Quote Origin: Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery That Mediocrity Can Pay To Greatness

Oscar Wilde? Charles Caleb Colton? Herbert Beerbohm Tree? Punch Magazine? Dublin Monthly Magazine? Anonymous? Question for Quote Investigator: Words and deeds are imitated when they are deemed useful, popular, or admirable. However, a simulacrum is inferior when compared to the original. A wit once said: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can …

Quote Origin: Life Is Not Complex. We Are Complex. Life Is Simple, and the Simple Thing Is the Right Thing

Oscar Wilde? Robert Ross? Rudolf Flesch? Apocryphal? Question for Quote Investigator: Modern life seems to be extremely complicated, but the underlying principles of a worthwhile life are quite simple. I am reminded of the following quotation: Life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple, and the simple thing is the right thing. These …

The Moment You Think You Understand a Great Work of Art, It’s Dead for You

Oscar Wilde? Robert Wilson? Apocryphal? Question for Quote Investigator: Major works of art are complex, ambiguous, and difficult to interpret. The vitality of a piece is compromised when a single meaning is imposed on it. Apparently, an artist once said something like this: The moment you understand a great work of art, it’s dead for …

Everything Will Be OK in the End. If It’s Not OK It’s Not the End

John Lennon? Oscar Wilde? Fernando Sabino? Paulo Coelho? Domingos Sabino? Farah Khan? Anonymous? Question for Quote Investigator: Here are three versions of a popular remark that reflects an unwaveringly upbeat perspective on life: (1) Everything is OK in the end; if it’s not OK it’s not the end. (2) Everything is going to be fine …

Consistency Is the Last Refuge of the Unimaginative

Oscar Wilde? James McNeill Whistler? Ralph Waldo Emerson? Apocryphal? Question for Quote Investigator: Being consistent is important in life. Yet, additional knowledge and experience motivates new thoughts and behaviors. The following adage criticizes the straitjacket of excessive consistency: Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. The famous Irish wit Oscar Wilde has received credit …

Nothing Succeeds Like Undress

Dorothy Parker? Oscar Wilde? Alexandre Dumas? Anonymous? Dear Quote Investigator: While streaming an elaborately expensive television series I encountered a gratuitous scene with scanty clothing. I was reminded of this witticism: Nothing succeeds like undress. This quip has been attributed to Dorothy Parker. Would you please explore the provenance of this remark? Quote Investigator: The …

Be Moderate In Everything Including Moderation

Mark Twain? Oscar Wilde? Socrates? Nancy Weber? Judy Tillinger? Horace Porter? J. F. Carter? Gaius Petronius Arbiter? James Ogilvy? Thomas Paine? Voltaire? Richard A. Posner? Benjamin Franklin? Anonymous? Dear Quote Investigator: The ancient Greek poet Hesiod stated:[1] 2008, Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, Fifth Edition, Edited by Jennifer Speake, Entry: Moderation in all things, Quote Page …

I Have Nothing To Declare Except My Genius

Oscar Wilde? Stuart Mason? Christopher Sclater Millard? Robert Ross? Elizabeth P. O’Connor? Arthur Ransome? Frank Harris? Sylvestre Dorian? Apocryphal? Dear Quote Investigator: According to legend, the famous wit Oscar Wilde delivered a comically audacious line when he first entered the United States during his lecture tour. A customs official in New York asked him if …

I Drink To Keep Body and Soul Apart

Oscar Wilde? Seamus Heaney? Dorothy Parker? Israel Zangwill? Jen Kirkman? Apocryphal? Dear Quote Investigator: The body and the soul separate at the time of death according to many religious systems. Hence, the idiom “keep body and soul together” refers to maintaining life, i.e., earning enough money to maintain health and activity. The famous Irish wit …

Salary Is No Object; I Want Only Enough To Keep Body and Soul Apart

Dorothy Parker? Alexander Woollcott? Israel Zangwill? Oscar Wilde? Apocryphal? Dear Quote Investigator: The body and the soul separate at the time of death according to many religious systems. Hence, the idiom “keep body and soul together” refers to maintaining life, i.e., earning enough money to maintain health and activity. A quipster once reversed this formula …