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Mark Twain Quotes

Updated on October 17, 2010

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835 – 1910) better known as Mark Twain, was an American author, thinker and satirist. Although renowned for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Twain is equally popular for his satire and wit and which earned him the title of the "greatest American humorist of his age". Here are some famous Mark Twain quotes for you :-


  • “Words are only painted fire; a look is the fire itself.”
  • “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.”
  • “Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today.”
  • “Any emotion, if it is sincere, is involuntary.”
  • “The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice.”
  • “Be careless in your dress if you will, but keep a tidy soul.”
  • “All generalizations are false, including this one.”
  • “All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure.”
  • “Better a broken promise than none at all.”
  • “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
  • “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”
  • "If all men were rich, all men would be poor."
  • “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

  • "When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained."

Chromolithograph from the 1898 oil portrait by Ignace Spiridon.
Chromolithograph from the 1898 oil portrait by Ignace Spiridon.

  • “The elastic heart of youth cannot be compressed into one constrained shape long at a time.”
  • “The holy passion of friendship is so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring in nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money.”
  • “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.”
  • “Grief can take care of itself; but to get the full value of a joy you must have someone to divide it with.”
  • “The lack of money is the root of all evil.”
  • “You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
  • “Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.”
  • “In order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to obtain."
  • “The common eye sees only the outside of things, and judges by that, but the seeing eye pierces through and reads the heart and the soul, finding there capacities which the outside didn't indicate or promise, and which the other kind couldn't detect."


  • “It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either.”
  • “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
  • “Government is merely a servant, merely a temporary servant… its function is to obey orders, not originate them.”
  • “The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them.”
  • “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
  • "What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin."


  • “Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing the matter with this, except that it ain't so.”
  • “Why shouldn't truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.”
  • "The reason we hold truth in such respect is because we have so little opportunity to get familiar with it."
  • Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”

  • “Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.”
  • “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.”
  • “Honesty is the best policy - when there is money in it.”


"What is Man? Man is a noisome bacillus whom our Heavenly Father created because he was disappointed in the monkey."

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval. ”

“A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar. ”

“A man's character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation.”

"Man was made at the end of the week's work, when God was tired."

"Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to."

"Man is kind enough when he is not excited by religion."

  • "Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion--several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight."
  • "I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's."
  • "If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be - a Christian."
  • "The church is always trying to get other people to reform, it might not be a bad idea to reform itself a little, by way of example"
  • "I cannot see how a man of any large degree of humorous perception can ever be religious--unless he purposely shut the eyes of his mind & keep them shut by force."
  • "Irrevence is another person's disrespect to your god; there isn't any word that tells what your disrespect to his god is."
  • "Let us swear while we may, for in Heaven it will not be allowed."

  • "Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer."
  • "Often it does seem a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat."
  • But who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most? ”
  • "Concentration of power in a political machine is bad; and an Established Church is only a political machine; it was invented for that; it is nursed, cradled, preserved for that; it is an enemy to human liberty, and does no good which it could not better do in a split-up and scattered condition."
  • "Blasphemy? No, it is not blasphemy. If God is as vast as that, he is above blasphemy; if he is as little as that, he is beneath it."
  • "It was not that Adam ate the apple for the apple's sake, but because it was forbidden. It would have been better for us--oh infinitely better for us--if the serpent had been forbidden."
  • "We have to keep our God placated with prayer, and even then we are never sure of him!"
  • "What a man misses mostly in heaven is company."
  • "Religion consists in a set of things which the average man thinks he believes and wishes he was certain of."

  • "Man is a marvelous curiosity...he thinks he is the Creator's pet...he even believes the Creator loves him; has passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to him and thinks he listens. Isn't it a quaint idea!"
  • "It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bothers me, it is the parts that I do understand."
  • "Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in"
  • "Men are more compassionate/nobler/magnanimous/generous than God; for men forgive their dead, but God does not."
  • "Dying man couldn't make up his mind which place to go to--both have their advantages, heaven for the climate, hell for the company!"
  • "One of the "proofs" of the immortality of the soul is that myriads have believed it. They have also believed the world was flat."
  • "Surely the ass who invented the first religion ought to be the first ass damned."

Mark Twain's Desk.
Mark Twain's Desk.

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