Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. If make a purchase through these links, we receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure for more info.
Samuel Clemens, better know by his pen-name Mark Twain, was an American writer, publisher, humorist, entrepreneur, and lecturer.
Raised in Hannibal, Missouri, Twain has been hailed as “the father of American literature.”
He is perhaps best known for his humorous writings and lectures, on a variety of topics from politics and religion, to classical literature, education, and love.
Twain’s best known novels are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Published in 1884, Huck Finn is a quintessential American novel that remains on school reading lists today.
Mark Twain’s wit and satire earned him criticism and also a great deal of praise.
Accordingly, he became a friend to Presidents, businessmen, artists, and members of European royal families.
His enormous success as a writer and speaker earned him a considerable sum of money, but Twain invested in a series of risky ventures before eventually filing for bankruptcy.
Twain was born in November 1835, shortly after Halley’s Comet appeared in the sky. He predicted that he would “go out with it, too” and he was right… he died the day after it reappeared in the sky in April 1910.
His insights on all kinds of topics continue to fascinate and inspire us today, so we hope you’ll enjoy this amazing selection of Mark Twain quotes.
200+ Mark Twain Quotes
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).
A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.
December is the toughest month of the year. Others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, October, August, and February.
I was sorry to have my name mentioned as one of the great authors, because they have a sad habit of dying off. Chaucer is dead, Spencer is dead, so is Milton, so is Shakespeare, and I’m not feeling so well myself.Mark Twain’s Speeches
Anyone who can only think of one way to spell a word obviously lacks imagination.
The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.
Man was made at the end of the week’s work when God was tired.
The only difference between reality and fiction is that fiction needs to be credible.
Ah, if he could only die temporarily!The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
Nothing exists; all is a dream. God—man—the world—the sun, the moon, the wilderness of stars—a dream, all a dream; they have no existence. Nothing exists save empty space—and you!The Mysterious Stranger
I do not like work even when someone else is doing it.
Just when I thought I was learning how to live, ’twas then I realized I was learning how to die.
Let us not be too particular. It is better to have old second-hand diamonds than none at all.
Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.
I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.
I was born lazy. I am no lazier now than I was forty years ago, but that is because I reached the limit forty years ago. You can’t go beyond possibility.
I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel they have not said enough.
Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.
It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
It’s not the good that die young, it’s the lucky.
He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it, namely, that, in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain.
If a person offends you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance, and hit him with a brick.
Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And hain’t that a big enough majority in any town?The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
When ill luck begins, it does not come in sprinkles, but in showers.
The proper office of a friend is to side with you when you are in the wrong. Nearly anybody will side with you when you are in the right.
Necessity is the mother of taking chances.
To believe yourself brave is to be brave; it is the one only essential thing.Joan of Arc
If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.
Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.
I don’t like to commit myself about Heaven and Hell, you see, I have friends in both places.
All I care to know about a man is that he is a human being… he can’t be any worse.
One should never use exclamation points in writing. It is like laughing at your own joke.
Be careless in your dress if you must, but keep a tidy soul.
He was sunshine most always-I mean he made it seem like good weather.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail. The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell together, as quickly as possible.
Human pride is not worthwhile; there is always something lying in wait to take the wind out of it.
Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.
If everyone was satisfied with himself, there would be no heroes.
I think that to one in sympathy with nature, each season, in turn, seems the loveliest.
There are three things men can do with women: love them, suffer them, or turn them into literature.
How little a thing can make us happy when we feel that we have earned it.The Diaries of Adam & Eve
The source of all humor is not laughter, but sorrow.
The difference between a Miracle and a Fact is exactly the difference between a mermaid and a seal.Letters from The Earth
A man’s character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation.
If we would learn what the human race really is at bottom, we need only observe it in election times.
Good breeding consists of concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.
High and fine literature is wine, and mine is only water; but everybody likes water.
You can’t reason with your heart; it has its own laws, and thumps about things which the intellect scorns.A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.
Explaining humor is a lot like dissecting a frog, you learn a lot in the process, but in the end you kill it.
Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed down-stairs one step at a time.
There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice.
When in doubt tell the truth. It will confound your enemies and astound your friends.
The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.
Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.
To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.
It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.
When angry, count four. When very angry, swear.
Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.
One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.
The more things are forbidden, the more popular they become.
Never be haughty to the humble, never be humble to the haughty.
Use the right word, not its second cousin.
Give a man a reputation as an early riser and he can sleep ’til noon.
When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.
The trouble is not in dying for a friend, but in finding a friend worth dying for.
The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.The Innocents Abroad
The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.
Out of all the things I have lost, I miss my mind the most.
I must have a prodigious amount of mind; it takes me as much as a week, sometimes, to make it up!
Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.
Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it.
Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.
The most interesting information come from children, for they tell all they know and then stop.
Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind and astound the other.
Education: the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty.
Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
The easy confidence with which I know another man’s religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.
If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.
A clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory.
You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, burning bushes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help?
History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.
If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.
The less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it.The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language.The Innocents Abroad
Right is right, and wrong is wrong, and a body ain’t got no business doing wrong when he ain’t ignorant and knows better.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
A gentleman is someone who knows how to play the banjo and doesn’t.
There is nothing so annoying as having two people talking when you’re busy interrupting.
The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out, the conservative adopt.
I couldn’t bear to think about it; and yet, somehow, I couldn’t think about nothing else.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.
Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.
Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.
All right, then, I’ll go to hell.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.
It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them.
Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.
April 1. This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four.Puddn’head Wilson and Other Tales
After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her.Diaries of Adam & Eve
I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.Tom Sawyer Abroad
The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.
I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.
I have a higher and grander standard of principle than George Washington. He could not lie; I can, but I won’t.
All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.
Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.
Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.
Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.
Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.
The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.
But who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most?
In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.
The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.
I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn’t know.
Human beings can be awful cruel to one another.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
It is easier to stay out than to get out.
Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with.
When red-headed people are above a certain social grade their hair is auburn.
Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.
The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.
It takes your enemy and your friend, working together, to hurt you to the heart: the one to slander you and the other to get the news to you.
There’s one way to find out if a man is honest: ask him; if he says yes, you know he’s crooked.
It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.
Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made school boards.Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World
Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts or happenings. It consist mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever flowing through one’s head.
A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it.
It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.
Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.
Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.Life on the Mississippi
I did not attend his funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.
Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.
Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.
The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.
Be good and you will be lonesome.Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World
Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?
Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
The man who is a pessimist before 48 knows too much; if he is an optimist after it he knows too little.
Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.
When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain.Notebook
A person that started in to carry a cat home by the tail was getting knowledge that was always going to be useful to him, and warn’t ever going to grow dim or doubtful.Tom Sawyer Abroad
Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it.
When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it.
Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed.
That is just the way with some people. They get down on a thing when they don’t know nothing about it.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.
Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination.
If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.
Familiarity breeds contempt and children.
Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.
Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.
It’s easy to make friends, but hard to get rid of them.
Be respectful to your superiors, if you have any.The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain
Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.The Mysterious Stranger and Other Curious Tales
The older I get, the more clearly I remember things that never happened.
There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man’s notion that he is less savage than the other savages.Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World
Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.Puddn’head Wilson and Other Tales
There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy.
Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.
The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.
There isn’t time, so brief is life, for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that.
Write without pay until somebody offers to pay.
My books are water; those of the great geniuses is wine. Everybody drinks water.Notebook
If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.
Name the greatest of all inventors. Accident.
Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World
Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.
I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.
Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
What would men be without women? Scarce, sir…mighty scarce.
It is higher and nobler to be kind.
An honest politician is an oxymoron.
If you want me to give you a two-hour presentation, I am ready today. If you want only a five-minute speech, it will take me two weeks to prepare.
Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this amazing collection of Mark Twain quotes, showcasing his timeless humor, wit, and wisdom. If we left out your favorite, just let us know.