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) American Founding Father, Educator, Clergyman
A thousand useless words is not worth one by which the mind can be calmed after listening to it.
Better pointed bullets than pointed speeches.
—Otto von Bismarck (1815–98) Prussian German- Political leader, Nationalist
It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood.
—Karl Popper (1902–94) Austrian-born British Philosopher
He is a vicious person who gives false witness either for his own sake or for others’ or for wealth.
The ability to express an idea is well nigh as important as the idea itself.
—Bernard M. Baruch (1870–1965) American Financier, Economic Consultant
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
All speech, written or spoken, is a dead language, until it finds a willing and prepared hearer.
—Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–94) Scottish 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
The tongue is like a sharp knife; it kills without drawing blood.
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
A witty saying proves nothing.
—Voltaire (1694–1778) French Philosopher, Author
Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.
—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–94) American Physician, Essayist
Speak but little and well if you would be esteemed a man of merit.
—Richard Chenevix Trench (1807–86) Irish Anglican Clergyman, Religious Leader, Poet
Speech is the messenger of the heart.
—The Talmud Sacred Text of the Jewish Faith
Speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again.
—F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940) American Novelist
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.
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
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
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
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 (369BCE–286BCE) Chinese Philosopher
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.
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.
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.
We have as many planes of speech as does a painting planes of perspective which create perspective in a phrase. The most important word stands out most vividly defined in the very foreground of the sound plane. Less important words create a series of deeper planes.
—Constantin Stanislavski (1863–1938) Russian Actor, Theater Personality
I have often regretted my speech, never my silence.
—Publilius Syrus (fl.85–43 BCE) Syrian-born Roman Latin Writer
Speech is the gift of all, but the thought of few.
—Cato the Elder (Marcus Porcius Cato) (234–149 BCE) Roman Statesman
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.
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
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.
Only good words should be spoken, never evil ones. Uttering good words is profitable. One who utters evil words will have to regret.
Literature is the immortality of speech.
—August Wilhelm Schlegel (1767–1845) German Poet, Literary Critic, Scholar