Oscar Wilde Quotes

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish poet and playwright in the nineteenth century.

Before migrating to London and mingling in the most academic and elegant circles, he excelled as a Classicist at Trinity College Dublin and Oxford University.

He produced a collection of poems, taught across North America on the ‘English Renaissance in Art,’ and worked as a journalist, all while being fascinated by the burgeoning theory of Aestheticism.

Oscar Wilde became one of the most well-known figures of his time, dazzled by his extravagant attire, sharp wit, and superb conversational skills in elite London circles.

Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, was published in 1890, and it was inspired by his fascination with art and themes of decadence, deception, and beauty.

He would, however, discover his true calling as a writer. In the 1890s, Wilde penned four social comedies, including The Importance of Being Earnest.

We’ve compiled a list of Oscar Wilde’s greatest and wittiest statements about love, life, education, and more.

Oscar Wilde Quotes

I have nothing to declare except my genius.


The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.


There is no sin except stupidity.


The very essence of romance is uncertainty.


Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is by far the best ending for one.


The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing.


In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.


It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.


Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.


Anybody can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend’s success.


Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.


I can resist anything except temptation.


Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.


I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


I am not young enough to know everything.


I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.


A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.


Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.


No man is rich enough to buy back his past.


I don’t want to go to heaven. None of my friends are there.


Music makes one feel so romantic – at least it always gets on one’s nerves – which is the same thing nowadays.


Life has been your art. You have set yourself to music. Your days are your sonnets.


The one charm about the past is that it is the past.


A bore is someone who deprives you of solitude without providing you with company.


To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.


We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities.


I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.


America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.


Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.


Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.


One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age. A woman who would tell one that would tell one anything.


An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.


There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.


We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.


The world is a stage and the play is badly cast.


Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.


Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.


Everything in moderation, including moderation.


There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating: people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing.


Men always want to be a woman’s first love. That is their clumsy vanity. We women have a more subtle instinct about these things. What (women) like is to be a man’s last romance.


I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects.


Every woman is a rebel.


How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being?


I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.


Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.


Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.


The nicest feeling in the world is to do a good deed anonymously-and have somebody find out.


A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.


To define is to limit.


The truth is rarely pure and never simple.


Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.


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


Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.


A man’s face is his autobiography. A woman’s face is her work of fiction.


Who, being loved, is poor?


Society often forgives the criminal; it never forgives the dreamer.


I am too fond of reading books to care to write them.


You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.


Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.


Some things are more precious because they don’t last long.


Paradoxically though it may seem, it is none the less true that life imitates art far more than art imitates life.


Indeed I have always been of the opinion that hard work is simply the refuge of people who have nothing to do.


Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.


Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world’s original sin. If the cave-man had known how to laugh, History would have been different.


Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.


After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.


I am sick to death of cleverness. Everybody is clever nowadays.


Friendship is far more tragic than love. It lasts longer.


Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.


If you are not long, I will wait for you all my life.


I love to talk about nothing. It’s the only thing I know anything about.


A man who does not think for himself does not think at all.


When a woman marries again, it is because she detested her first husband. When a man marries again, it is because he adored his first wife. Women try their luck; men risk theirs.


To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.


To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.


One should always play fairly when one has the winning cards.


A good friend will always stab you in the front.


I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.


Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.


With freedom, flowers, books, and the moon, who could not be perfectly happy?


They get up early, because they have so much to do, and go to bed early, because they have so little to think about.


It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.


The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.


Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.


When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one’s self, and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.


Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people we personally dislike.


Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and a richness to life that nothing else can bring.


The aim of life is self-development. To realize one’s nature perfectly – that is what each of us is here for.


The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.


Everything popular is wrong.


The basis of optimism is sheer terror.


A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.


Men marry because they are tired, women, because they are curious: both are disappointed.


Crying is for plain women. Pretty women go shopping.


Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious.


Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.


We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.


Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.


Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.


Women are meant to be loved, not to be understood.


Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.


My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people’s.


People who count their chickens before they are hatched act very wisely because chickens run about so absurdly that it’s impossible to count them accurately.


How else but through a broken heart may Lord Christ enter in?


If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.


Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the curious attractiveness of others.


You can never be overdressed or overeducated.


I never put off till tomorrow what I can possibly do – the day after.


Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation, and conversation must have a common basis, and between two people of widely different culture the only common basis possible is the lowest level.


One should always be in love. That’s the reason one should never marry.


Consistency is the hallmark of the unimaginative.


He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.


The world was my oyster but I used the wrong fork.


Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.


Hearts are made to be broken.


Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.


A passion for pleasure is the secret of remaining young.


Appearance blinds, whereas words reveal.


I beg your pardon I didn’t recognize you – I’ve changed a lot.


A flower blossoms for its own joy.


If you want to be a doormat you have to lay yourself down first.


It takes great deal of courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it.


Life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple, and the simple thing is the right thing.


Women have a much better time than men in this world; there are far more things forbidden to them.


I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex.


After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.


Work is the curse of the drinking classes


There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.


A pessimist is somebody who complains about the noise when opportunity knocks.


Hear no evil, speak no evil, and you won’t be invited to cocktail parties.


Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.


Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.


Some things are too important to be taken seriously


I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.


All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his.


No good deed goes unpunished.


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


They’ve promised that dreams can come true – but forgot to mention that nightmares are dreams, too.


I like men who have a future and women who have a past.


The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.


I like persons better than principles, and I like persons with no principles better than anything else in the world.


The mystery of love is greater than the mystery of death.


Life is too short to learn German.


In old days books were written by men of letters and read by the public. Nowadays books are written by the public and read by nobody.


I don’t say we all ought to misbehave. But we ought to look as if we could.


Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.


Popularity is the one insult I have never suffered.


I have no objection to anyone’s sex life as long as they don’t practice it in the street and frighten the horses.


Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit.


Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.


Memory is the diary we all carry about with us.


Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.


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