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An opinion is a person's ideas and thoughts towards something, rather than an actual confirmed fact. It is an assessment, judgment or evaluation of something.


  • Opinions derived from long experience are exceedingly valuable.
    • Peter Barlow, Second report addressed to the directors and proprietors of the London and Birmingham Railway company, founded on an inspection of, and experiments made on the Liverpool and Manchester railway. B. Fellowes. p. 4. (1835).
  • Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.
    • James Burgh, The Dignity of Human Nature, Sect. V: Miscellaneous Thoughts on Prudence in Conversation (1754).
  • He that complies against his will
    Is of his own opinion still.
  • He who would propagate an opinion must begin by making sure of his ground and holding it firmly. There is as little use in trying to breed from weak opinion as from other weak stock.
    • Samuel Butler, The Note-Books of Samuel Butler, Part X - The Position of a HomoUnius Libri, The Art of Propagating Opinion (1912).
  • The more unpopular an opinion is, the more necessary is it that the holder should be somewhat punctilious in his observance of conventionalities generally, and that, if possible, he should get the reputation of being well-to-do in the world.
    • Samuel Butler, The Note-Books of Samuel Butler, Part X - The Position of a HomoUnius Libri, The Art of Propagating Opinion (1912).
  • Many, if not most, good ideas die young - mainly from neglect on the part of the parents, but sometimes from over-fondness. Once well started, an opinion had better be left to shift for itself.
    • Samuel Butler, The Note-Books of Samuel Butler, Part X - The Position of a HomoUnius Libri, The Art of Propagating Opinion (1912).
  • For most men (till by losing rendered sager)
    Will back their own opinions by a wager.
  • We are complex, and therefore, in our natural state, inconsistent, beings, and the opinion of this hour need not be the opinion of the next.
  • The unfortunate Ladurlad did not desire the sleep that for ever fled his weary eyelids with more earnestness than most people seek the deep slumber of a decided opinion.
    • Arthur Helps, Thoughts in the Cloister and the Crowd (1835).
  • Pretend what we may, the whole man within us is at work when we form our philosophical opinions. Intellect, will, taste, and passion co-operate just as they do in practical affairs; and lucky it is if the passion be not something as petty as a love of personal conquest over the philosopher across the way.
  • I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.
  • But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.
    • Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address (March 4, 1801) — The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Andrew A. Lipscomb, vol. 3, p. 319 (1904).
  • Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.
  • It is very natural for young men to be vehement, acrimonious and severe. For as they seldom comprehend at once all the consequences of a position, or perceive the difficulties by which cooler and more experienced reasoners are restrained from confidence, they form their conclusions with great precipitance. Seeing nothing that can darken or embarrass the question, they expect to find their own opinion universally prevalent, and are inclined to impute uncertainty and hesitation to want of honesty, rather than of knowledge.
  • If then I am addressing one of that numerous class, who read to be told what to think, let me advise you to meddle with the book no further. You wish to buy a house ready furnished: do not come to look for it in a stonequarry. But if you are building up your opinions for yourself, and only want to be provided with materials, you may meet with many things in these pages to suit you.
  • It is an unpleasant thing to differ in opinion with the rest of one's species — it is making a sort of North Pole of one's own, and then setting out in search of it.
  • New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.
    • John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689).
  • This imputation of inconsistency is one to which every sound politician and every honest thinker must sooner or later subject himself. The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinion.
  • False opinions are like false money, struck first of all by guilty men and thereafter circulated by honest people who perpetuate the crime without knowing what they are doing.
  • If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.
  • The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.
  • To refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty. All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility. Its condemnation may be allowed to rest on this common argument, not the worse for being common.
  • The greater the man, the less is he opinionative, he depends upon events and circumstances.
  • Eigene Meinungen. - Die erste Meinung, welche uns einfällt, wenn wir plötzlich über eine Sache befragt werden, ist gewöhnlich nicht unsere eigene, sondern nur die landläufige, unserer Kaste, Stellung, Abkunft zugehörige; die eigenen Meinungen schwimmen selten oben auf.
    • Translation: Our own opinions. The first opinion that occurs to us when we are suddenly asked about a matter is usually not our own, but only the customary one, appropriate to our caste, position, or parentage; our own opinions seldom swim near the surface.
    • Friedrich Nietzsche, Menschliches, Allzumenschliches (Human, All Too Human), Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / excerpt from aphorism 571, translated by Helen Zimmern (1878).
  • Es ist nicht der Kampf der Meinungen, welcher die Geschichte so gewaltthätig gemacht hat, sondern der Kampf des Glaubens an die Meinungen, das heisst der Ueberzeugungen.
    • Translation: It is not the struggle of opinions that has made history so violent, but rather the struggle of belief in opinions, that is, the struggle of convictions.
    • Friedrich Nietzsche, Menschliches, Allzumenschliches (Human, All Too Human), Section IX, "Man Alone with Himself" / excerpt from aphorism 630, translated by Helen Zimmern (1878).
  • For to err in opinion, though it be not the part of wise men, is at least human.
  • It is more true to say that our opinions depend upon our lives and habits than to say that our lives depend upon our opinions, which is only now and then true.
  • Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
    • Bertrand Russell, Commandment 7 of "A Liberal Decalogue", from "The Best Answer to Fanaticism: Liberalism," The New York Times (1951-12-16); later printed in The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell (1969), vol. 3: 1944-1967, pp. 71-2.
  • Quot homines tot sententiae: suo quoque mos.
    As many opinions as there are men; each a law to himself.
    • Terence(c.195-159 BC), Phormio, 454.
  • In the United States, the majority undertakes to supply a multitude of ready-made opinions for the use of individuals, who are thus relieved from the necessity of forming opinions of their own.
  • One free man will say with truth what he thinks and feels amongst thousands of men who by their acts and words attest exactly the opposite. It would seem that he who sincerely expressed his thought must remain alone, whereas it generally happens that every one else, or the majority at least, have been thinking and feeling the same things but without expressing them. And that which yesterday was the novel opinion of one man, to-day becomes the general opinion of the majority. And as soon as this opinion is established, immediately by imperceptible degrees, but beyond power of frustration, the conduct of mankind begins to alter. Whereas at present, every man, even, if free, asks himself, "What can I do alone against all this ocean of evil and deceit which overwhelms us? Why should I express my opinion? Why indeed possess one?"
    • Leo Tolstoy, Patriotism and Christianity, Ch. 17 (1896).
  • I agree with no man's opinion. I have some of my own.
  • Loyalty to petrified opinions never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world — and never will.
    • Mark Twain, "Consistency" (5 December 1887). This quote is engraved on Twain's bust in the National Hall of Fame.
  • The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.
  • Inconsistencies of opinion, arising from changes of circumstances, are often justifiable.
  • You deal in the raw material of opinion, and, if my convictions have any validity, opinion ultimately governs the world.
  • An opinion, right or wrong, can never constitute a moral offense, nor be in itself a moral obligation. It may be mistaken; it may involve an absurdity, or a contradiction. It is a truth; or it is an error: it can never be a crime or a virtue.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 569-70.
  • Where an opinion is general, it is usually correct.
  • Facts are cheels that winna ding,
    An' downa be disputed.
  • Nor prints of Precedent for poore men's facts.
  • Omni autem in re consensio omnium gentium lex naturæ putanda est.
    • But in every matter the consensus of opinion among all nations is to be regarded as the law of nature.
    • Cicero, Tusc. Quæst, I, 13, 30.
  • Stiff in opinion, always in the wrong.
  • As the saying is, So many heades, so many wittes.
  • Intolerant only of intolerance.
    • I. S. S. G. in Fraser's Magazine (Aug., 1863). Article on Mr. Buckle in the East.
  • It is not often that an opinion is worth expressing, which cannot take care of itself.
  • Denique non omnes eadem mirantur amantque.
    • All men do not, in fine, admire or love the same thing.
    • Horace, Epistles, II. 2. 58.
  • Monuments of the safety with which errors of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.
  • Dogmatism is puppyism come to its full growth.
    • Douglas Jerrold, Man Made of Money. In the Wit and Opinions of Jerrold, p. 28. Attributed to Dean Mansel by Burgon in Lives of Twelve Good Men.
  • How long halt ye between two opinions?
    • I Kings, XVIII. 21.
  • The deep slumber of a decided opinion.
    • Thoughts for the Cloister and Crowd, London (1835), p. 21. Quoted by Mill, Liberty.
  • Even opinion is of force enough to make itself to be espoused at the expense of life.
  • There never was in the world two opinions alike, no more than two hairs, or two grains; the most universal quality is diversity.
  • Il opine du bonnet comme un moine en Sorbonne.
    • He adopts the opinion of others like a monk in the Sorbonne.
    • Blaise Pascal, Lettres Provinciales, II.
  • La force est la reine du monde, et non pas l'opinion; mais l'opinion est celle qui use de la force.
    • Force and not opinion is the queen of the world; but it is opinion that uses the force.
    • Blaise Pascal, Pensées (1669), Art, XXIV. 92.
  • Della opinione regina del mondo.
    • Opinion is the queen of the world.
    • Blaise Pascal quotes this as the title of an Italian work.
  • He (Cato) never gave his opinion in the Senate upon any other point whatever, without adding these words, "And, in my opinion Carthage should be destroyed." ["Delenda est Carthago."]
  • Men who borrow their opinions can never repay their debts.
  • I have bought
    Golden opinions from all sorts of people,
    Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,
    Not cast aside so soon.
  • Facts are stubborn things.
    • Tobias Smollett, Translation of Gil Blas, Book X, Chapter I. Elliot, Essay on Field Husbandry, p. 35.
  • "That was excellently observed," say I when I read a passage in another where his opinion agrees with mine. When we differ, then I pronounce him to be mistaken.
  • Quot homines, tot sententiæ; suus cuique mos.
    • So many men, so many opinions; everyone has his own fancy.
    • Terence, Phormio, II. 3, 14. Same idea in Gascoigne—Glass of Government.
  • Matters of fact, as Mr. Budgell somewhere observes, are very stubborn things.
  • See, one can have an opinion about remote events, about a natural object, about nature, about scholarly works, and about another human being, and so on about much else, and when one expresses this opinion the wise person can decide whether it is correct or incorrect. No one, however, troubles the opinion-holder with a consideration of the other side of truth, whether one actually does have the opinion, whether it is just something one is reciting. Yet this other side is just as important, because not only is that person mad who talks senselessly, but the person is fully as mad who states a correct opinion if it has absolutely no significance for him. The one shows the other the confidence, the acknowledgment, of assuming that he means what he says. Alas, yet it is so easy, so very easy, to acquire a true opinion, and yet it is so difficult, so very difficult, to have an opinion and to have it in truth.
    • Soren Kierkegaard Three Discourses On Imagined Occasions, Soren Kierkegaard, June 17, 1844, Hong 1993.

Respectfully Quoted (1989)[edit]

  • The matter does not appear to me now as it appears to have appeared to me then.
    • Baron George W. W. Bramwell, justice on the Court of the Exchequer, Andrews v. Styrap, 26 L. T. 706 (1872).—Eugene C. Gerhart, Quote It!, p. 558 (1969). Reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
  • Predominant opinions are generally the opinions of the generation that is vanishing.
    • Attributed to Benjamin Disraeli.—Maturin M. Ballou, Treasury of Thought, p. 370 (1899). Reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
  • There is probably an element of malice in the readiness to overestimate people; we are laying up for ourselves the pleasure of later cutting them down to size.
    • Eric Hoffer, "Thoughts of Eric Hoffer, Including 'Absolute Faith Corrupts Absolutely,'" The New York Times Magazine, April 25, 1971, p. 60, 62.
  • A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
    • Attributed to William James, in Clifton Fadiman, American Treasury, 1455–1955, p. 719 (1955). Reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989). A similar thought was expressed by Josh Billings (Henry Wheeler Shaw): "Education is a good thing generally, but most folks educate their prejudices".—Everybody's Friend, or Josh Billing's [sic] Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, p. 592 (1874). Spelling corrected.
  • If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.
    • Thomas Jefferson, inaugural address, March 4, 1801.—The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Andrew A. Lipscomb, vol. 3, p. 319 (1904).
  • For the great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie—deliberate, contrived, and dishonest—but the myth—persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinions without the discomfort of thought.
    • John F. Kennedy, commencement address at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, June 11, 1962. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1962, p. 234.
  • I have got you together to hear what I have written down. I do not wish your advice about the main matter—for that I have determined for myself.
    • Attributed to President Abraham Lincoln.—Salmon P. Chase, diary entry for September 22, 1862, Diary and Correspondence of Salmon P. Chase, p. 88 (1903, reprinted 1971). According to the Chase account, Lincoln spoke these words at a cabinet meeting he had called to inform the members of his decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. This quotation is also used in Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, p. 584 (1939). Although these words are not used, the same thought is conveyed in the diary of another member of Lincoln's cabinet, Gideon Welles. See his diary entry for the same date in Diary of Gideon Welles, vol. 1, p. 142–43 (1911).
  • We cannot ask a man what he will do, and if we should, and he should answer us, we should despise him for it. Therefore we must take a man whose opinions are known.
    • President Abraham Lincoln, in conversation with George Sewall Boutwell concerning the nomination of Salmon P. Chase to the U.S. Supreme Court, reported by Boutwell in his Reminiscences of Sixty Years in Public Affairs, vol. 2, p. 29 (1902).
  • This imputation of inconsistency is one to which every sound politician and every honest thinker must sooner or later subject himself. The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinion.
  • There is the grand truth about Nathaniel Hawthorne. He says NO! in thunder; but the Devil himself cannot make him say yes. For all men who say yes, lie; and all men who say no,—why, they are in the happy condition of judicious, unincumbered travellers in Europe; they cross the frontiers into Eternity with nothing but a carpet-bag,—that is to say, the Ego. Whereas those yes-gentry, they travel with heaps of baggage, and, damn them! they will never get through the Custom House.
    • Herman Melville, letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne, April 16, 1851.—Melville, Moby-Dick: An Authoritative Text, Reviews and Letters…, ed. Harrison Hayford and Hershel Parker, p. 555 (1967).
  • There are as many opinions as there are experts.
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt, radio appeal on the scrap rubber campaign, June 12, 1942.—The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1942, p. 272 (1950). The speech was reprinted in the Congressional Record, June 15, 1942, vol. 88, Appendix, p. A2228.
  • After the war, and until the day of his death, his position on almost every public question was either mischievous or ridiculous, and usually both.
    • Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Hart Benton (vol. 7 of The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, national ed.), chapter 8, p. 104 (1926). He was referring to Wendell Phillips, well-known nineteenth century Abolitionist.
  • The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holder's lack of rational conviction. Opinions in politics and religion are almost always held passionately.


  • Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.
    • Variant: Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.
      • Attributed to Bernard Baruch; reported in Alfred A. Montapert, ed., Distilled Wisdom (1964), p. 145; reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989). Baruch placed such great importance on getting the facts, "free from tips, inside dope or wishful thinking", that President Wilson took to calling him "Dr. Facts". Baruch, My Own Story (1957), vol. 1, p. 131.
        • Who attributes it to Alan Greenspan; 1984 July 16, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Moynihan: If it’s fixed, don’t break it by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Page 9A, Column 1, Cleveland, Ohio. (GenealogyBank) [1]
      • Quoted in Robert Sobel's review of Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies edited by Mark C. Carnes.
    • Variant: You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

See also[edit]

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