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Wit

  • Wit has a deadly aim and it is possible to prick a large pretense with a small pin.

  • The wit of a family is usually best received among strangers.

  • If, with the literate, I am / Impelled to try an epigram, / I never seek to take the credit; / We all assume that Oscar said it.

  • He [Robert Benchley] and I had an office so tiny that an inch smaller and it would have been adultery.

    • Dorothy Parker,
    • in Malcolm Cowley, ed., Writers at Work, 1st series ()
  • There's a hell of a distance between wisecracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.

    • Dorothy Parker,
    • in Malcolm Cowley, ed., Writers at Work, 1st series ()
  • Brevity is the soul of lingerie ...

    • Dorothy Parker,
    • 1914, for Vogue,in Robert E. Drennan, The Algonquin Wits ()
  • [On being told their loquacious, domineering host was 'outspoken':] By whom?

  • [To the British actor who annoyed her by repeated references to his busy 'shedule':] I think you're full of skit.

    • Dorothy Parker,
    • in Marion Meade, Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This? ()
  • Wit goes for the jugular, not the jocular, and it's the opposite of football; instead of building character, it tears it down.

  • The witty woman is a tragic figure in American life. Wit destroys eroticism and eroticism destroys wit, so women must choose between taking lovers and taking no prisoners.

  • Your wit makes others witty.

    • Catherine the Great,
    • letter to Voltaire, in Samuel Arthur Bent, Short Sayings of Great Men: With Historical and Explanatory Notes ()
  • [To Sir Walter Raleigh on his introducing tobacco to Great Britain:] I have known many persons who turned their gold into smoke, but you are the first to turn smoke into gold.

    • Elizabeth I,
    • in James A. St. John, Life of Sir Walter Raleigh ()
  • One man's fish is another man's poisson.

  • A fool and his money are soon married.

  • [Of a bitterly satiric writer who died of poison:] Mon dieu! He must have been sucking on his pen.

  • [Of a woman wearing a lover's river of diamonds around her neck that hung quite low:] They are returning to their source.

  • ... there is not the least wit in my nature. I am a very matter of fact, plain spoken being, and may blunder on the borders of a repartee for half an hour together without striking it out.

  • ... wit is often its own worst enemy.

  • Wit is artificial; humor is natural. Wit is accidental; humor is inevitable. Wit is born of conscious effort; humor, of the allotted ironies of fate. Wit can be expressed only in language; humor can be developed sufficiently in situation.

  • Wit is the salt of conversation, not the food, and few things in the world are more wearying than a sarcastic attitude towards life.

  • Wit is a thing capable of proof.

  • Neatness of phrase is so closely akin to wit that it is often accepted as its substitute.

  • ... to the many, witticisms not only require to be explained, like riddles, but are also like new shoes, which people require to wear many times before they get accustomed to them.

  • It is a curious fact, but a fact it is, that your witty people are the most hard-hearted in the world. The truth is, fancy destroys feeling. The quick eye to the ridiculous turns every thing to the absurd side; and the neat sentence, the lively allusion, and the odd simile, invest what they touch with something of their own buoyant nature. Humor is of the heart, and has its tears; but wit is of the head, and has only smiles — and the majority of those are bitter.

  • Styles in wit change so.

  • [On wit:] ... those who actually possess this rare talent, cannot be too abstinent in the use of it. It often makes admirers, but it never makes friends; I mean, where it is the predominant feature ...

    • Hannah More,
    • "Thoughts on Conversation," Essays on Various Subjects ()
  • [When asked in her later years why her Paris apartment was located up so many flights of stairs:] Dear friend, it's the only way I can still make the hearts of men beat faster.

    • Sarah Bernhardt,
    • in Herman G. Weinberg, Saint Cinema: Selected Writings 1929-1970 ()
  • I fear nothing so much as a man who is witty all day long.

  • ... an optimist is the man who looks after your eyes, and the pessimist the person who looks after your feet.

  • ... Miss Milner had the quality peculiar to wits, to speak the thought that first occurs, which thought has generally truth on its side.

  • A flash of wit, like a flash of lightning, can only be remembered, it cannot be reproduced.

  • Society forgives a good deal to the people who are good enough to afford them a laugh now and then.

  • Wit is a dangerous talent in friendship.

    • Ninon de Lenclos,
    • in Mrs. Griffith, trans., The Memoirs of Ninon de L'Enclos, vol. 1 ()
  • Wit lies in recognizing the resemblance among things which differ and the difference between things which are alike.

  • Women who are not living ought to spend all their time cracking jokes. In a rotten society women grow witty; making a heaven while they wait.

  • Witticisms are fire-arms, that make a noise and give pain ...

    • Eugénie de Guérin,
    • letter (1833), in Guillaume S. Trébutien, ed., Letters of Eugénie de Guérin ()
  • [To an elderly scientist who had bored her by talking interminably about the social organization of ants, which have 'their own police force and their own army':] No navy, I suppose.

  • The wages of Gin is Debt.

    • Ethel Watts Mumford,
    • in Oliver Herford, Ethel Watts Mumford, and Addison Mizner, The Complete Cynic ()
  • Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder.

    • Ethel Watts Mumford,
    • in Oliver Herford, Ethel Watts Mumford, and Addison Mizner, The Complete Cynic ()
  • Where there is a will there's a law suit.

    • Ethel Watts Mumford,
    • in Oliver Herford, Ethel Watts Mumford, and Addison Mizner, The Complete Cynic ()
  • Life Insurance Motto — Robbing the widows early and orphan.

    • Ethel Watts Mumford,
    • in Oliver Herford, Ethel Watts Mumford, and Addison Mizner, The Complete Cynic ()
  • [To Jean Harlow, who repeatedly mispronounced her first name:] No, no, Jean. The t is silent, as in Harlow.

  • Too much brilliance has its disadvantages, and misplaced wit may raise a laugh, but often beheads a topic of profound interest.

  • A funny person is funny only for so long, but a wit can sit down and go on being spellbinding forever.

  • Wit is the key, I think, to anybody's heart. Show me the person who doesn't like to laugh and I'll show you a person with a toe tag.

  • ... nothing is so pleasant ... as to display your worldly wisdom in epigram and dissertation, but it is a trifle tedious to hear another person display theirs.

  • I think that perhaps it is impossible to be a wit without also being essentially, deeply, and tragically, a melancholy person.

  • Wit penetrates; humor envelops. Wit is a function of verbal intelligence; humor is imagination operating on good nature.

  • [On a dull party:] It was a fête worse than death.

  • [When criticized for appearing bare-shouldered Madonna-like at a banquet:] A comparison between Madonna and me is a comparison between a strapless evening gown and a gownless evening strap.

    • Kim Campbell,
    • in Robert Fife, Kim Campbell: The Making of a Politician ()
  • The shortest distance between two points is under construction.

  • ... don't try for wit. Settle for humor. You'll last longer.

  • Nothing is so fatiguing as the life of a wit ...

    • Hester Lynch Piozzi,
    • 1778, in Fanny Burney, Diary and Letters of Madame D'Arblay, vol. 1 ()
  • ... wit, wit! — I look upon it always as a draught of air; it cools indeed, but one gets a stiff neck from it.

  • [To the man who came up to her at a party and exclaimed effusively, 'Tallulah! I haven't seen you for 41 years!':] I thought I told you to wait in the car.

  • [On being asked in her later years if she were Tallulah:] I'm what's left of her, dahling.

  • Wit happens.

    • Karyn Buxman,
    • video title, in Who's Who in American Nursing ()
  • The troublesome ones in a family are usually either the wits or the idiots.