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Truth & Lies


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Benjamin DisraeliThere are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics.

—  Benjamin Disraeli, 1804-1881, British Prime Minister

Jerry SeinfeldPeople who read the tabloids deserve to be lied to.

—  Jerry Seinfeld, 1954-, American comedian

George CarlinBy and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth.

—  George Carlin, 1936-2008, American comedian

Jean BaudrillardIt only takes a politician believing in what he says for others to stop believing in him.

—  Jean Baudrillard, 1929-2007, French intellectual

AristotleHomer has taught all other poets the art of telling lies skillfully.

—  Aristotle, 384-322 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

Otto von BismarckPeople never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election.

—  Otto von Bismarck, 1815-1898, German chancellor

Franklin RooseveltRepetition does not transform a lie into a truth.

—  Franklin Roosevelt, 1882-1945, American President [1936-1945]

Pablo PicassoArt is a lie that makes us realize the truth.

—  Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973, Spanish painter

Umberto EcoSemiotics is, in principle, the discipline studying everything which can be used in order to lie.

—  Umberto Eco, 1932-2016, Italian writer

George Bernard ShawWhen a thing is funny, search it carefully for a hidden truth.

—  George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950, Irish writer, Nobel 1925

William BlakeTruth can never be told so as to be understood and not be believed.

—  William Blake, 1757-1827, English poet & painter

George Bernard ShawIf you're going to tell people the truth, you better make them laugh; otherwise they'll kill you.

—  George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950, Irish writer, Nobel 1925

George Bernard ShawThe liar's punishment is, not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.

—  George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950, Irish writer, Nobel 1925

Lao-TzuThe truest sayings are paradoxical.

—  Lao-Tzu, 6th cent. BC, Chinese philosopher

Pablo PicassoYou mustn't always believe what I say. Questions tempt you to tell lies, particularly when there is no answer.

—  Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973, Spanish painter

George Bernard ShawMy way of joking is to tell the truth. It's the funniest joke in the world.

—  George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950, Irish writer, Nobel 1925

Benjamin FranklinHalf a truth is often a great lie.

—  Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790, American politician & writer

Wolfgang GoetheNothing is more damaging to a new truth than an old error.

—  Wolfgang Goethe, 1749-1832, German poet & philosopher

Friedrich NietzscheI'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.

—  Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844-1900, German philosopher

Friedrich NietzscheConvictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies.

—  Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844-1900, German philosopher

Friedrich NietzscheWhat is the truth, but a lie agreed upon.

—  Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844-1900, German philosopher

Mark TwainFiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.

—  Mark Twain, 1835-1910, American writer

Mark TwainIf you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything.

—  Mark Twain, 1835-1910, American writer

Mark TwainA lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

—  Mark Twain, 1835-1910, American writer

Mark TwainWhen in doubt tell the truth. It will confound your enemies and astound your friends.

—  Mark Twain, 1835-1910, American writer

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

—  Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900, Irish writer

George OrwellIn a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

—  George Orwell, 1903-1950, British writer

Niccolò MachiavelliThere is no other way of guarding oneself against flattery than by letting men understand that they will not offend you by speaking the truth; but when everyone can tell you the truth, you lose their respect.

—  Niccolò Machiavelli, 1469-1527, Italian political philosopher

Mark TwainWhen in doubt, tell the truth.

—  Mark Twain, 1835-1910, American writer

H.L. MenckenIt is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.

—  H.L. Mencken, 1880-1956, American columnist & cultural critic

Mahatma GandhiTruth never damages a cause that is just.

—  Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948, Indian leader of independence

John KennedyThe great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived, and dishonest -- but the myth -- persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.

—  John Kennedy, 1917-1963, American President [1961-1963]

Benjamin DisraeliNever apologize for showing feeling, my friend. Remember that when you do so, you apologize for truth.

—  Benjamin Disraeli, 1804-1881, British Prime Minister

Albert CamusFiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.

—  Albert Camus, 1913-1960, French writer, Nobel 1957

Stanislaw Jerzy LecNever lie when the truth is more profitable.

—  Stanislaw Jerzy Lec, 1906-1966, Polish author of maxims

Thomas PaineAs to the book called the bible, it is blasphemy to call it the Word of God. It is a book of lies and contradictions and a history of bad times and bad men.

—  Thomas Paine, 1737-1809, English-American writer

Jean CocteauI am a lie who always speaks the truth.

—  Jean Cocteau, 1889-1963, French artist

Jean CocteauThere are truths which one can only say after having won the right to say them.

—  Jean Cocteau, 1889-1963, French artist

Victor HugoIt is not easy to keep silent when silence is a lie.

—  Victor Hugo, 1802-1885, French writer

Paul ValeryThat which has always been accepted by everyone, everywhere, is almost certain to be false.

—  Paul Valery, 1871-1945, French poet

Henry David ThoreauIt takes two to speak the truth — one to speak and another to hear.

—  Henry David Thoreau, 1817-1862, American writer

Fyodor DostoyevskyNothing in this world is harder than speaking the truth, nothing easier than flattery.

—  Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1821-1881, Russian writer

Fyodor DostoyevskyA man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else.

—  Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1821-1881, Russian writer

Jules RenardYou should tell the truth from time to time, in order to believe you when you lie.

—  Jules Renard, 1864-1910, French writer

Alfred CapusWhen a woman begins to point out that she is honest, it's time to be wary.

—  Alfred Capus, 1858-1922, French writer

Alfred North WhiteheadThere are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.

—  Alfred North Whitehead, 1861-1947, British philosopher & mathematician

Douglas MacArthurWe are not retreating - we are advancing in another direction.

—  Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964, American general

Karl KrausThe real truths are those that can be invented.

—  Karl Kraus, 1874-1936, Austrian writer

Karl KrausHow is the world ruled and led to war? Diplomats lie to journalists and believe these lies when they see them in print.

—  Karl Kraus, 1874-1936, Austrian writer

Adolf HitlerThe victor will never be asked if he told the truth.

—  Adolf Hitler, 1889-1945, German dictator

T. S. EliotWhat is true, is true only for one time and only for one place.

—  T. S. Eliot, 1888-1965, British poet, Nobel 1948

Anton ChekhovAlthough you may tell lies, people will believe you, if only you speak with authority.

—  Anton Chekhov, 1860-1904, Russian writer

Anton ChekhovMy own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.

—  Anton Chekhov, 1860-1904, Russian writer

Jean Jacques RousseauThere are always four sides to a story: your side, their side, the truth and what really happened.

—  Jean Jacques Rousseau, 1712-1778, Swiss-French philosopher

Harry TrumanI never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell.

—  Harry Truman, 1884-1972, American President [1945-1953]

David Lloyd GeorgeSincerity is the surest road to confidence.

—  David Lloyd George, 1863-1945, British Prime Minister [1916-1922]

Wolfgang GoetheTruth is contrary to our nature, not so error, and this for a very simple reason; truth demands that we should recognize ourselves as limited, error flatters us that, in one way or another, we are unlimited.

—  Wolfgang Goethe, 1749-1832, German poet & philosopher

Vladimir LeninA lie told often enough becomes the truth.

—  Vladimir Lenin, 1870-1924, Soviet revolutionary & leader

William BlakeWhen I tell any Truth it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it but for the sake of defending those who do.

—  William Blake, 1757-1827, English poet & painter

NapoleonA book in which there were no lies would be a curiosity.

—  Napoleon, 1769-1821, French Emperor

George OrwellAutobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.

—  George Orwell, 1903-1950, British writer

Georg Christoph LichtenbergThe most dangerous of all falsehoods is a slightly distorted truth.

—  Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, 1742-1799, German author of maxims

Adolf HitlerYou will never learn what I am thinking. And those who boast most loudly that they know my thought, to such people I lie even more.

—  Adolf Hitler, 1889-1945, German dictator

Latin Quotes

SenecaTruth hates delay.

Veritas odit moras.

—  Seneca, 4 AD-65 AD, Roman philosopher


Quotes in Verse

William BlakeA truth that's told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.

—  William Blake, 1757-1827, English poet & painter

Funny Quotes

Yogi BerraI never said most of the things I said.

—  Yogi Berra, 1925-2015, American baseball player & humorist


Italian proverbThough not true, well said.

Se non e vero, e bene trovato.

—  Italian proverb

Yiddish proverbThe truth can walk around naked; the lie has to be clothed.

—  Yiddish proverb

German proverbTruth gives a short answer, while the lie usually babbles.

—  German proverb

International proverbThe liar is not believed even when he tells the truth.

—  International proverb

Yiddish proverbThe truth surfaces like oil on water.

—  Yiddish proverb


Movie Quotes

Breathless (1960)There's no need to lie. It's like poker. The truth is best. The others still think you're bluffing, so you win.

—  from the film Breathless (1960)


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2017: Manolis Papathanassiou