Quotes Uncovered: A Call for Quotes

Having spent recent weeks soliciting suggestions of favorite quotations and phrases from readers for the next edition of The Yale Book of Quotations, let me now again turn the tables. Do any readers have any quotations whose origins they would like me to attempt to trace?

Tom Cryer

"Reward bad behavior, get bad behavior. Reward good behavior, get good behavior."


Here's a quote I'd like to see sourced: "On the plains of hesitation lie the blackendbones of countless millions who at the dawn of victory sat to rest, and resting, died." I've heard it attributed to everyone from Omar Khyamm to Adlai Stevenson, but can't find any credible source.

Drill-Baby-Drill Drill Team

"The Candle that Burns Twice as Bright, Burns Half as Long."
- Saw it in film Blade Runner, but it probably predates it.


My father often jokingly quotes "some old judge" as saying something along the following: "Anyone who gets away with something will be back soon to get away with a little bit more." I like the quote and its logic, but my Google attempts have yielded nothing whatsoever. Any feedback much appreciated.

john w. cooper

How about the source of "Early ripe, early rotten"?


I would like to hear the origins of:

"It is easier for the world to accept a simple lie than a complex truth"

I have heard it attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville but have never been able to find a reference.

Tom O'Brien

How about this one:

"Best time to plant a tree? 10 years ago. Next best time? Today."



"Even a broken clock is correct twice a day"

Kim Barnes

Was it Jobs or Gates (or neither) who said "Innovation is creativity that ships."?

Lee Shrewsbury

"as awareness increases, so does coincidence"

David Chowes, New York City

"If you think too much, you'll get a headache."

Origin, please?

Heinrich Beck

When I was in the Navy, I saw this quote attributed to Chester Nimitz. Years later, I contacted some Navy historians and they were unwilling to state he said this.

If you could find the origin of this, I would be very appreciative.

"If you are going to be on the spot, pick the spot"


I have a foggy memory of a quote on the wall in high school but I haven't been able to find it with google... It's something like:

"What you hope to be eventually, pretend to be every day and the qualities will seep into your soul"

That was not the exact quote I'm sure and it was attributed to someone, but I can't remember who. Not to be confused with the similar but darker sentiment from Kurt Vonnegut's Mother Night:

"Be careful what you pretend to be, because you are what you pretend to be."


"God made religion; the Devil organized it"

Said to be an old Arabic comment but I've failed to track it so far.

Will Rowlands

"Civilization is one meal deep."

Paul Martin

"A scientific theory is a set of simplifying assumptions which makes the problem solvable."

It's the best definition I have ever run across, but I can't find an attribution.


"The murder of a beautiful theory by a gang of brutal facts"

Attributed to Herbert Spenser, but that is disputed.

Angel Pine

"There's a little bit of death in a lie."

I was sure, for many years, that it came from Joseph Conrad's *Lord Jim*, but I (and Google) haven't been able to find it (or variants) anywhere.

Martin Butler

If your still taking submissions of quotes this one is attributed to comedian Billy Connolly by his wife and Biographer Pamela Stephenson in "Billy"

"Avoid people who say the know the answer. Keep the company of those who are trying to understand the question"

It one of the truest things i have ever heard.


How about...A man is old as old as the woman he feels.