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Ridicule is the criticism or disapproval of someone or something through scornful jocularity. It is similar to mockery.


  • RIDICULE, n. Words designed to show that the person of whom they are uttered is devoid of the dignity of character distinguishing him who utters them. It may be graphic, mimetic or merely rident. Shaftesbury is quoted as having pronounced it the test of truth -- a ridiculous assertion, for many a solemn fallacy has undergone centuries of ridicule with no abatement of its popular acceptance. What, for example, has been more valorously derided than the doctrine of Infant Respectability?
  • We have oftener than once endeavoured to attach some meaning to that aphorism, vulgarly imputed to Shaftesbury, which however we can find nowhere in his works, that "ridicule is the test of truth."
    • Thomas Carlyle, Critical and Miscellaneous Essays (1827–1855), Voltaire.
  • Jane borrow'd maxims from a doubting school,
    And took for truth the test of ridicule;
    Lucy saw no such virtue in a jest,
    Truth was with her of ridicule the test.
  • "I wish to become a teacher of the Truth."
    "Are you prepared to be ridiculed, ignored and starving till you are forty-five?"
    "I am. But tell me: What will happen after I am forty-five?"
    "You will have grown accustomed to it."
    • Wellsprings : A Book of Spiritual Exercises (1985), p. 19
    • Anthony de Mello, Wellsprings : A Book of Spiritual Exercises (1985), p. 19.
  • The sublime and ridiculous are often so nearly related that it is difficult to class them separately. One step below the sublime makes the ridiculous, and one step above the ridiculous makes the sublime again.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 673-74.
  • It frequently happens that where the second line is sublime, the third, in which he meant to rise still higher, is perfectly bombast.
    • Hugh Blair. Commenting on Lucan's style. Borrowed from Longinus, Treatise on the Sublime, Section III.
  • That passage is what I call the sublime dashed to pieces by cutting too close with the fiery four-in-hand round the corner of nonsense.
  • I distrust those sentiments that are too far removed from nature, and whose sublimity is blended with ridicule; which two are as near one another as extreme wisdom and folly.
  • L'on ne saurait mieux faire voir que le magnifique et le ridicule sont si voisins qu'ils se touchent.
    • There is nothing one sees oftener than the ridiculous and magnificent, such close neighbors that they touch.
    • Bernard Le Bouvier de Fontenelle, Œuvres, Dialogues des Morts (1683), IV. 32. Ed. 1825. Used by Edward, Lord Oxford, Ms. Common Place Book.
  • Ridiculum acri
    Fortius ac melius magnas plerumque secat res.
    • Ridicule more often settles things more thoroughly and better than acrimony.
    • Horace, Satires, Book I. 10. 14.
  • En géneral, le ridicule touche au sublime.
  • Du sublime au ridicule il n'y a qu'un pas.
    • There is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous.
    • Napoleon I to Abbé du Pradt, at Warsaw. See Histoire de l'Ambassade dans la Grande Duché de Vasovie, Ed. 2, p. 219. Attributed also to Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (traced from Napoleon to Paine, Paine to Blair).
  • How comes it to pass, then, that we appear such cowards in reasoning, and are so afraid to stand the test of ridicule?
  • 'Twas the saying of an ancient sage that humour was the only test of gravity, and gravity of humour. For a subject which would not bear raillery was suspicious; and a jest which would not bear a serious examination was certainly false wit.
  • Truth, 'tis supposed, may bear all lights; and one of those principal lights or natural mediums by which things are to be viewed in order to a thorough recognition is ridicule itself.
  • I have always made one prayer to God, a very short one. Here it is: "My God, make our enemies very ridiculous!" God has granted it to me.
    • Voltaire, letter to M. Damilaville (16 May 1767).
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