Foolishness is the lack of wisdom. In this sense it differs from stupidity, which is the lack of intelligence. An act of foolishness is sometimes referred to as a folly, and people who do it a lot may be called Fools.
- The first Degree of Folly, is to conceit one’s self wise; the second to profess it; the third to despise Counsel.
- The philosophies of one age have become the absurdities of the next, and the foolishness of yesterday has become the wisdom of tomorrow.
- William Osler, address to the Canadian Medical Association, Montreal (17 September 1902); published in The Montreal Medical Journal, Vol. XXXI (1902).
- To swallow gudgeons ere they're catch'd,
And count their chickens ere they're hatch'd.
- Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part II (1664), Canto III, line 923.
- Fools are my theme, let satire be my song.
- Lord Byron, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809), line 6.
- More knave than fool.
- Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605-15), Part I, Book IV, Chapter 2.
- A fool must now and then be right by chance.
- William Cowper, Conversation (1782), line 96.
- The solemn fog; significant and budge;
A fool with judges, amongst fools a judge.
- William Cowper, Conversation (1782), line 299.
- Defend me, therefore, common sense, say
From reveries so airy, from the toil
Of dropping buckets into empty wells,
And growing old in drawing nothing up.
- William Cowper, The Task (1785), Book III, line 187.
- A fool and a wise man are alike both in the starting-place—their birth, and at the post—their death; only they differ in the race of their lives.
- Thomas Fuller, The Holy State and the Prophane State (1642), Of Natural Fools, Maxim IV.
- The right to be a cussed fool
Is safe from all devices human,
It's common (ez a gin'l rule)
To every critter born of woman.
- James Russell Lowell, The Biglow Papers (1848), Second Series. No. 7, Stanza 16.
- The rest on outside merit but presume,
Or serve (like other fools) to fill a room.
- So by false learning is good sense defac'd;
Some are bewilder'd in the maze of schools,
And some made coxcombs Nature meant but fools.
- We think our fathers fools, so wise we grow;
Our wiser sons, no doubt, will think us so.
- For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
- The fool is happy that he knows no more.
- Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man (1733-34), Epistle II, line 264.
- Whether the charmer sinner it, or saint it,
If folly grow romantic, I must paint it.
- Alexander Pope, Moral Essays (1731-35), Epistle II, line 15.
- Die and endow a college or a cat.
- Alexander Pope, Moral Essays (1731-35), Epistle III. To Bathurst, line 96.
- Sir, for a quart d'écu he will sell the fee-simple of his salvation, the inheritance of it; and cut the entail from all remainders.
- A fool, a fool! I met a fool i' the forest,
A motley fool; a miserable world!
As I do live by food, I met a fool;
Who laid him down and bask'd him in the sun.
- O noble fool!
A worthy fool! Motley's the only wear.
- I had rather have a fool to make me merry than experience to make me sad: and to travel for it too!
- The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
- Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool nowhere but in 's own house.
- Well, thus we play the fools with the time, and the spirits of the wise sit in the clouds and mock us.
- How ill white hairs become a fool and jester!
- The fool hath planted in his memory
An army of good words; and I do know
A many fools, that stand in better place,
Garnish'd like him, that for a tricksy word
Defy the matter.
- Lord, what fools these mortals be!
- To wisdom he's a fool that will not yield.
- This fellow is wise enough to play the fool;
And to do that well craves a kind of wit.
- Marry, sir, they praise me and make an ass of me; now my foes tell me plainly I am an ass; so that by my foes, sir, I profit in the knowledge of myself.
- I hold him but a fool that will endanger
His body for a girl that loves him not.
- You may as well
Forbid the sea for to obey the moon
As or by oath remove or counsel shake
The fabric of his folly.
- For take thy ballaunce if thou be so wise,
And weigh the winde that under heaven doth blow;
Or weigh the light that in the east doth rise;
Or weigh the thought that from man's mind doth flow.
- Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (1589-96), Book V, Canto II, Stanza 43.
- Be wise with speed;
A fool at forty is a fool indeed.
- Edward Young, Love of Fame (1725-28), Satire II, line 281.
- At thirty man suspects himself a fool;
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan.
- Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night I, line 417.
- To climb life's worn, heavy wheel
Which draws up nothing new.
- Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night III.
- Men may live fools, but fools they cannot die.
- Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night IV. Last line.
- We bleed, we tremble; we forget, we smile—
The mind turns fool, before the cheek is dry.
- Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night V, line 511.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 283-85.
- The folly of one man is the fortune of another.
- Francis Bacon, Of Fortune.
- Un sot trouve toujours un plus sot qui l'admire.
- A fool always finds one still more foolish to admire him.
- Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux, L'Art Poétique (1674), I, 232.
- Fool me no fools.
- Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Last Days of Pompeii, Book III, Chapter 6.
- Folly loves the martyrdom of Fame.
- Lord Byron, Monody on the Death of the Right Hon. R. B. Sheridan, line 68.
- Mas acompañados y paniguados debe di tener la locura que la discrecion.
- Young men think old men are fools; but old men know young men are fools.
- George Chapman, All Fools, Act V, scene 1, line 292.
- Les plus courtes folies sont les meilleures.
- The shortest follies are the best.
- Pierre Charron, Las Sagesse, Book I, Chapter 3.
- Fool beckons fool, and dunce awakens dunce.
- Charles Churchill, Apology, line 42.
- Stultorum plena sunt omnia.
- All places are filled with fools.
- Cicero, Epistles, IX. 22.
- Culpa enim illa, bis ad eundem, vulgari reprehensa proverbio est.
- To stumble twice against the same stone, is a proverbial disgrace.
- Cicero, Epistles, X. 20.
- Hain't we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain't that a big enough majority in any town?
- Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn, Chapter 26.
- L'exactitude est le sublime des sots.
- Exactness is the sublimity of fools.
- Attributed to Fontenelle, who disclaimed it.
- A rational reaction against irrational excesses and vagaries of skepticism may * * * readily degenerate into the rival folly of credulity.
- William Ewart Gladstone, Time and Place of Homer, Introductory.
- He is a fool
Who only sees the mischiefs that are past.
- Homer, The Iliad, Book XVII, line 39. Bryant's translation.
- Stultorum incurata malus pudor ulcera celat.
- The shame of fools conceals their open wounds.
- Horace, Epistles, I. 16. 24.
- Adde cruorem
Stultitiæ, atque ignem gladio scrutare.
- To your folly add bloodshed, and stir the fire with the sword.
- Horace, Satires, II. 3. 275.
- A man may be as much a fool from the want of sensibility as the want of sense.
- Mrs. Jameson, Studies, Detached Thoughts, p. 122.
- Fears of the brave and follies of the wise.
- Samuel Johnson, Vanity of Human Wishes.
- Un fat celui que les sots croient un homme de mérite.
- A fool is one whom simpletons believe to be a man of merit.
- Jean de La Bruyère, Les Caractères, XII.
- Hélas! on voit que de tout temps
Les Petits ont pâti des sottises des grands.
- Alas! we see that the small have always suffered for the follies of the great.
- Jean de La Fontaine, Fables, II. 4.
- Ce livre n'est pas long, on le voit en une heure;
La plus courte folie est toujours la meilleure.
- This book is not long, one may run over it in an hour; the shortest folly is always the best.
- La Girandière, Le Recueil des Voyeux Epigrammes.
- Qui vit sans folie n'est pas si sage qu'il croit.
- He who lives without committing any folly is not so wise as he thinks.
- François de La Rochefoucauld, Maximes, 209.
- Un sot n'a pas assez d'étoffe pour être bon.
- A fool has not material enough to be good.
- François de La Rochefoucauld, Maximes, 387.
- A fool! a fool! my coxcomb for a fool!
- John Marston, Parasitaster.
- I have play'd the fool, the gross fool, to believe
The bosom of a friend will hold a secret
Mine own could not contain.
- Philip Massinger, Unnatural Combat, Act V, scene 2.
- Young men think old men fools, and old men know young men to be so.
- Quoted by Camden as a saying of Dr. Metcalf.
- Quantum est in rebus inane!
How much folly there is in human affairs.
- Persius, Satires, I. 1.
- An old doting fool, with one foot already in the grave.
- Plutarch, Morals, On the Training of Children.
- No creature smarts so little as a fool.
- Alexander Pope, Prologue to Satires, line 84.
- Leave such to trifle with more grace and ease,
Whom Folly pleases, and whose Follies please.
- Alexander Pope, Second Book of Horace, Epistle II, line 326.
- Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise.
- Proverbs, XVII. 28.
- Every fool will be meddling.
- Proverbs, XX. 3.
- Answer a fool according to his folly.
- Proverbs, XXVI. 5.
- Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.
- Proverbs, XXVII. 22.
- The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.
- Psalms, XIV. 1; LIII. 1.
- Qui stultis videri eruditi volunt, stulti eruditis videntur.
- Those who wish to appear wise among fools, among the wise seem foolish.
- Quintilian, X. 7. 22.
- After a man has sown his wild oats in the years of his youth, he has still every year to get over a few weeks and days of folly.
- Jean Paul Richter, Flower, Fruit, and Thorn Pieces, Book II, Chapter V.
- Stultus est qui fructus magnarum arborum spectat, altitudinem non metitur.
- He is a fool who looks at the fruit of lofty trees, but does not measure their height.
- Quintus Curtius Rufus, De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni, VII, 8.
- Insipientis est dicere, Non putaram.
- Where lives the man that has not tried,
How mirth can into folly glide,
And folly into sin!
- Walter Scott, Bridal of Triermain, Canto I, Stanza 21.
- Inter cætera mala hoc quoque habet
Stultitia semper incipit vivere.
- Among other evils folly has also this, that it is always beginning to live.
- Seneca the Younger, Epistolæ Ad Lucilium, 13.
- 'Tis not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
'Tis by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.
- E. R. Sill, The Fool's Prayer.
- He has spent all his life in letting down empty buckets into empty wells, and he is frittering away his age in trying to draw them up again.
- Sydney Smith, Lady Holland's Memoir, Volume I, p. 259.
- 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.
- Chi conta i colpi e la dovuta offesa,
Mentr' arde la tenzon, misura e pesa?
- A fool is he that comes to preach or prate,
When men with swords their right and wrong debate.
- Torquato Tasso, Gerusalemme, V. 57.
- A fool is he that comes to preach or prate,
- Le sot est comme le peuple, qui se croit riche de peu.
- The fool is like those people who think themselves rich with little.
- Luc de Clapiers, Marquis de Vauvenargues, Réflexions, CCLX.
- Qui se croit sage, ô ciel! est un grand fou.
- He who thinks himself wise, O heavens! is a great fool.
- Voltaire, Le Droit du Seigneur, IV. 1.
- The greatest men
May ask a foolish question, now and then.
- John Wolcot, The Apple Dumpling and the King.