The tongue is like a sharp knife; it kills without drawing blood.
Listening to someone talk isn’t at all like listening to their words played over on a machine. What you hear when you have a face before you is never what you hear when you have before you a winding tape.
—Oriana Fallaci (1929–2006) Italian Journalist, Historian
The ability to express an idea is well nigh as important as the idea itself.
—Bernard M. Baruch (1870–1965) American Financier, Economic Consultant
A witty saying proves nothing.
—Voltaire (1694–1778) French Philosopher, Author
For mankind, speech with a capital S is especially meaningful and committing, more than the content communicated. The outcry of the newborn and the sound of the bells are fraught with mystery more than the baby’s woeful face or the venerable tower.
—Paul Goodman (1911–72) American Novelist, Essayist
Let a man speak what is pleasant and cheerful. A wise man does not pay attention to others’ insult and always speak what is delightful.
Speech is the gift of all, but the thought of few.
—Cato the Elder (Marcus Porcius Cato) (234–149 BCE) Roman Statesman
All speech, written or spoken, is a dead language, until it finds a willing and prepared hearer.
—Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–94) Scottish Novelist
A thousand useless words is not worth one by which the mind can be calmed after listening to it.
He is a vicious person who gives false witness either for his own sake or for others’ or for wealth.
Three things matter in a speech – who says it, how he says it and what he says, and of the three, the latter matters the least
—John Morley, 1st Viscount Morley of Blackburn (1838–1923) British Political Leader, Writer, Editor, Journalist
Speech is human nature itself, with none of the artificiality of written language.
—Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) English Mathematician, Philosopher
Man does not speak because he thinks; he thinks because he speaks. Or rather, speaking is no different than thinking: to speak is to think.
—Octavio Paz (1914–98) Mexican Poet, Diplomat
Many great writers have been extraordinarily awkward in daily exchange, but the greatest give the impression that their style was nursed by the closest attention to colloquial speech.
—Thornton Wilder (1897–1975) American Novelist, Playwright
Speak but little and well if you would be esteemed a man of merit.
—Richard Chenevix Trench (1807-86) Irish Prelate, Philologist, Poet
Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel. It is to bring another out of his bad sense into your good sense.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) American Philosopher
He ‘collects evil with his own mouth’ when he praises one who should be blamed or blames one who should be praised. Such a person will thereby never find happiness.
Speech is the messenger of the heart.
—The Talmud Sacred Text of the Jewish Faith
Only good words should be spoken, never evil ones. Uttering good words is profitable. One who utters evil words will have to regret.
Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.
—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–94) American Physician, Essayist
Literature is the immortality of speech.
—August Wilhelm Schlegel (1767–1845) German Poet, Literary Critic, Scholar
Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say, and say it hot.
—D. H. Lawrence (1885–1930) English Novelist, Playwright, Poet, Essayist, Literary Critic
There is a wide difference between speaking to deceive, and being silent to be impenetrable.
—Voltaire (1694–1778) French Philosopher, Author
Speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again.
—F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940) American Novelist
Let us speak, though we show all our faults and weaknesses, –for it is a sign of strength to be weak, to know it, and out with it — not in a set way and ostentatiously, though, but incidentally and without premeditation.
—Herman Melville (1819–91) American Novelist, Short Story Writer, Essayist, Poet
It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood.
—Karl Popper (1902–94) Austrian-born British Philosopher
Silence sweeter is than speech.
—Dinah Craik (1826–87) British Novelist, Essayist, Poet
As a vessel is known by the sound, whether it be cracked or not, so men are proved by their speeches whether they be wise or foolish.
—Demosthenes (384–322 BCE) Greek Statesman, Orator
I have often regretted my speech, never my silence.
—Publilius Syrus (fl.85–43 BCE) Syrian-born Roman Latin Writer
Speech was given to the ordinary sort of men, whereby to communicate their mind; but to wise men, whereby to conceal it.
—Robert South (1634–1716) English Theologian
Better pointed bullets than pointed speeches.
—Otto von Bismarck (1815–98) German Chancellor, Prime Minister
One should speak a word which does not cause regret to himself and is not harmful to others. That kind of words is well-spoken.
The world does not speak. Only we do. The world can, once we have programmed ourselves with a language, cause us to hold beliefs. But it cannot propose a language for us to speak. Only other human beings can do that.
—Richard Rorty (1931–2007) American Philosopher
A constant governance of our speech, according to duty and reason, is a high instance and a special argument of a thoroughly sincere and solid goodness.
An axe is born in a mouth of everyone. It is the axe with which a fool who says evil words wounds himself.
Never rise to speak till you have something to say; and when you have said it, cease.
—John Witherspoon (1723-94) Scottish-American Presbyterian Theologian
Most men make little use of their speech than to give evidence against their own understanding.
—George Savile, 1st Marquess of Halifax (1633–95) British Statesman, Writer, Politician
One should not speak too much nor keep quiet all the time. When it is time to speak, let him speak moderately and not redundantly.
We who officially value freedom of speech above life itself seem to have nothing to talk about but the weather.
—Barbara Ehrenreich (b.1941) American Social Critic, Essayist
Let a man talk of what he can do, not of what he still cannot do. He who is merely clever at speaking, but not doing, will he detected by the wise man.
A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker.
—Zhuang Zhou (c.369–c.286 BCE) Chinese Taoist Philosopher