A Substitute for Wit: A Review of Quotations Websites

The-ability-to-quote-is-a-serviceable-substitute-for-wit-W.-Somerset-MaughamThis is a newspaper article written for The Island, back in May 2004. So please note that the web links given may be obsolete. I just like the introduction piece, because, shall we say… its all quotations and I had a lot of fun writing this piece.

The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.
W. Somerset Maugham (1874 – 1965)

If you do not believe so, read on.

When I was born I was so surprised I didn’t talk for a year and a half (Gracie Allen, 1906 – 1964). My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it (Mark Twain, 1835 – 1910). When I was a kid my favorite relative was Uncle Caveman. After school we’d all go play in his cave, and every once in a while he would eat one of us. It wasn’t until later that I found out that Uncle Caveman was a bear (Jack Handey).

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But, when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years (Mark Twain). I’ve always followed my father’s advice: he told me, first to always keep my word and, second, to never insult anybody unintentionally. If I insult you, you can be goddamn sure I intend to. And, third, he told me not to go around looking for trouble (John Wayne, 1907 – 1979).

My grandfather once told me that there are two kinds of people: those who work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was less competition there (Indira Gandhi, 1917 – 1984). There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle (Albert Einstein, 1879-1955).

I was taught that everything is attainable if you are prepared to give up, to sacrifice, to get it. Whatever you want to do, you can do it, if you want it badly enough, and I do believe that. I believe that if I wanted to run a mile is four minutes I could do it. I would have to give up everything else in my life, but I could run a mile in four minutes. I believe that if a man wanted to walk on water and was prepared to give up everything else in life, he could do that (Stirling Moss). The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do (Walter Bagehot). I believe that one of life’s greatest risks is never daring to risk (Oprah Winfrey).

I think, therefore I am (Rene Descartes (1596-1650). I think, therefore I am – I think (Howard Schneider) Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1898). I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean (G. K. Chesterton, 1874 – 1936). It’s hard to be funny when you have to be clean (Mae West, 1892 – 1980).

Everything has been figured out, except how to live (Jean-Paul Sartre, 1905-1980). Certainly there are things in life that money can’t buy, but it’s very funny – Did you ever try buying them without money? (Ogden Nash, 1902 – 1971). Happiness is not a buy-product (Norman Vincent Peale). Don’t mistake pleasure for happiness. They’re a different breed of dog (Josh Billings). Happiness is like a cat; if you try to coax it or call it, it will avoid you, it will never come. But if you pay not attention to it and go about your business, you’ll find it rubbing against your legs and jumping into your lap (William John Bennett).

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation (Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900). Some for renown on scraps of learning dote, and think they grow immortal as they quote (Edward Young, 1683 – 1765).

I rest my case. All the above quotations above—22 in all—were taken from just two websites. Today let us go in search of websites which will provide you with quotations to last a few lifetimes. If as a result you wish to throw away your old books of quotation, please send them to me. I am always living at wit’s end!

  • The Quotations Page

The Quotations Page is the oldest quotation site on the Web. It was established in 1994. There are over 20,000 quotations online from over 2400 authors. More are added daily. Don’t forget to stop by their Forums for answers to your quotation questions.

  • Quoteland.com

Quoteland contains a large collection of quotations divided by topic and author, as well as the text of historical documents.

This is the famous publisher, Bartleby’s website. It offers online the following quotations resources with search facilities. A great source. Just the word experience unearthed more than 1000 references!


Here quotations can be browsed by category, subject and author. Remember to check out the Free Quotes Software and the goodies section for the Quotations Screensaver.

Be inspired by the free software tool that brings you closer to the world of quotations. Now you can enjoy and benefit from inspiring & thought provoking quotations direct to your PC desktop. 30 fantastic quotations will be delivered to your computer desktop one by one every 30 minutes.

I downloaded the Quotes Software and installed it on my browser. It gets updated regularly and you can basically put an end to stop being bored as you wait for some pages to load and unload or large files to get saved. Try it today! It can also be accessed at the following address:

Desktop Quotes Software [www.desktop-quotes.com]

A well-known collection of about 1,000 ‘daffy definitions’ published in 1911. Some of the definitions are dated, politically incorrect or just plain confusing for those of us who learned English in the second half of the 1900s. But there are some excellent (and often misquoted) definitions in it. Some of the definitions are so brilliant and sprinkled liberally with poetry that I decided to include some of them in each version of the Ezine Athwela email magazine that I edit. (To subscribe free to Ezine Athwela, see details at the end of this article.)

BrainyQuote offers Over 43,000 famous quotes by 10,000 authors and celebrities. Some of their other features include a daily email delivery of topical quotes and Who Said That? The latter can be used to test your skill with over 300 quote trivia questions and quotations. (I was so impressed that I am also reproducing some of these in Ezine Athwela from next issue.) BrainyQuote also gives you access links to the BrainyDictionary, BrainyEncyclopedia  BrainyGeography and BrainyHistory websites.

Creative Quotations provides famous quotes and biographical information for 3,000 famous people. It’s a great research tool for students and teachers. The site links quotes to creativity to inspire creative thinking, defined as the power to connect the seemingly unconnected. The site content can also be accessed in an unusual manner under the themes of Foraging, Reflecting, Adopting, Nurturing and Knuckling Down. And they advice you to browse creatively. Good luck!

I have taken out some of the previously published links which are no longer valid.

About Nilooka

I am a learner; and also a great trainer. I make learning fun for myself and for everyone else. Follow me @NVEDissanayake and visit my Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BusinessTrainerSriLanka/
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