-2006.

Canadian-born economist, teacher and diplomat. Galbraith was able to make economics relevant to modern crises. He concentrated his attention on American economics, consistently providing warnings about the dangers of greedy corporations and the price of military power.

6. Kin Hubbard

"The fellow that agrees with everything you say is either a fool or he is getting ready to skin you."

Kin Hubbard, 1868-1930.

American cartoonist. Hubbard’s comic strip "Abe Martin of Brown County" ran in national newspapers from 1904-1930. His humor tended toward the down to earth and practical observations on human nature.

Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.

— Ann Landers

7. Ann Landers

"Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful."

Ann Landers, 1918-2002

American columnist. It is probably already well known that Ann Landers was the pen name of Eppie Lederer. Eppie Lederer and Pauline Phillips were twin sisters. Pauline Phillips wrote under the pen name of Abigail VanBuren, popularly known as “Dear Abby.” Lesser known is the fact that Eppie Lederer was the wife of Jules Lederer, who was the founder of Budget Rent-A-Car.

8. Abraham Lincoln

"No matter how much the cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens."

Abraham Lincoln 1809-1865.

16th U.S. president. Lincoln’s image is instantly recognizable, as are many of his words. His mother was Nancy Hanks, an interesting historical figure in her own right.

No matter how much the cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens.

— Abraham Lincoln

Did you expect Abraham Lincoln to say something like that?

See results

9. H.L. Mencken

"Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood."

H. L. Mencken 1880–1956.

American editor, author, and critic. Mencken wrote for the Baltimore Sun newspaper. He reached his peak of fame in the 1920s, making sharp observations on the hypocrisy of humankind. He seemed to have an emphasis on the sadness of the human condition. He also has a famous quote about flowers.

Dolly Parton has a terrific sense of humor.
Dolly Parton has a terrific sense of humor. | Source

10. Dolly Parton

"I'm not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I'm not dumb ... and I also know that I'm not blonde."

Dolly Parton b.1946.

American singer and songwriter. Originally a country singer, Parton also is also successful as an actress, producer, and entrepreneur. She is striking for her intelligence, monogamy, and versatile talents.

Were you surprised by Dolly Parton's quote?

See results

11. Bertrand Russell

"One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important."

Bertrand Russell 1872–1970.

British philosopher, mathematician, and social reformer. Russell was a teacher of mathematics at Cambridge, and the author of Principa Mathematica . He was also the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, 1950.

One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.

— Bertrand Russell

12. Kelvin Throop

"Isn’t it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?"

Kelvin Throop

Fictional character created by RAJ Phillips. Throop's observations appear frequently in quote collections on the web. Interesting that a fictional character can be so widely quoted, isn’t it?

Mark Twain, AKA Samuel Clemens
Mark Twain, AKA Samuel Clemens | Source

13. Mark Twain

"Few things are harder to put up with than a good example."

Mark Twain, 1835-1910.

American author. Mark Twain is the pen name of Samuel Clemens. Frequently misquoted. Twain was born in a year when Halley’s comet was visible from Earth, and died in a year when Halley’s comet was visible from Earth.

14. Gore Vidal

"A narcissist is someone better looking than you are."

Gore Vidal b. 1925.

American novelist and playwright. Famous for writing several US historical novels that are actually literate, Gore is also well known for his sophistication and intelligence. Unfortunately, his intellect has not served him well in the political arena. Gore has run unsuccessfully for both congress and senate. He and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy had the same stepfather.

The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

— Oscar Wilde

15. Oscar Wilde

"The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."

Oscar Wilde, 1854–1900.

Irish author. Most of Wilde’s stage plays poke fun at the foibles of the British upper/middle classes of the late 19th century. Their humor is more difficult for younger people to appreciate because it is based on etiquette and social conventions of that time.Nonetheless, there have been several movie adaptations of his works.

How many people did you know in this article?

See results

© 2010 Jule Romans


Submit a Comment

  • Jule Romans profile imageAUTHOR

    Jule Romans 

    4 months ago from United States

    Thanks for reading!

  • poetryman6969 profile image


    4 months ago

    Some great quotes. Thanks!

  • Jule Romans profile imageAUTHOR

    Jule Romans 

    8 years ago from United States

    Thank you! I enjoyed writing it. I don't know. I like a lot of them. :-)

  • Winsome profile image


    8 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

    Jules, this is one of the better "quote" hubs I've seen because of the mini-bio's and citation of their works. I really enjoyed it. =:) Which one is your favorite?


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