The page includes 80 of the very best great Oscar Wilde quotes (see our take on the very best Oscar Wilde love quotes here).

Oscar Wilde was the toast of Victorian London. Not only was he the most popular playwright of West End theatreland, he was also a colourful and flamboyant man-about-London, welcomed everywhere for his amusing speeches and lectures. His novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, is one of the iconic novels of the late 19th century. His major plays The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Windermere’s Fan and An Ideal Husband are regularly performed and new films and television versions appear annually.

Wilde was born in Ireland and located to London in early adulthood, He is often referred to as an English writer and these days he is regarded as a national treasure in both countries. Shakespeare apart, he is, without doubt, the most quoted of writers in the English language. He had a unique mind – one that couldn’t help applying a cynical tongue to just about everything he saw and heard. And always amusing, while being thought-provoking.

Even on his deathbed, he couldn’t help it. As his life was ending in a cheap bed in a rundown French pension the poverty-stricken Wilde, according to friends attending his death, looked around the shabby room, and said: ‘My wallpaper and I are in a battle to the death, one or the other must go.’

Many of Oscar Wilde’s observations, taken from his writing and his reported conversations and speeches, have become common currency in the modern English language. Such quotes as, ‘I can resist everything except temptation’; ‘Work is the curse of the drinking class’; ‘There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about’, and the more sober, ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars’, have become common sayings.

With this in mind, here is our pick of 80 of the very best Oscar Wilde quotes:

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

The Picture of Dorian Gray

“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.”

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

The Importance of Being Earnest

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

“Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

“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.”

Oscar Wilde quote

“I am not young enough to know everything.”

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

“I can resist anything except temptation.”

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

The Picture of Dorian Gray

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

“It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.”

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Lady Windemere’s fan

“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.”

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

“Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us.”

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

A Woman of No Importance

“Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.”

Oscar Wilde quote

“Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more.”

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

The Importance of Being Earnest

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

Oscar Wilde quote

“The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.”

Oscar Wilde quote

“The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”

A Woman of No Importance

“The only good thing to do with good advice is pass it on; it is never of any use to oneself.”

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

The Importance of Being Earnest

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

The Picture of Dorian Gray

“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.

Lady Windemere’s fan

“There is no sin except stupidity.”

Intentions

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

The Picture of Dorian Gray

“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.

Oscar Wilde quote

“To define is to limit.”

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Lady Windemere’s fan

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

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

Oscar Wilde quote

“Work is the curse of the drinking classes.”

Oscar Wilde quote

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”

Oscar Wilde quote

What do you think of all of these Oscar Wilde quotes – any great one’s we’re missing? Let us know in the comments section below!

oscar wilde quute written on starry backgorund


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