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Do not oppress the orphans and do not reject the beggars. - Quran.
The real beggar is indeed the true and only king. - Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Begging (or, in old-fashioned terms, beggary) is to entreat earnestly, implore, or supplicate. It often occurs for the purpose of securing a material benefit, generally for a gift, donation or charitable donation. When done in the context of a public place, it is known as "panhandling", perhaps because the hand and arm are extended like the handle of a cooking implement, and not infrequently, a kitchen implement such as a pot or cup may be used.


  • BEG, v. To ask for something with an earnestness proportioned to the belief that it will not be given.
    • Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
  • BEGGAR, n. One who has relied on the assistance of his friends.
    • Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
  • Homer himself must beg if he want means, and as by report sometimes he did "go from door to door and sing ballads, with a company of boys about him."
    • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Part I, Section II. Mem. 4. Subsect. 6.
  • Set a beggar on horseback, and he will ride a gallop.
    • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Part II, Section III. Memb. 2.
  • Never stand begging for that which you have the power to earn.
    • Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605-1615), Part I, Section XXI
    • Idiomatic. Line: "No pidas de grado lo que puedes tomar por fuerza." Literal translation: "Never ask for what you can take by force".
  • It is an affirmative command to give tzedaka to the poor of Israel. ... Anyone who sees a poor man begging alms and turns away his glance from him and does not give him tzedaka transgresses a negative command, as it is said, "You shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand to your needy brother" (Deuteronomy 15:7).
    • Shlomo Ganzfried as translated by George Horowith in The Spirit of the Jewish Law (New York: 1953)
  • Be they wynners or loosers,…beggers should be no choosers.
    • John Heywood's Proverbs and Epigrams (1562 ed.)
  • A shamefaced man makes a bad beggar.
    • Homer, The Odyssey (8th century BC), chapter XVII, line 78.
  • A man may be reputed an able man this year, and yet be a beggar the next; it is a misfortune that happens to many men, and his former reputation will signify nothing.
  • Beggars are a sure indicator that there are no Christians, or else very few and dispirited ones, in any town in which beggars are seen.
    • Andreas Karlstadt, On the Removal of Images (1522), On the Removal of Images (1522), p. 120
  • He once begged alms of a statue, and, when asked why he did so, replied, "To get practice in being refused."
  • Borgen ist nicht viel besser als betteln.
  • Der wahre Bettler ist
    Doch einzig und allein der wahre König.
  • My eye no longer wells up at the shame of those who beg; my hand became too hard for the trembling of filled hands.
    Where have the tears of my eye and the down of my heart gone? Oh loneliness of all bestowers! Oh muteness of all who shine!
    Many suns revolve in desolate space. To everything that is dark they speak with their light – to me they are mute.
    Oh this is the enmity of light toward that which shines; mercilessly it goes its orbit.
    Unjust in its deepest heart toward that which shines: cold toward suns – thus every sun goes.
    Like a storm the suns fly their orbit, that is their motion. They follow their inexorable will; that is their coldness.
    Oh it is you only, you dark ones, you nocturnal ones, who create warmth out of that which shines! Oh it is you only who drink milk and refreshment from the udders of light!
    Alas, ice surrounds me, my hand burns itself on iciness! Alas, there is thirst in me that yearns for your thirst!
  • Do not oppress the orphans and do not reject the beggars.
  • Well, whiles I am a beggar I will rail
    And say, there is no sin but to be rich;
    And being rich, my virtue then shall be
    To say, there is no vice but beggary.
  • I see, Sir, you are liberal in offers:
    You taught me first to beg; and now, methinks,
    You teach me how a beggar should be answer'd.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 64-65.
  • I'd just as soon be a beggar as king,
    And the reason I'll tell you for why;
    A king cannot swagger, nor drink like a beggar,
    Nor be half so happy as I.
    * * * * *
    Let the back and side go bare.
    • Old English Folk Song. In Cecil Sharpe's Folk Songs from Somerset.
  • Set a beggar on horse backe, they saie, and hee will neuer alight.
    • Robert Greene, Card of Fancie. Heywood—Dialogue. Claudianus—Eutropium. I. 181. Shakespeare—True Tragedy of Richard, Duke of York, scene 3. Henry VI, IV. 1. Ben Jonson—Staple of News, Act IV. See also collection of same in Bebel—Proverbia Germanica, Suringar's ed. (1879). No. 537.
  • To get thine ends, lay bashfulnesse aside;
    Who feares to aske, doth teach to be deny'd.
  • Mieux vaut goujat debout qu'empereur enterré.
  • A beggar through the world am I,
    From place to place I wander by.
    Fill up my pilgrim's scrip for me,
    For Christ's sweet sake and charity.
  • A pampered menial drove me from the door.
    • Thomas Moss, The Beggar. (Altered by Goldsmith from "A Liveried Servant," etc.).
  • It is better for any of you to carry a load of firewood on his own back than to beg from someone else.
  • Qui timide rogat,
    Docet negare.

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