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55 Witty & Inspiring Oscar Wilde Quotes

Oscar Wilde was arguably the finest wordsmith the English language has ever known. Outside of Shakespeare, nobody could ever turn a phrase like Oscar Wilde.

These Oscar Wilde quotes, from his various plays, stories, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and from his everyday life, all demonstrate that with boldness and clarity.

oscar wilde quotes

Wilde was known for his boundless wit and wisdom; his ability to express thoughtful, enlightening statements through a beautiful mastery of language.

It is almost impossible to praise Oscar Wilde’s use and command over the English language, and the ways in which he put those talents to use.

He taught as much as he entertained. He understood people on the deepest level, and these Oscar Wilde quotes show that every thought he ever had still resonates today.

Every isolated quote from Oscar Wilde can feel like a lesson or a way to feel inspired. Inspired to live, to create, to be yourself. He had such power and his expressed that power through words.

Enjoy these beautiful, wise, sometimes laugh-out-loud Oscar Wilde quotes for what they are: the best examples of the English language.

Read More: Beautiful Shakespeare Quotes

The Picture of Dorian Gray Quotes

Here is a selection of impeccable, hilarious, wise, and witty Oscar Wilde quotes taken from his one and only novel: The Picture of Dorian Gray, now heralded as one of the classics of the English language.

This is a gothic novel with an almost inexhaustible number of beautiful and quotable lines. We urge you to read it multiple times to soak up all of its humour and wisdom.

the picture of dorian gray

These Oscar Wilde quotes are but a taste of what the full novel has to offer.

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

“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.”

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

“To define is to limit.”

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

“Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.”

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

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

“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.”

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

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”

“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”

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

“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.”

“Religion is like a blind man looking in a black room for a black cat that isn’t there, and finding it.”

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

“Selfishness is not living your life as you wish to live it. Selfishness is wanting others to live their lives as you wish them to.”

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

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

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

“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.”

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

Buy a copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray here!

Oscar Wilde Quotes

These are Oscar Wilde quotes spoken by the writer himself. Wilde was known for expressing his wit and wisdom on the fly and out loud, as much as he was through letters and fiction.

oscar wilde

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

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

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”

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

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”

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

“I am not young enough to know everything.”

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.”

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

“Conformity is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”

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

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

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

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

“Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.”

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

“A good friend will always stab you in the front.”

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

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

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

“I can resist everything except temptation.”

“Everyone may not be good, but there’s always something good in everyone.”

Oscar Wilde’s Play Text & Short Story Quotes

These Oscar Wilde quotes all originate in the writer’s various fairy stories and beloved play texts, including the iconic The Importance of Being Earnest and Lady Windermere’s Fan.

As Wilde himself said about portraits being of the painter, not the sitter, the characters in his plays and stories spoke his wit and wisdom; they were vessels for his genius.

Read More: Iconic Jane Austen Quotes

the importance of being earnest

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

— Lady Windermere’s Fan

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

― Lady Windermere’s Fan

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

― The Importance of Being Earnest

“The very essence of romance is uncertainty.”

― The Importance of Being Earnest

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

― The Importance of Being Earnest

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

― The Importance of Being Earnest

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

― An Ideal Husband

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

― An Ideal Husband

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

— The Happy Prince

“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.”

― The Canterville Ghost

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