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Mistakes (or errors) are avoidable occurances wherein a person unintentionally does something that causes an unfortunate result.
- Vietnam was worse than immoral — it was a mistake.
- Dean Acheson, reported in Alistair Cooke, Letter from America: 1946-2004 (2004), p. 378. Sometimes errantly reported in the present tense, e.g. "It is worse than immoral, it's a mistake".
- Lack of recent information is responsible for more mistakes of judgment than erroneous reasoning.
- The truth is perilous never to the true,
Nor knowledge to the wise; and to the fool,
And to the false, error and truth alike,
Error is worse than ignorance.
- Philip James Bailey, Festus (1813), scene A Mountain Sunrise.
- Have too rashly charged the troops of error and remain as trophies unto the enemies of truth.
- Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici (1642), Part I, Section VI.
- Every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied.
- Pearl S. Buck, What America Means to Me (1943).
- We learn a lot from the mistakes of others, but even more from our own.
- Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Quotes we cherish. Quotations from Fausto Cercignani, 2013, p. 9.
- The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.
- G. K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News (1924-04-19).
- A man looking at a hippopotamus may sometimes be tempted to regard a hippopotamus as an enormous mistake; but he is also bound to confess that a fortunate inferiority prevents him personally from making such mistakes.
- G. K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens, Chapter 10, "The Great Dickens Characters".
- Let go the lure
The striving to unmake;
Behold the truth
Whenever heart may ache
There is a glory
In a great mistake.
- Nathalia Crane, "Imperfection", Swear By the Night and Other Poems (1936).
- Other kings let their ministers make their mistakes for them, but Louis insisted on making the important mistakes personally.
- Will Cuppy, The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody (1950), Part IV: A Few Greats, Louis XIV.
- Hell, that's why they make erasers.
- Clarence Darrow, reported in Irving Stone, Clarence Darrow for the Defense (1941), p. 75.
- For my errors loom over my head;
- Like a heavy burden, they are too much for me to bear.
- My wounds stink and fester
- Because of my foolishness.
- I am distressed and extremely downcast;
- I walk around sad all day long.
- It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data.
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Scandal in Bohemia.
- Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it's a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.
- Al Franken, Oh, the Things I Know (2003).
- America is a mistake, admittedly a gigantic mistake, but a mistake nevertheless.
- Sigmund Freud, to Ernest Jones ("Amerika ist ein Fehler, zugegeben ein gigantischer Fehler, aber nichtsdestotrotz ein Fehler").
- The state sometimes makes mistakes. When one of these mistakes occurs, a decline in collective enthusiasm is reflected by a resulting quantitative decrease of the contribution of each individual, each of the elements forming the whole of the masses. Work is so paralysed that insignificant quantities are produced. It is time to make a correction.
- Che Guevara, Man and Socialism in Cuba (1965).
- My heartache, is my mistake you see.
- Ed Harcourt, "God Protect Your Soul", Here Be Monsters (2001).
- No mans error becomes his own Law; nor obliges him to persist in it.
- Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1950), part 2, p. 237.
- She had an unequalled gift, especially pen in hand, of squeezing big mistakes into small opportunities.
- Mistakes are the inevitable lot of mankind.
- Sir George Jessel, In re Taylor's Estate (1882) 22 Ch.D. 495, 503.
- A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals to discovery.
- Only while sleeping one makes no mistakes. Making mistakes is the privilege of the active—of those who can correct their mistakes and put them right.
- Every irregularity is not erroneous.
- Lord Kenyon, C.J., Jackson v. Hunter (1794), 6 T. R. 74; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 107.
- Everyone thinks I'm a smart arse who can solve any bloody problem. I'm not. I'm just a very old businessman and a very experienced businessman who made every mistake in the book and can recognise one when I see one.
- Sir John Harvey-Jones (1924-2008), British businessman. Article on his life in The Telegraph (UK) newspaper, 10th Jan 2008.
- After it is all over, as stupid a fellow as I am can see that mistakes were made. I notice, however, that my mistakes are never told me until it is too late.
- Robert E. Lee, quoted in Randall Bedwell's May I Quote You General Lee? (New York: Gramercy Books, 2002), p. 63.
- Sometimes we may learn more from a man's errors than from his virtues.
- If errors were what you watch, O Jah,
- Then who, O Jehovah, could stand?
- For with you there is true forgiveness,
- So that you may be held in awe.
- I hope in Jehovah, my whole being hopes in him; I wait for his word.
- Any military commander who is honest with himself, or with those he's speaking to, will admit that he has made mistakes in the application of military power. He's killed people unnecessarily — his own troops or other troops — through mistakes, through errors of judgment. A hundred, or thousands, or tens of thousands, maybe even a hundred thousand. But, he hasn't destroyed nations. And the conventional wisdom is don't make the same mistake twice, learn from your mistakes. And we all do. Maybe we make the same mistake three times, but hopefully not four or five. They'll be no learning period with nuclear weapons. You make one mistake and you're going to destroy nations.
- Those who make no mistakes are making the biggest mistakes of all — they are attempting nothing new.
- Anthony de Mello, One Minute Nonsense (1992), p. 20.
- The important thing in my view is not to pin the blame for a mistake on somebody, but rather to find out what caused the mistake.
- Akio Morita (b.1921). Made in Japan, (1987), p. 149.
- It is better for a leader to make a mistake in forgiving than to make a mistake in punishing.
- Muhammad, Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1011.
- Some positive persisting fops we know,
Who, if once wrong, will needs be always so;
But you with pleasure own your errors past,
And make each day a critique on the last.
- The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.
- John Powell, The Secret of Staying in Love (1990), p. 85.
- When people once are in the wrong,
Each line they add is much too long;
Who fastest walks, but walks astray,
Is only furthest from his way.
- Matthew Prior, Alma(1718), Canto III, line 194.
- And certainly it was not wrong to try to secure freedom for our citizens held in barbaric captivity. But we did not achieve what we wished, and serious mistakes were made in trying to do so. We will get to the bottom of this, and I will take whatever action is called for.
- Ronald Reagan, Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on the State of the Union, January 27th, 1987.
- Life, like war, is a series of mistakes; and he is not the best Christian nor the best general who makes the fewest false steps. Poor mediocrity may secure that; but he is the best who wins the most splendid victories by the retrieval of mistakes. Forget mistakes; organize victory out of mistakes.
- Frederick William Robertson, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 117.
- There are two kinds of mistakes. There are fatal mistakes that destroy a theory; but there are also contingent ones, which are useful in testing the stability of a theory.
- Gian-Carlo Rota (with Fabrizio Palombi), Indiscrete Thoughts (1997), p. 202.
- In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.
- How far your eyes may pierce, I cannot tell;
Striving to better, oft we mar what's well.
- Purposes mistook
Fall'n on the inventors' heads.
- The error of our eye directs our mind:
What error leads must err.
- We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.
- Samuel Smiles, 19th C Scottish author and reformer. 'Self-Culture: facilities and Difficulties', Self-Help (1856), Ch 11.
- It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes. It may even lie on the surface; but we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions — especially selfish ones.
- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, "Peace and Violence" (1973).
- They say we learn from mistakes,
that's why they mistake me.
- There is no mistake; there has been no mistake; and there shall be no mistake.
- Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, Wellingtoniana (1832).
- Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
- The physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.
- Frank Lloyd Wright, New York Times Magazine (4 October 1953); sometimes paraphrased as "A doctor" in place of "The physician".
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 236-37.
- Mistake, error, is the discipline through which we advance.
- William Ellery Channing, Address on The Present Age.
- Errare mehercule malo cum Platone, quem tu quanti facias, scio quam cum istis vera sentire.
- By Hercules! I prefer to err with Plato, whom I know how much you value, than to be right in the company of such men.
- Cicero, Tusculanarum Disputationum, I, 17.
- The cautious seldom err.
- Confucius, Analects, Book IV, Chapter XXIII.
- Man on the dubious waves of error toss'd.
- William Cowper, Poem on Truth, line 1.
- Errors, like straws, upon the surface flow;
He who would search for pearls, must dive below.
- John Dryden, All for Love, Prologue.
- Brother, brother; we are both in the wrong.
- John Gay, Beggar's Opera, Act II, scene 2.
- Es giebt Menschen die gar nicht irren, weil sie sich nichts Vernünftiges vorsetzen.
- There are men who never err, because they never propose anything rational.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Sprüche in Prosa, III.
- Es irrt der Mensch so lang er strebt.
- Ille sinistrorsum hic dextrorsum abit, unus utrique
Error, sed variis illudit partibus.
- One goes to the right, the other to the left; both are wrong, but in different directions.
- Horace, Satires, II. 3. 50.
- Dark Error's other hidden side is truth.
- Victor Hugo, La Légende des Siècles.
- Quand tout le monde a tort, tout le monde a raison.
- When every one is in the wrong, every one is in the right.
- Pierre-Claude Nivelle de La Chaussée, La Gouvernante, I, 3.
- Knowledge being to be had only of visible and certain truth, error is not a fault of our knowledge, but a mistake of our judgment, giving assent to that which is not true.
- John Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Book IV, Of Wrong Assent or Error, Chapter XX.
- Errare humanus est.
- To err is human.
- Melchior de Polinac, Anti-Lucretius, V, 58. Gilbertus Cognatus, Adagia. Seneca the Younger, Book IV. Declam. 3. Agam, 267. Other forms of same found in Demosthenes, De Corona, V, IX. Euripides, Hippolytus, 615. Homer, Iliad, IX. 496. Lucan, Demon., 7. Marcus Antoninus, IX. 11. Menander, Fragments, 499. Plautus, Merc., II. 2. 48. Severus of Antioch, Epigram I, 20. Sophocles, Antigone, 1023. Theognis. V. 327. Humanum fuit errare, Stanza Augustine, Sermon 164, 14. …possum falli, ut homo. Cicero—Ad Atticum., XIII. 21. 5. Cujusvis hominis est errare, nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare. Cicero, Phillipics, XII. 2. 5. (Same idea in his De Invent., II. 3. 9). Erasse humanus est, Stanza Jerome, Epistolæ, LVII. 12. Also in Adv. Ruf., III. 33. 36. Nemo nostrum non peccat. Homines sumus, non dei. Petronius—Satyricon, Chapter 75, Chapter 130. Decipi … humanus est. Plutarch. Stephanus's ed, Chapter XXXI. Per humanes, inquit, errotes. Seneca, Rhetoric. Excerpta ex Controversiis, IV, III. Censen hominem me esse? erravi. Terence, Adelphi, IV, II. 40.
- Les plus courtes erreurs sont toujours les meilleures.
- The smallest errors are always the best.
- Molière, L'Etourdi, IV. 4.
- The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.
- Edward John Phelps, speech at Mansion House, London (Jan. 24, 1889), quoting Bishop W. C. Magee of Peterborough, in 1868.
- For to err in opinion, though it be not the part of wise men, is at least human.
- Plutarch, Morals, Against Colotes the Epicurean.
- In science it often happens that scientists say, "You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken," and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.
- Carl Sagan (1987) Keynote address at CSICOP conference, as quoted in Do Science and the Bible Conflict? (2003) by Judson Poling, p. 30
- Shall error in the round of time
Still father Truth?
- Alfred Tennyson, Love and Duty.
- The progress of rivers to the ocean is not so rapid as that of man to error.
- Voltaire, Dictionnaire philosophique portatif ("A Philosophical Dictionary") (1764), Rivers.
The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904)
- Quotes reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 176.
- There have been errors in the administration of the most enlightened men.
- Lord Ellenborough, Rex v. Lambert and Perry (1810), 2 Camp. 405.
- Mistakes are the inevitable lot of mankind.
- Jessel, M.R., In re Taylor's Estate; Tomlin v. Underhay (1882), L. R. 22 C. D. (1883), p. 503.
- A mistake, as it seems to me, is none the less a mistake because it is made deliberately in the pursuance of a mistaken intention.
- Lord Russell of Killowen, C.J., Linforth v. Butler (1898), L. R. 1 Q. B. D. 120.
- I know but of one Being to whom error may not be imputed.
- Lord Ellenborough, Rex v. Lambert and Perry (1810), 2 Camp. 402.