August 12, 2014

What is the greatest sentence ever uttered by a human being?

I'm guessing it's not "By the way, I thought of a good contest for your blog: What is the greatest sentence ever uttered by a human being?," which is something somebody uttered to me via email just now.

And I'm sure it's not: "I'm guessing it's not 'By the way, I thought of a good contest for your blog: What is the greatest sentence ever uttered by a human being?,' which is something somebody uttered to me via email just now."

194 comments:

rhhardin said...

Madam I'm Adam.

madAsHell said...

There is a list.
http://theamericanscholar.org/ten-best-sentences/

Ann Althouse said...

"There is a list."

From that list:

"Anger was washed away in the river along with any obligation."—Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

"Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama, in the shape of exceptional happenings, had never stopped there"—Truman Capote, In Cold Blood

Was that the same river… twice?—Ann Althouse

Meade said...

"But he hasn't got anything on," a little child said.

retired said...

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14, Jesus talking the the woman at the well.

AustinRoth said...

It strikes me that most, of not all, of those sentences were NOT uttered, but are rather fictional writings .

I am more interested in the 10 greatest sentences actually uttered (spoken) by a real person.

I will start with JFK's, "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country."

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?

Amichel said...

"Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." Cliché, but cliché for a reason.

Mr. Colby said...

In the beginning was the Word.

James Pawlak said...

"When in the course of human events..."

The Savage Noble said...

"The woman you put here with me--she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." - Adam

Another contest would be to guess the first sentence ever uttered by a human being...

Michael K said...

I'm with Pawlak

mezzrow said...

Greatest? who knows?

This one I've always felt was pretty darned good. At least it nailed me.

Every non-conformist knows, in the depths of his soul, that the place his vanity rejects is the exact same place his nature has assigned him.
- Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Brian said...

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."

Witness said...

Austin - that's not even JFK's best line.

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

Ignorance is Bliss said...


Was that the same river… twice?

Of course not, as your reference makes clear.

That quote would likely make my top ten greatest sentences.

eddie willers said...

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Skyler said...

There is no greatest sentence. It's like saying what's the greatest ice cream flavor. I love strawberry and vanilla and mint chocolate chip. Why must one be deemed "better?"

gspencer said...

"It is finished."

W.B. Picklesworth said...

"Honey, would you like the last cookie?" -my wife

Unknown said...

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Pookie Number 2 said...

"I don't know."

traditionalguy said...

In honor of the American contribution to the Great War, in 1918 as the Allies retreated before the final German offensive breakthrough just 80 miles outside Paris: "Retreat? Hell, we just got here."

Ann Althouse said...

"Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14, Jesus talking the the woman at the well."

Now, I'm sure the best sentence has water in it.

"Meditation and water are wedded forever." My 12th grade English teacher loved that sentence from "Moby Dick."

Ann Althouse said...

"Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters."

Ignorance is Bliss said...

What is the greatest sentence ever uttered by a human being?

If only we had some sort of scientist who was able to determine this sort of thing the world would be a better place.

Alan said...

Take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape!

Bob R said...

It's a tie:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

All right, then, I'll go to hell.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...


"It isn't so much that liberals are ignorant, it's just that they know so much that isn't so." -RR

Cargosquid said...

The greatest sentence ever uttered....the source of great accomplishments:

"HEY! Watch this......!"

knighterrant said...

The greatest sentence is, "Yes, I will."

The most frequently said Last Words are, "Hey dude, watch this!"

lemondog said...

I think, therefore I am

re: war, "Nuts," when asked to surrender.

Jake said...

"Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth."

lol

Ann Althouse said...

"I am more interested in the 10 greatest sentences actually uttered (spoken) by a real person. I will start with JFK's, "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.""

1. That sentence was written. JFK just read it out loud. If you're really into spontaneous utterances, you've got to exclude things like that or we might as well include everything in any book that comes in audiobook form.

2. The word "utter" isn't always limited to the spoken word. In law, we even speak of "uttering a check"!

3. But I think your point is: Something that came straight out of a person's brain. Written word can be like that too. Blogging, for example. Or Jack Kerouac. But I agree that these elaborate, crafted written sentences don't seem to be "uttered."

Ann Althouse said...

What is the greatest sentence a human being ever stuttered?

MadisonMan said...

"You're right."

Short, to the point, and satisfying to hear.

Mark O said...

Jesus wept.

Ann Althouse said...

@Ignorance is Bliss

The unexamined joke is not worth making.

Amichel said...

I concluded my speech by telling them that I was done with politics for the present, and they might all go to hell, and I would go to Texas. -Davy Crockett

Ann Althouse said...

I mean… only the unexplained joke is worth having been made… or something.

Ann Althouse said...

"There is no greatest sentence. It's like saying what's the greatest ice cream flavor. I love strawberry and vanilla and mint chocolate chip. Why must one be deemed "better?""

"GRAPE! I'm gonna get grape, or cherry. They're both... favorites, so either one is good, but if they have both, I'll get grape, because grape is a little more favorite. But if they don't have grape it's like alright its fine, cause cherry's favorite anyway. It's like another favorite, but not as much. Not as much favorite. But they're both good. They're both good."

AustinRoth said...

Ann - OK, then, I will go with Yogi Berra, who when asked what he thought about his team's execution after a particularly bad game, said, "I'm all for it."

;)

Tank said...

Tear down that wall.

N.J. Fentwanger said...

Remember son, the last click is in your heart.

Ann Althouse said...

"'Let me help.' A hundred years or so from now, I believe, a famous novelist will write a classic using that theme. He'll recommend those three words even over 'I love you.'"

rastajenk said...

So a scripted speech doesn't count? That seems harsh. I would think the final sentence of the Gettysburg Address should count for something.

Ann Althouse said...

It should be a short sentence. I think we've figured that out. Right?

lemondog said...

What is the greatest sentence a human being ever stuttered?

"That's All Folks!"

viator said...

If I was going with Dickens I'd have to choose this extended sentence. Also it's apropos. Not uttered though.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period,

Uninterested Observer said...

"Shade is I don't tell you you're ugly but I don't have to tell you because you know you're ugly ... and that's shade."

Dorian Corey

Fen said...

"Your sins are forgiven" - Jesus of Nazareth

MikeR said...

"Jooooooke!"
http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/ausland/europa/More-punk-less-hell/story/10069405
No contest.

Ann Althouse said...

"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

From a list of 40 Churchill quotes.

(Understanding the quote in context, from Shirer, "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich": "[Hitler] had never conceived — nor had anyone else up to that time — that a decisive battle could be decided in the air. Nor perhaps did he yet realize as the dark winter settled over Europe that a handful of British fighter pilots, by thwarting his invasion, had preserved England as a great base for the possible reconquest of the Continent from the west at a later date.... Britain was saved. For nearly a thousand years it had successfully defended itself by sea power. Just in time, its leaders, a very few of them, despite all the bungling (of which these pages have been so replete) in the interwar years, had recognized that air power had become decisive in the mid-twentieth century and the little fighter plane and its pilot the chief shield for defense. As Churchill told the Commons in another memorable peroration on August 20, when the battle in the skies still raged and its outcome was in doubt, 'never in field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.'"

Ann Althouse said...

Here are "The 40 Best Quotes from Ronald Reagan."

My favorite is: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

That one is an utterance within an utterance, which could be a subcategory.

Ann Althouse said...

"What is the greatest sentence a human being ever stuttered?"

"This is my generation, baby."

Larry J said...

knighterrant said...
The greatest sentence is, "Yes, I will."

The most frequently said Last Words are, "Hey dude, watch this!"


Often combined with "Here, hold my beer."

viator said...

Churchill (as noted by others),

"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

and Franklin

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

are a rich source of immortal uttered sentences:

Bill Crawford said...

"One small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind." N. Armstrong

AJ Lynch said...

"We don't know what we don't know"

Uttered by a CSC executive back in 1988 or 1989 when discussing our systems problems [I am withholding her name but she was spot on]. And yeah I know Rumsfeld said something similar during Iraq War.

Molly said...

God is love, and he who abides in love, abides in God, and God in him.

Todd said...

Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

mikeski said...

"Another contest would be to guess the first sentence ever uttered by a human being..."

Fifty-fifty chance between the caveman equivalents of "look out!" and "wanna ****?"

Basil said...

I'll go with a three way tie:

1) "Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few."

2) "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

3) "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

m stone said...

"I love you."

Uttered by many, enduring (mostly), heartfelt, and shared.

MnMark said...

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."

AJ Lynch said...

"Yeah but how do your bank employees really feel about having to wear those Mouseketeer ears?"

My half-drunk wiseass question to a Midlantic Bank exec after he went on and on about how great it was and how fruitful it had been for his bank after it adopted the management techniques ala Disneyland's customer service model.



Mark Nielsen said...

I'm pretty sure it's not "Yes we can!"

Tank said...

There's no such thing as a free lunch.

MF

AReasonableMan said...

"Pass the Dutchie pon the left hand side"

AJ Lynch said...

"Philadelphia is the only city, where you can experience the thrill of victory and the agony of reading about it the next day."

Mike Schmidt, Hall of Fame third basemen.

Anthony said...

My vote is for Armstrong's. Although I prefer "Tranquility base here...the Eagle has landed" as those were the very first words spoken from another planetary body.

AJ Lynch said...

Most people want to do someone else's job not their own. That is why really big organizations are so screwed up.

Michael said...

Surely Lincoln or Churchill. I'll go with Lincoln:

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

The Crack Emcee said...

They're going to owe us a lot of money!"

Martin Luther KIng, Jr.

William said...

As a sub topic, please consider the passing away of famous last words. In the old days, people would take the trouble to say a few memorable words before croaking. "What an actor the world loses in me." "Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees." "Comedy is hard." .....I would hope that the publicist of some celeb would brief his client on some snappy words to say in the ambulance or leave in the suicide note. The words of the dying always have more impact and drama than prepared speeches.

David Smith said...

"Hold my beer and watch this!"

MathMom said...

James Pawlak -

Perfect. Thank you.

The quotes from Jesus fail the first test - to be uttered by a human being.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat." Churchill to his new unity cabinet, 13 May, 1940.

Gahrie said...

One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind

Ann Althouse said...

Anything by a woman yet?

Half these utterances were probably first said by a woman, regarded as insignificant, then said by a man, and everybody applauded.

mtrobertsattorney said...

"A spontaneous interest in natural beauty is the mark of a good soul." Kant, A Critique of Judgment.

chillblaine said...

"We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender..."

Hagar said...

"My water just broke"?

madAsHell said...

There is a list.

This is the only one I completely understand.

"This private estate was far enough away from the explosion so that its bamboos, pines, laurel, and maples were still alive, and the green place invited refugees—partly because they believed that if the Americans came back, they would bomb only buildings; partly because the foliage seemed a center of coolness and life, and the estate’s exquisitely precise rock gardens, with their quiet pools and arching bridges, were very Japanese, normal, secure; and also partly (according to some who were there) because of an irresistible, atavistic urge to hide under leaves."

lemondog said...

Anything by a woman yet?

Is that a banana in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

Fritz said...

There's a really long one embedded somewhere in "The Fairy Queen" that at least deserves an honorable mention.

Unknown said...

Don't know what you mean by "greatest." Although not most noble, deepest meaning, most universal but brief, succinct, standard (for me always means recognition of a loss of control of the situation as well as my tongue), and most memorable to my kids (they can forget about anything else I say):

"Sh*t"

which is somewhat related to "watch this," "hold my beer," etc.

I try not to use foul and coarse language, sometimes it just comes out. Like right after I realized I had zero traction (ice) and immediately before I hit the wall. It was 15 years ago and I still hear about it.

Pettifogger said...

Winston Churchill:
We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

phantommut said...

From nowhere in particular: "It seemed like a good idea at the time." Utterly human.

Tank said...

White heterosexual men should pay for all tampons.

Valenti

St. George said...

"Take your stinkin' paws off of me, you damn dirty ape!"

Jake Holmes said...

Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani

Larry J said...

"I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected."

- General William Tecumseh Sherman

Jake said...

veni vidi vici

Gahrie said...

Half these utterances were probably first said by a woman, regarded as insignificant, then said by a man, and everybody applauded.

Written like a true feminist.

Crack's version reads:

Half these utterances were probably first said by a Black man, regarded as insignificant, then said by a White man, and everybody applauded.

David said...

Ann Althouse said...
Anything by a woman yet?


"Let them eat cake."

Is there a quote by a woman that is more widely repeated than that?

David said...

"I apologize."

--Multiple Speakers But Not Nearly Enough.

Hagar said...

"It seemed like a good idea at the time."

Steve McQueen's character in "The Magnificent Seven."

Jessica said...

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

Hagar said...

about his mythical friend, who stripped himself naked and dived into a cactus patch.

Doug said...

Nothing is over until WE say it's over!

Mark O said...

The sentence "Jesus wept," was not uttered by Jesus. Nor by a fictional character.

PackerBronco said...

In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.

-- Aeschylus

PackerBronco said...

"Nuts"

--- Gen. McAuliffe at Bastogne when asked to surrender

viator said...

An amusing story with Churchill utterances.

Violet Asquith, herself a formidable and notable British woman, and Prime Minister Herbert Asquith's intelligent and perceptive daughter, recalled her first conversation with Winston Churchill at age 19 in 1906. “Curse ruthless time!” Churchill said savagely, bemoaning the fact that he was already thirty-two.

"“Curse our mortality! How cruelly short is the allotted span for all we must cram into it.” And he burst forth into an eloquent diatribe on the shortness of human life, the immensity of possible human accomplishment -- a theme so well exploited by the poets, prophets and philosophers of all ages that it might seem difficult to invest it with a new and startling significance. Yet for me, she recalled, he did so, in a torrent of magnificent language which appeared to be both effortless and inexhaustible and ended up with the words I shall always remember: “We are all worms. But I do believe I am a glow-worm.”"

After the encounter, she rushed into her father’s bedroom. Asquith and his daughter were extremely close, and always discussed the day’s events before he went to sleep. Violet announced that for the first time in her life she had seen genius.

“Well, Winston would certainly agree with you there,” the Prime Minister replied. “But I’m not sure you will find many others of the same mind.”

Doug said...

Ann - OK, then, I will go with Yogi Berra, who when asked what he thought about his team's execution after a particularly bad game, said, "I'm all for it."

No, that was John McKay, head coach of the hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their early years.

Jack Richardson said...

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”


― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Stoutcat said...

Bob R. at 10:59 AM:
"It's a tie:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

"All right, then, I'll go to hell."


I see what you did there, Dude. I'm going with, "All right then, I'll go to hell." Love that discussion.

Julie C said...

"Here's my counteroffer to your counteroffer: go fuck yourself." Al Swearingen

"The world ends when you're dead. Until then, you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man and give some back." Al Swearingen

Been watching Deadwood again.

Lucien said...

"My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three, and, save for a pocket of warmth in the darkest past, nothing of her subsists within the hollows and dells of memory, over which, if you can still stand my style (I am writing under observation), the sun of my infancy had set: surely, you all know those redolent remnants of day suspended, with the midges, about some hedge in bloom or suddenly entered and traversed by the rambler, at the bottom of a hill, in the summer dusk; a furry warmth, golden midges."
-- Nabokov, "Lolita"

dreams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
66 said...

For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.


Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.


Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.

Beta Rube said...

"Why can't a woman be more like a man?"-- Henry Higgins

Rusty said...

What is the greatest sentence ever uttered by a human being?

What monkeys?

EDH said...

"I don't give a fuck about your war, or your president."

- Snake Pliskin

Jay Vogt said...

Vine, vidi, vici.

Hard to do more with less than that.

Jay Vogt said...

damn auto-correct

. . . vini

jussendavis said...

The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

"I would prefer not to."

TCR James said...

"Fuck it, dude. Let's go bowling."

THOMASt WREN said...

"What is the greatest sentence a human being ever stuttered?"

Mel Tillis for "Whataburger":: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGLcNR1sWIc

Fandor said...

"Stand back, I don't know how big this thing gets".

Fandor said...

"I wouldn't want to be the man who walked in this room".

Fandor said...

"You strike me as a cautious man. You wear both belt and suspenders".

Fandor said...

"Tennis, anyone?"

Freeman Hunt said...

Best crafted sentence or best sentence due to context or idea conveyed?

The Bible is full of most excellent sentences. Some of my favorites that seem less popular:

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?" - God in Job

"Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people." - from Genesis 25

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." - from John 1

Others:

"If, in picking a quarrel, each party declined to go more than three-eighths of the way, and if in making friends, each was ready to go five-eighths of the way--why, there would be more reconciliations than quarrels!" - Lewis Carroll, Eight or Nine Wise Words About Letter-Writing

"And so the Trojans buried Hector breaker of horses." - Homer, The Iliad

As for best crafted; I'll have to think about it more.

traditionalguy said...

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile, this day shall gentle his condition.

Freeman Hunt said...

There are some excellently crafted sentences that convey total foolishness.

Fandor said...

"Baby, I don't care".

Fandor said...

"I don't like to kneel. It makes my nylons bag".

Freeman Hunt said...

"If I should die, think only this of me;
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England." - Rupert Brooke, The Soldier

Freeman Hunt said...

"For even the purest delight may pall,
And power must fail, and the pride must fall,
And the love of the dearest friends grow small—
But the glory of the Lord is all in all." - Richard Doddridge Blackmore, Dominus Illuminatio Mea

lemondog said...

Be bold and might forces will come to your aid.

mccullough said...

Shit happens.

lemondog said...

The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. Those nations always progress through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith,
from spiritual faith to great courage,
from great courage to liberty,
from liberty to abundance,
from abundance to selfishness,
from selfishness to complacency,
from complacency to dependency,
from dependency back into bondage."

"Attributed to ALEXANDER FRASER TYTLER, LORD WOODHOUSELEE. Unverified"

Freeman Hunt said...

"A man may know that nobody has insulted him, but that he has invented the insult for himself, has lied and exaggerated to make it picturesque, has caught at a word and made a mountain out of a molehill--he knows that himself, yet he will be the first to take offense, and will revel in his resentment till he feels great pleasure in it.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

“And what's strange, what would be marvelous, is not that God should really exist; the marvel is that such an idea, the idea of the necessity of God, could enter the head of such a savage, vicious beast as man.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

"But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." - Amos 5

David said...

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Michael E. Lopez said...

A few candidates -- not necessarily what I'd select as a final set, but the first few that came to mind.

1) Sed omnia praeclara tam difficilia quam rara sunt. (Spinoza)

2) μολὼν λαβέ (Various Lacedaemonians)

3) Cogito ergo sum. (Descartes)

4) I do. (Innumerable couples)

5) Have you no decency, sir? (Welch)

6) ...I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. (Jefferson)

7) Vi faccio vedere come muore un Italiano! (Quattrocchi)

8) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (Jesus, translated, likely paraphrased)

9) It is well that war is so terrible–we would grow too fond of it. (Lee, likely paraphrased)

10) Nuts. (Gen. McAuliffe; technically written)

Æthelflæd said...

"Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other."

Smilin' Jack said...

Anything by a woman yet?

"I'm not pregnant!"

Tibore said...

"Ann Althouse said...
What is the greatest sentence a human being ever stuttered?"


Mel Blanc: Bble bble bble th-th-that's all folks!

Æthelflæd said...

Patrick Henry had some good ones, besides his more well-known quotes.

"Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell; and George the Third — may profit by their example."

"If this be treason, make the most of it."

"I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past."

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

"If lovin' you is wrong, I don't want to be right."

Paul Brinkley said...

"I'll go."

clint said...

"I do."

Rusty said...

How hard can it be.

Sharkcutie said...

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

--One Hundred Years of Solitude

Sharkcutie said...

http://americanbookreview.org/100bestlines.asp

Mitch H. said...

"The one thing you can't trade for your heart's desire is your heart." - Lois Bujold, Memory

The quotes from Jesus fail the first test - to be uttered by a human being.

Bah! That's Sabellianism, you heretic! ^_^

Lexington Green said...

V. S. Naipaul — 'The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.'

Barry Dauphin said...

"No, honey, that dress doesn't make you look fat."

-spoken by more than one human being.

MadisonMan said...

Half these utterances were probably first said by a woman

Not my example.

lemondog said...

"Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea."

Dylan Thomas Fern Hill last stanza

Sofa King said...

"The Eagle has landed."

Sofa King said...

I think all planned speeches and writings should be disqualified, as they are not utterances.

Bill said...

Take me instead.

- Maximilien Kolbe, Auschwitz, 1941

Zedediah Grimm said...

"Do or Do Not ... There is No Try" -- Gandalf the Grey

lemondog said...

It is finished.

rastajenk said...

"I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past."

Must've been a horseplayer.

The Godfather said...

I've learned a lot from these comments. This is a learned and creative group. I have just one correction, to MathMom, 11:41 am. Unless you were joking when you said "The quotes from Jesus fail the first test - to be uttered by a human being." Christian theologians determined no later than the Council of Nicaea (325) that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. However, I do agree that it's somewhat unfair to put Churchill, Lincoln, et al. up against the Son of God in a quotations contest.

Scott said...

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two road diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost

Basil said...


Had to check and make sure it was one sentence - Bill Shakespeare, Sonnet 29 -

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Now that is a sentence!!!!

GMC70 said...

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Always true.

Nathan said...

Why is it a given that the greatest sentence ever uttered would be in English?

lemondog said...

More Frost:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

Spontaneous utterances recorded and repeated excluded, leaves me thinking of words I heard with others which became public for the first time with that utterance. For me, the greatest sentence, with outcomes I might not have wished, is 'I shall not seek the nomination of my party to be your president..' Lyndon Johnson.

lemondog said...

Ouch

Fen said...

However, I do agree that it's somewhat unfair to put Churchill, Lincoln, et al. up against the Son of God in a quotations contest.

Agreed. But I think its the greatest quote because the concept of Forgiveness is a pillar of Western Civ. And I don't think we would have gotten this far without it.

I'm not into organized religion, but I remember from my studies what a novel concept this was and how it changed the world. For better.

Fen said...

Half these atrocities were probably first suggested by a woman, and then carried out by men

/fixed

JHapp said...

"So let me be clear, Collective bargaining isn't a right, it is an expensive entitlement." - Scott Walker

retired said...

Luke 1

And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

Mark said...

Yes, Jesus was fully human, but He is also fully God, so it's a bit slanted to choose anything He said. As for the Old Testament quotes, that was the Holy Spirit speaking through humans, so again it is not really fair.

Rather, the greatest sentence ever uttered by a human being was, in fact, said by a woman - and because of saying it, she is exalted above all other humans, man or woman --
"I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done unto me according to thy word."

EVERYTHING that follows regarding Jesus, Christianity, and YOUR salvation hinged upon Mary giving her fiat, saying "Yes" to God.

Mark said...

OK, so "retired" was at least on the right track (and a minute quicker on the "publish" button).

sdharms said...

"I will show you how an Italian dies" as he ripped off his blindfold while standing in his own grave in Iraq. He was shot by Sadaams men. Fabrizio Quattrocchi

Alan said...

I am the wrath of god, the earth upon which I tread sees me and trembles.

Static Ping said...

"Molon labe"
("come and take")
-- Leonidas

Short, simple, extremely meaningful, extremely historically important, funny, tragic, inspiring. About as good as it gets for a human speaking to another human about human things. Of course, it does need some context to get the full effect.

Smilin' Jack said...

Ann Althouse said...
Anything by a woman yet?

Half these utterances were probably first said by a woman, regarded as insignificant, then said by a man, and everybody applauded.


Next you'll be asking for reparations.

Smilin' Jack said...

If you don't think too good, don't think too much.
--Ted Williams

MikeMangum said...

"The steak is ready."

madAsHell said...

"Who ordered the double cheese and sausage?"
"Right here, dude"

-Fast Times at Ridgemont High

mrams said...

'I don't believe what I just saw.' Jack Buck

mrams said...

Greatest excited utterance: "Behind the bag…it gets through Buckner.'

The Godfather said...

"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

(I know. Disqualified. More than one sentence.)

Bob R said...

@Stoutcat - I would have pointed it out, but I was wondering if anyone would notice. It's a pretty damned good answer to the question, though.

Deb said...

Did you ever feel like a pair of brown shoes in a room full of tuxedos? George Gobel

Robert Cook said...

"So let me be clear, Collective bargaining isn't a right, it is an expensive entitlement." - Scott Walker

Wow, that's pretty good. It's about as direct a statement by a politician I've ever heard that he hates working people. He may be a shit but at least he's honest about it.

Todd said...



Robert Cook said...
"So let me be clear, Collective bargaining isn't a right, it is an expensive entitlement." - Scott Walker

Wow, that's pretty good. It's about as direct a statement by a politician I've ever heard that he hates working people. He may be a shit but at least he's honest about it.
8/13/14, 7:22 AM


Collective bargaining is not about working people, it is about the collective. It is right there in the name for goodness sakes.

Mitch H. said...

Todd, lefties like Robert Cook don't really believe in *a* man, they believe in "the working man", nor do they believe in a person, but rather "the people". They privilege the collective and the abstract over the individual. This is why they believe what they believe, and never quite understand why their principles never actually get implemented - only a series of monsters wearing their faces committing atrocities, mocking their truest beliefs. Those communists that killed all those people, enslaved those countries? They were individuals, evil individuals - but The Party - The Party has the answer. And when The Party is discredited, and the collective can't be sustained, they shift to The Ideal, because their ideals can't betray them the way that the heroes of the people, being wicked men, and The Party, being corrupted by conspiracies of wicked men - could, and did, betray their trust.

Fen said...

Robert Cook: "... blah blah heard that he hates working people blah with more marxist crap on top"

Funny how all those working people abandoned the unions in droves once they Walker made it possible.

I guess even the working people hate the working people, eh? Thats why they need super smart people like you to tell them what to do.

Jason said...

Half these utterances were probably first said by a woman, regarded as insignificant, then said by a man, and everybody applauded.

Nichevo said...

If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.

--Juan Ramon Jimenez

I love my country because it is mine.

--Stephen Orbelian

George Warburton said...

I've got a headache.

lemondog said...

Follow the money

JHapp said...

But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know. - Donald Rumsfeld
I was thinking about how I probably have said one of the stupidest 10 things every said by a human being and maybe the all time worst. Then it occurred to me that Rumsfeld has a good one that would make both list.