Invention is a term which refers to the activity of creating new forms, compositions of matter, devices, or processes, or to the products of this activity. Some inventions are based on pre-existing forms, compositions, processes or ideas. Other inventions are radical breakthroughs which may extend the boundaries of human knowledge or experience.
- A tool is but the extension of a man's hand, and a machine is but a complex tool. And he that invents a machine augments the power of a man and the well-being of mankind.
- Henry Ward Beecher, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit (1887), Business.
- Inventor: A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers and springs, and believes it civilization.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary.
- Originality is going back to the origin and finding an empty chair. Would you gladly sit on it? No thank you. It is empty for a reason. That’s where my ass was. Not where my head is now.
- Giannina Braschi, World Literature Today, 2012.
- Want, the mistress of invention.
- Susanna Centlivre, The Busy Body Act I, sc. 1.
- Invention is both the institution of problem solving and advancing human obsolescence. We were naturally selected to replace ourselves.
- Aaron Diaz, Twitter, February 4, 2010.
- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
- Dilbert, comic strip
- Only an inventor knows how to borrow, and every man is or should be an inventor.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims (1876), "Quotation and Originality".
- A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience.
- Thomas Fuller, The Holy State and the Profane State (1642), Book III, Of Fancy.
- Take the advice of a faithful friend, and submit thy inventions to his censure.
- Thomas Fuller, The Holy State and the Profane State (1642), Book III, Of Fancy.
- Everything that can be invented has been invented.
- Quoted in Lemon, et al., Mark (1899). "Punch's Almanack for 1899". Punch (magazine) 116 (17). (See also, Ecclesiastes 1:9 "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.") Anecdotally misattributed to Charles H. Duell, Commisioner, US Patent Office, 1899, see "A Patently False Patent Myth by Samuel Sass in Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 13 (Spring 1989), pg. 310-313.
- Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple of them and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.
- John Steinbeck, "Conversations with John Steinbeck", edited by Thomas Fensch (1988)
- Creativity perpetually invents itself.
- Paul Palnik Creative Consciousness. The Healthiest State of Mind, p. 36.
- All recognized famous inventors had capable predecessors and successors and made their improvements at a time when society was capable of using their product.
- Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, p. 245.
- Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos; the materials must, in the first place, be afforded: it can give form to dark, shapeless substances, but cannot bring into being the substance itself. In all matters of discovery and invention, even of those that appertain to the imagination, we are continually reminded of the story of Columbus and his egg. Invention consists in the capacity of seizing on the capabilities of a subject, and in the power of moulding and fashioning ideas suggested to it.
- This is a man's invention and his hand.
- We issued gorged with knowledge, and I spoke: 'Why, Sirs, they do all this as well as we." "They hunt old trails" said Cyril, "very well; But when did woman ever yet invent?'
- Lord Alfred Tennyson, The Princess (1847), II, l. 366.
- Someone told me that creativity is just learning to do something with a different perspective.
- Ben Carson, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. (p. 84)
- Necessity is the mother of invention.
- Early notable authors who used this proverb include Jonathan Swift, in Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World (1726), and Sir Walter Raleigh, in The History of the World (1614).
- Commonly misattributed to Plato from Benjamin Jowett's popular idiomatic translation (1871) of Plato's Republic, Book II, 369-c as "The true creator is necessity, who is the mother of our invention." Jowett himself (Plato's Republic: The Greek Text, Vol. III "Notes", 1894, p. 82) gives a literal translation of Plato as "our need will be the real creator," without the proverbial flourish.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations 
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 400.
- Se non è vere è ben trovato.
- It is not true, it is a happy invention.
- Giordano Bruno, Gli Froici Furori. Attributed erroneously to Cardinal d'Este. Quoted in Pasquier Recherces (1600) as "Si cela n'est vray, il est bien trouve".
- The golden hour of invention must terminate like other hours, and when the man of genius returns to the cares, the duties, the vexations, and the amusements of life, his companions behold him as one of themselves—the creature of habits and infirmities.
- Isaac D'Israeli, Literary Character of Men of Genius, Chapter XVI.
- God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.
- Ecclesiastes, VII, 29.
- Electric telegraphs, printing, gas,
Tobacco, balloons, and steam,
Are little events that have come to pass
Since the days of the old régime.
And, spite of Lemprière's dazzling page,
I'd give—though it might seem bold—
A hundred years of the Golden Age
For a year of the Age of Gold.
- Henry S. Leigh, The Two Ages.
- He had been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put in phials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in raw, inclement summers.
- Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels, Part III, Chapter V. Voyage to Laputa.
- All of the biggest technological inventions created by man - the airplane, the automobile, the computer - says little about his intelligence, but speaks volumes about his laziness.
- Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.
- Discovery consists in seeing what everybody has seen, and thinking what nobody has thought.
- Electric telegraphs, printing, gas, Tobacco, balloons, and steam, Are little events that have come to pass Since the days of the old regime. And, spite of Lempriere's dazzling page, I'd give--though it might seem bold--A hundred years of the Golden Age For a year of the Age of Gold.
- Henry S. Leigh, in The Two Ages.
- The golden hour of invention must terminate like other hours, and when the man of genius returns to the cares, the duties, the vexations, and the amusements of life, his companions behold him as one of themselves--the creature of habits and infirmities.
- Isaac D'Israeli, Literary Character of Men of Genius (ch. XVI).
- Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons.
- I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success.
- Nikola Tesla 1896, inventor of alternating current
- Invention is the mother of necessity.
- Thorstein Veblen US economist & social philosopher (1857 - 1929).
- It is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day's toil of any human being.
- Lo! Men have become the tools of their tools.
- Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.
- The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them.
- Antoine de Saint Exupéry Terre des Hommes (Wind, Sand, and Stars) (1939).
- Opportunity is missed by most people because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work.
- Probably the earliest flyswatters were nothing more than some sort of striking surface attached to the end of a long stick.
- The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people.
- Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation...tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.
- Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.
- Technology... the knack of so arranging the world that we don't have to experience it.
- What the country needs are a few labor-making inventions.
- Everything that could have been invented has been patented.
- The most amazing and effective inventions are not those which do most honor to the human genius.
- To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.
- Invention starts by a spark in the gap between laziness and exuberance.