Hoyt & Roberts, comps. Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations. 1922.


Yet the deepest truths are best read between the lines, and, for the most part, refuse to be written.
Amos Bronson Alcott—Concord Days. June. Goethe.

But no pleasure is comparable to the standing upon the vantage ground of Truth.
Bacon—Essays. Of Truth.

How sweet the words of Truth, breath’d from the lips of Love.
Beattie—The Minstrel. Bk. II. St. 53.

To say the truth, though I say ’t that should not say ’t.
Beaumont and Fletcher—Wit at Several Weapons. Act II.

La vérité n’a point cet air impétueux.
Truth has not such an urgent air.
Boileau—L’Art Poétique. I. 198.

Le vrai peut quelquefois n’être pas vraisemblable.
At times truth may not seem probable.
Boileau—L’Art Poétique. III. 48.

Think truly, and thy thoughts
Shall the world’s famine feed.
Speak truly, and each word of thine
Shall be a fruitful seed.
Live truly, and thy life shall be
A great and noble creed.
Horatius Bonar—Hymns of Faith and Hope. P. 113. (Ed. 1867).

Magna est veritas et prævalebit.
Truth is mighty and will prevail.
Thomas Brooks is said to have been the first to use the expression. (1662). Found in Scott—Talisman. Ch. XIX. Bishop Jewel. Purchas—Microcosmus. Thackeray—Roundabout Papers. “O magna vis veritas.” Found in Cicero—Oratio Pro Cœlio Rufo. XXVI.

Se non è vero, è molto ben trovato.
If it is not true it is very well invented.
Giordano Bruno—Degli Eroici Furori. Cardinal d’Este. Of Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso.

Truth crushed to earth shall rise again:
Th’ eternal years of God are hers;
But Error, wounded, writhes in pain,
And dies among his worshippers.
Bryant—The Battle Field. St. 9.

Truth makes on the ocean of nature no one track of light—every eye looking on finds its own.
Bulwer-Lytton—Caxtoniana. Essay XIV.

Arm thyself for the truth!
Bulwer-Lytton—Lady of Lyons. Act V. Sc. 1.

Better be cheated to the last,
Than lose the blessed hope of truth.
Mrs. Butler (Fanny Kemble).

For truth is precious and divine;
Too rich a pearl for carnal swine.
Butler—Hudibras. Pt. II. Canto II. L. 257.

’Tis not antiquity, nor author,
That makes truth truth, altho’ time’s daughter.
Butler—Hudibras. Pt. II. Canto III.

More proselytes and converts use t’ accrue
To false persuasions than the right and true;
For error and mistake are infinite,
But truth has but one way to be i’ th’ right.
Butler—Miscellaneous Thoughts. L. 113.

No words suffice the secret soul to show,
For Truth denies all eloquence to Woe.
Byron—Corsair. Canto III. St. 22.

’Tis strange—but true; for truth is always strange,
Stranger than fiction.
Byron—Don Juan. Canto XIV. St. 101.

A man protesting against error is on the way towards uniting himself with all men that believe in truth.
Carlyle—Heroes and Hero Worship. IV.

Truths turn into dogmas the moment they are disputed.
G. K. Chesterton—Heretics.

When fiction rises pleasing to the eye,
Men will believe, because they love the lie;
But truth herself, if clouded with a frown,
Must have some solemn proof to pass her down.
Churchill—Epistle to Hogarth. L. 291.

Qui semel a veritate deflexit, hic non majore religione ad perjurium quam ad mendacium perduci consuevit.
He who has once deviated from the truth, usually commits perjury with as little scruple as he would tell a lie.
Cicero—Oratio Pro Quinto Roscio Comœdo. XX.

Natura inest mentibus nostris insatiabilis quædam cupiditas veri videndi.
Our minds possess by nature an insatiable desire to know the truth.
Cicero—Tusculanarum Disputationum. I. 18.

Tell the truth or trump—but get the trick.
S. L. Clemens (Mark Twain)—Pudd’nhead Wilson.

For truth is unwelcome, however divine.
Cowper—The Flatting Mill. St. 6.

But what is truth? ’Twas Pilate’s question put
To Truth itself, that deign’d him no reply.
Cowper—The Task. Bk. III. L. 270.

Nature***has buried truth deep in the bottom of the sea.
Democritus. Quoted by Cicero—Academic Questions. Bk. II. Ch. X. C. D. Yonge’s trans. Credited to Democritus by Lactantius—Institutiones. Bk. III. Ch. XXVIII.

“It was as true,” said Mr. Barkis,… “as taxes is. And nothing’s truer than them.”
Dickens—David Copperfield. Ch. XXI.

The first great work (a task performed by few)
Is that yourself may to yourself be true.
Wentworth Dillon—An Essay on Translated Verse. L. 71.

For truth has such a face and such a mien,
As to be lov’d needs only to be seen.
Dryden—The Hind and the Panther. Pt. I. L. 33.

Truth is immortal; error is mortal.
Mary B. G. Eddy—Science and Health. Ch. XIV.

Truth has rough flavours if we bite it through.
George Eliot—Armgart. Sc. 2.

The greater the truth the greater the libel.
Attributed to Lord Ellenborough. (About 1789). Burns credits it to Lord Mansfield.

The nobler the truth or sentiment, the less imports the question of authorship.
Emerson—Letters and Social Aims. Quotation and Originality.

Though love repine and reason chafe,
There came a voice without reply,
“’Tis man’s perdition to be safe,
When for the truth he ought to die.”
Emerson—Quatrains. Sacrifice.

Vincer veris.
I am conquered by truth.

But above all things truth beareth away the victory.
I Esdras. III. 12. Inscription on the New York Public Library.

Great is truth, and mighty above all things.
I Esdras. IV. 41.

Si je tenais toutes les vérités dans ma main, je me donnerais bien de garde de l’ouvrir aux hommes.
If I held all of truth in my hand I would beware of opening it to men.

Truth only smells sweet forever, and illusions, however innocent, are deadly as the canker worm.
Froude—Short Studies on Great Subjects. Calvinism.

Lest men suspect your tale untrue,
Keep probability in view.
Gay—The Painter who Pleased Nobody and Everybody.

Alius quidam veterum pœtarum cuius nomen mihi nunc memoriæ non est veritatem temporis filiam esse dixit.
There is another old poet whose name I do not now remember who said Truth is the daughter of Time.
Aulus Gellius—Noctes Atticæ. XII. 11. Par. 2. Veritas temporis filia. Found on the reverse of several coins of Queen Mary I.

Her terrible tale
You can’t assail,
With truth it quite agrees;
Her taste exact
For faultless fact
Amounts to a disease.
W. S. Gilbert—Mikado. Act II.

Truth like a torch, the more ’tis shook, it shines.
Sir William Hamilton—Discussions on Philosophy. Title Page.

One truth discovered is immortal, and entitles its author to be so: for, like a new substance in nature, it cannot be destroyed.
Hazlitt—The Spirit of the Age. Jeremy Bentham.

All truths are not to be told.
Herbert—Jacula Prudentum.

Dare to be true, nothing can need a lie;
A fault which needs it most, grows two thereby.
Herbert—The Temple. The Church Porch.

Truth is tough. It will not break, like a bubble, at a touch; nay, you may kick it about all day, like a foot-ball, and it will be round and full at evening.
Holmes—Professor at the Breakfast Table. V.

Nuda veritas. (Nudaque veritas.)
The naked truth.
Horace—Carmina. I. 24. 7.

Quid verum atque decens curo et rogo, et omnis in hoc sum.
My cares and my inquiries are for decency and truth, and in this I am wholly occupied.
Horace—Epistles. I. 1. 11.

Ridentem dicere verum,
Quid vetat.
What forbids a man to speak the truth in a laughing way?
Horace—Satires. I. 24.

The truth shall make you free.
John. VIII. 32.

There is no truth in him.
John. VIII. 44.

Le contraire des bruits qui courent des affaires ou des personnes est souvent la vérité.
The opposite of what is noised about concerning men and things is often the truth.
La Bruyère—Les Caractères. XII.

La vérité ne fait pas tant de bien dans le monde, que ses apparences y font de mal.
Truth does not do so much good in the world, as the appearance of it does evil.
La Rochefoucauld—Maximes. 59.

Veritatem laborare nimis sæpe, aiunt, extingui nunquam.
It is said that truth is often eclipsed but never extinguished.
Livy—Annales. XXII. 39.

The best way to come to truth being to examine things as really they are, and not to conclude they are, as we fancy of ourselves, or have been taught by others to imagine.
Locke—Human Understanding. Bk. II. Ch. XII.

To love truth for truth’s sake is the principal part of human perfection in this world, and the seed-plot of all other virtues.
Locke—Letter to Anthony Collins, Esq. Oct. 29, 1703.

When by night the frogs are croaking, kindle but a torch’s fire;
Ha! how soon they all are silent! Thus Truth silences the liar.
Friedrich von Logau. See Longfellow’s trans. Poetic Aphorisms. Truth.

Who dares
To say that he alone has found the truth?
Longfellow—Christus. Pt. III. John Endicott. Act II. Sc. 3.

Get but the truth once uttered, and ’tis like
A star new-born that drops into its place
And which, once circling in its placid round,
Not all the tumult of the earth can shake.
Lowell—A Glance Behind the Curtain. L. 173.

Put golden padlocks on Truth’s lips, be callous as ye will,
From soul to soul, o’er all the world, leaps one electric thrill.
Lowell—On the Capture of Certain Fugitive Slaves near Washington.

Then to side with Truth is noble when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses, while the coward stands aside,
Doubting in his abject spirit, till his Lord is crucified.
Lowell—The Present Crisis.

Truth forever on the scaffold. Wrong forever on the throne.
Lowell—The Present Crisis.

Children and fooles speake true.

But there is no veil like light—no adamantine armor against hurt like the truth.
George MacDonald—The Marquis of Lossie. Ch. LXXI.

Veritatis absolutus sermo ac semper est simplex.
The language of truth is unadorned and always simple.
Ammianus Marcellinus—Annales. XIV. 10.

Pericula veritati sæpe contigua.
Truth is often attended with danger.
Ammianus Marcellinus—Annales. XXVI. 1.

Truth, when not sought after, sometimes comes to light.
Menander—Ex Verberata. P. 160.

Not a truth has to art or to science been given,
But brows have ached for it, and souls toil’d and striven;
And many have striven, and many have fail’d,
And many died, slain by the truth they assail’d.
Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton)—Lucile. Pt. II. Canto VI. St. 1.

Who ever knew truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?

Truth is as impossible to be soiled by any outward touch as the sunbeam.
Milton—Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce.

Ev’n them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
When all our fathers worshipp’d stocks and stones,
Forget not.
Milton—Sonnet. Massacre in Piedmont.

I speak truth, not so much as I would, but as much as I dare; and I dare a little the more as I grow older.
Montaigne—Essays. Of Repentance.

For oh, ’twas nuts to the Father of Lies,
(As this wily fiend is named in the Bible)
To find it settled by Laws so wise
That the greater the truth, the worse the libel.
Moore—A Case of Libel. Odes on Cash, Corn, etc.

I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
Isaac Newton—Statement. In Brewster—Memoirs. Vol. II. Ch. XXVII. “As children gathering pebbles on the shore.” Milton—Paradise Regained. Bk. IV. L. 330.

In the mountains of truth, you never climb in vain.
Nietzsche—Thus spake Zarathustra.

We know the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart.
Pascal—Thoughts. Ch. X. 1.

Naked Truth needs no shift.
William Penn—Tale of a Broadside. (1674).

Ego verum amo, verum volo mihi dici; mendacem odi.
I love truth and wish to have it always spoken to me: I hate a liar.
Plautus—Mostellaria. I. 3. 26.

When truth or virtue an affront endures,
Th’ affront is mine, my friend, and should be yours.
Pope—Epilogue to Satires. Dialogue I. L. 207.

’Tis not enough your counsel still be true;
Blunt truths more mischief than nice falsehoods do.
Pope—Essay on Criticism. Pt. III. L. 13.

Farewell then, verse, and love, and ev’ry toy,
The rhymes and rattles of the man or boy;
What right, what true, what fit we justly call,
Let this be all my care—for this is all.
Pope—First Book of Horace. Ep. I. L. 17.

Dum omnia quærimus, aliquando ad verum, ubi minime expectavimus, pervenimus.
While we are examining into everything we sometimes find truth where we least expected it.
Quintilian—De Institutione Oratoria. XII. 8. 3.

Let us seek the solution of these doubts at the bottom of the inexhaustible well, where Heraclitus says that truth is hidden.
Rabelais—Pantagruel. Ch. XVIII.

Die Treue warnt vor drohenden Verbrechen,
Die Rachgier spricht von den begangenen.
Truth warns of threatening crimes,
Malice speaks of those which were committed.
Schiller—Don Carlos. III. 4. 124.

Involuta veritas in alto latet.
Truth lies wrapped up and hidden in the depths.
Seneca—De Beneficiis. VII. 1.

Veritatem dies aperit.
Time discovers truth.
Seneca—De Ira. II. 22.

Veritatis simplex oratio est.
The language of truth is simple.
Seneca—Epistolæ Ad Lucilium. XLIX.

Veritas odit moras.
Truth hates delays.
Seneca—Œdipus. 850.

That truth should be silent I had almost forgot.
Antony and Cleopatra. Act II. Sc. 2. L. 110.

To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Hamlet. Act I. Sc. 3. L. 78.

If circumstances lead me, I will find
Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed
Within the centre.
Hamlet. Act II. Sc. 2. L. 157.

Mark now, how a plain tale shall put you down.
Henry IV. Pt. I. Act II. Sc. 4. L. 281.

Tell truth and shame the devil.
If thou have power to raise him, bring him hither,
And I’ll be sworn I have power to shame him hence.
Henry IV. Pt. I. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 59.

What, can the devil speak true?
Macbeth. Act I. Sc. 3. L. 107.

But ’tis strange:
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray’s
In deepest consequence.
Macbeth. Act I. Sc. 3. L. 122.

Truth is truth
To the end of reckoning.
Measure for Measure. Act V. Sc. 1. L. 45.

But wonder on, till truth make all things plain.
Midsummer Night’s Dream. Act V. Sc. 1. L. 129.

They breathe truth that breathe their words in pain.
Richard II. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 8.

Methinks the truth should live from age to age,
As ’twere retail’d to all posterity,
Even to the general all-ending day.
Richard III. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 76.

My man’s as true as steel.
Romeo and Juliet. Act II. Sc. 4. L. 209. Troilus and Cressida. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 166.

And simple truth miscall’d simplicity,
And captive good attending captain ill.
Sonnet LXVI.

Truth needs no colour, with his colour fix’d;
Beauty no pencil, beauty’s truth to lay;
But best is best, if never intermix’d.
Sonnet CI.

When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her, though I know she lies.

All great truths begin as blasphemies.
Bernard Shaw—Annajanska.

My way of joking is to tell the truth. It’s the funniest joke in the world.
Bernard Shaw—John Bull’s Other Island. Act II.

Truth and, by consequence, liberty, will always be the chief power of honest men.
Madame de Staël—Coppet et Weimar. Letter to Gen. Moreau.

Tell truth, and shame the devil.
Swift—Mary, the Cookmaid’s Letter. Rabelais—Works. Author’s Prologue to Bk. V. Beaumont and Fletcher—Wit Without Money. Act IV. Sc. 1. Henry IV. Pt. I. Sc. 1. L. 59.

Veritas visu et mora, falsa festinatione et incertis valescunt.
Truth is confirmed by inspection and delay: falsehood by haste and uncertainty.
Tacitus—Annales. II. 39.

Truth-teller was our England’s Alfred named?
Tennyson—Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington.

And friendly free discussion calling forth
From the fair jewel Truth its latent ray.
Thomson—Liberty. Pt. II. L. 220.

It takes two to speak the truth—one to speak, and another to hear.
Thoreau—A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. P. 283.

There are truths which are not for all men, nor for all times.
Voltaire—Letter to Cardinal de Bernis. April 23, 1761.

There is nothing so powerful as truth; and often nothing so strange.
Daniel Webster—Arguments on the Murder of Captain White. Vol. VI. P. 68.

I have ever thought,
Nature doth nothing so great for great men,
As when she’s pleas’d to make them lords of truth.
Integrity of life is fame’s best friend,
Which nobly, beyond death, shall crown the end.
John Webster—The Duchess of Malfi. Act V. Sc. 5.

It is one thing to wish to have truth on our side, and another to wish sincerely to be on the side of truth.
Archbishop Whateley—Essay on some of the Difficulties in the Writings of the Apostle Paul.—No. 1. On the Love of Truth.

The sages say, Dame Truth delights to dwell
(Strange Mansion!) in the bottom of a well:
Questions are then the Windlass and the rope
That pull the grave old Gentlewoman up.
John Wolcot (Peter Pindar)—Birthday Ode.

Truths that wake
To perish never.
Wordsworth—Ode. Intimations of Immortality. St. 9.

Truth never was indebted to a lie.
Young—Night Thoughts. Night VIII. L. 587.