230 Mark Twain Quotes on Life, Politics, Travel & More

This collection of the greatest Mark Twain quotes include more lessons on life, death, and everything in between that you’ll need to live a full life.

So, if you’re in need of an anchor that will hold your feet firmly on the ground, then these top 230 quotes are definitely a must-read!

Mark Twain is the author of what is considered to be some of the first greatest American novels—The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

But more than his talent for writing great tales, Mark Twain also left his legacy in the form of words of wisdom many of us still look to when we need advice and inspiration.

Learn more about this through the collection below.

And make sure to read these John Steinbeck quotes and Ernest Hemingway quotes.

Best Mark Twain Quotes

Mark Twain Quotes - Never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow just as well.

1. “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow just as well.”

Mark Twain Quotes on Reading

2. “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”

Mark Twain Quotes About the Truth

3. “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

Mark Twain Quotes - Classic - a book which people praise and don't read.

4. “Classic—a book which people praise and don’t read.”

Mark Twain Quotes on Finding Yourself on the Side of the Majority

5. “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

Mark Twain Quotes on Education

6. “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

Mark Twain Quotes About Friends and Books

7. “Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience—this is the ideal life.”

Mark Twain Quotes About the Fear of Death

8. “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”

Mark Twain Quotes About Fools

9. “The trouble ain’t that there are too many fools, but that the lightning ain’t distributed right.”

Mark Twain Quotes on Life

Mark Twain Quotes on Telling the Truth

10. “Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it.”

Mark Twain Quotes - The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

11. “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”

Mark Twain Quotes - Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.

12. “Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.”

Mark Twain Quotes - Don't part with your illusions.

13. “Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone, you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.”

Mark Twain Quotes - Always do what is right.

14. “Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind and astound the other.”

Mark Twain Quotes - I've lived through some terrible things in my life.

15. “I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”

Mark Twain Quotes - All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.

16. “All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.”

Mark Twain Quotes - The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.

17. “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Mark Twain Quotes - Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life.

18. “Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life.”

Mark Twain Quotes - Life is short, break the rules.

19. “Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that makes you smile.”

Mark Twain Quotes - Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.

20. “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

Mark Twain Quotes - Let us endeavor so to live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.

21. “Let us endeavor so to live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”

Mark Twain Quotes - The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.

22. “The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”

Mark Twain Quotes - The heart is the real fountain of youth.

23. “The heart is the real fountain of youth.”

Mark Twain Quotes - Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.

24. “Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.”

Funny Mark Twain Quotes

25. “Laughter without a tinge of philosophy is but a sneeze of humor. Genuine humor is replete with wisdom.”

26. “Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

27. “I did not attend his funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”

28. “Name the greatest of all inventors. Accident.”

29. “I was born modest, but it didn’t last.”

30. “I was educated once—it took me years to get over it.”

31. “Never refuse to do a kindness unless the act would work great injury to yourself, and never refuse to take a drink under any circumstances.”

32. “There are no people who are quite so vulgar as the over-refined.”

33. “The funniest things are forbidden.”

34. “The only very marked difference between the average civilized man and the average savage is that the one is gilded and the other is painted.”

35. “When your watch gets out of order, you have a choice of two things to do—throw it in the fire or take it to the watch-tinker. The former is the quickest.”

36. “When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”

37. “Don’t wake up a woman in love. Let her dream, so that she does not weep when she returns to her bitter reality.”

38. “English humor is hard to appreciate though, unless you are trained to it. The English papers, in reporting my speeches, always put ‘laughter’ in the wrong place.”

39. “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.”

Mark Twain Quotes on Politics and Society

40. “Loyalty to country—always. Loyalty to the government—when it deserves it.”

41. “I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn’t know.”

42. “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

43. “A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

44. “Let men label you as they may, if you alone of all the nation decide one way, and that way be the right way by your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country, hold up your head for you have nothing to be ashamed of.”

45. “We have the best government that money can buy.”

46. “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

47. “The signs of excessive indulgence in this destructive pastime are easily detectable. They are these: a disposition to eat, to drink, to smoke, to meet together convivially, to laugh, to joke, and tell indelicate stories—and mainly, a yearning to paint pictures.”

48. “Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.”

49. “Some people scorn a cat and think it not an essential; but the Clemens tribe are not of these.”

More Famous Mark Twain Quotes

50. “Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.”

51. “God created war so that Americans would learn geography.”

52. “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

53. “To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.”

54. “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.”

55. “It is wiser to find out than suppose.”

56. “All of us contain music and truth, but most of us can’t get it out.”

57. “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.”

58. “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”

59. “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

60. “No real gentleman will tell the naked truth in the presence of ladies.”

61. “Honor is a harder master than law.”

62. “Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts or happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever flowing through one’s head.”

63. “Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

64. “A half-truth is the most cowardly of lies.”

Mark Twain Quotes on Travel, Adventures, and Happiness

65. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness; and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.”

66. “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

67. “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer someone else up.”

68. “To eat is human; to digest, divine.”

69. “There is no sadder thing than a young pessimist, except an old optimist.”

70. “All good things arrive unto them that wait and don’t die in the meantime.”

71. “There is no unhappiness like the misery of sighting land and work again after a cheerful, careless voyage.”

72. “The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become until he goes abroad.”

73. “The secret of success is making your vocation your vacation.”

74. “They spell it ‘da Vinci’ and pronounce it ‘da Vinchy.’ Foreigners always spell better than they pronounce.”

75. “One must travel to learn.”

76. “Travel has no longer any charm for me. I have seen all the foreign countries I want to except heaven and hell, and I have only a vague curiosity about one of those.”

77. “I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”

78. “It liberates the vandal to travel––you never saw a bigoted, opinionated, stubborn, narrow-minded, self-conceited, almighty mean man in your life but he had stuck in one place since he was born and thought God made the world and dyspepsia and bile for his especial comfort and satisfaction.”

79. “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Inspirational Mark Twain Quotes

80. “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’Tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

81. “Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination.”

82. “Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economize it.”

83. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

84. “A clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory.”

85. “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

86. “We ought never to do wrong when people are looking.”

87. “There are basically two types of people—people who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.”

88. “Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.”

89. “Prosperity is the best protector of principle.”

Mark Twain Quotes on Writing

90. “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very.’ Your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

91. “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t.”

92. “Books are for people who wish they were somewhere else.”

93. “You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, burning bushes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help?”

94. “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

95. “Books are the liberated spirits of men.”

96. “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”

97. “If books are not good company, where will I find it?”

98. “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.”

99. “His head was an hour-glass; it could stow an idea, but it had to do it a grain at a time, not the whole idea at once.”

Mark Twain Quotes That Will Make You Think

100. “Any emotion, if it is sincere, is involuntary.”

101. “The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.”

102. “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.”

103. “There’s one way to find out if a man is honest: ask him; if he says yes, you know he’s crooked.”

104. “The man who is a pessimist before 48 knows too much; if he is an optimist after it, he knows too little.”

105. “I don’t like to commit myself to heaven and hell—you see, I have friends in both places.”

106. “I have never taken any exercise—except sleeping and resting—and I never intend to take any.”

107. “Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered—either by themselves or by others.”

108. “The most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know and then stop.”

109. “The finest clothing made is a person’s own skin, but, of course, society demands something more than this.”

110. “Man was made at the end of the week’s work, when God was tired.”

111. “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”

112. “I make it a rule never to smoke while I’m sleeping.”

113. “Only one thing is impossible for God—to find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.”

114. “The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.”

Mark Twain Quotes on Education and Knowledge

115. “In a good bookroom, you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.”

116. “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.”

117. “Education—the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty.”

118. “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

119. “It is noble to teach oneself, but still nobler to teach others—and less trouble.”

120. “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”

121. “Out of all the things I have lost, I miss my mind the most.”

122. “A full belly is little worth where the mind is starved.”

123. “The man with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

124. Be virtuous and you will be eccentric.”

Mark Twain Quotes on Death and Pain

125. “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

126. “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

127. “The trouble is not in dying for a friend, but in finding a friend worth dying for.”

128. “Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it.”

129. “The source of all humor is not laughter, but sorrow.”

Mark Twain Quotes on Love, Relationships, and Friendship

130. “Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.”

131. “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

132. “Necessity is the mother of taking chances.”

133. “What would men be without women? Scarce, sir. Mighty scarce.”

134. “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

135. “When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain.”

136. “Always respect your superiors; if you have any.”

137. “What do we call love, hate, charity, revenge, humanity, forgiveness? Different results of the master impulse—the necessity of securing one’s self-approval.”

138. “Love is not a product of reasonings and statistics. It just comes—no one knows whence, and cannot explain itself.”

139. “If you want love and abundance in your life, give it away.”

Mark Twain Quotes on Religion

140. “But who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most?”

141. “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”

142. “Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.”

143. “Ours is a terrible religion. The fleets of the world could swim in spacious comfort in the innocent blood it has spilt.”

144. “The easy confidence with which I know another man’s religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.”

145. “The higher animals have no religion, and we are told that they are going to be left out in the Hereafter.”

146. “If we were meant to talk more than listen, we would have two mouths and one ear.”

147. “Man is a religious animal. He is the only religious animal. He is the only animal that has the true religion—several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight.”

148. “Conservatism is the blind and fear-filled worship of dead radicals.”

149. “In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are, in almost every case, second-hand and without examination.”

150. “No sinner is ever saved after the first twenty minutes of a sermon.”

151. “It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things—freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.”

152. “Man is kind enough when he is not excited by religion.”

153. “Zeal and sincerity can carry a new religion further than any other missionary except fire and sword.”

154. “God puts something good and lovable in every man His hands create.”

Mark Twain Quotes on Values and Morals

155. “Honesty—the best of all the lost arts.”

156. “Each must decide for himself or herself alone what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn’t.”

157. “It doesn’t make no difference whether you do right or wrong. A person’s conscience ain’t got no sense, and just goes for him anyway.”

158. “Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from making bad decisions.”

159. “With courage, you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.”

160. “Loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.”

161. “Human beings can be awful cruel to one another.”

162. “Each of you—for himself or herself, by himself or herself, and on his or her own responsibility—must speak.”

163. “It is better to deserve honors and not have them, than to have them and not deserve them.”

164. “A little more kindness, a little less speed, a little more giving, a little less greed, a little more smile, a little less frown, a little less kicking, a man while he’s down, a little more ‘We’, a little less ‘I’, a little more laugh, a little less cry, a little more flowers, on the pathway of life, and fewer on graves, at the end of the strife.”

165. “Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.”

166. “Do something every day that you don’t want to do. This is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain.”

167. “You meet people who forget you. You forget people you meet. But sometimes, you meet those people you can’t forget—those are your friends.”

168. “I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want.”

169. “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would rather have talked.”

Meaningful Mark Twain Quotes

170. “Never have a battle of wits with an unarmed person.”

171. “You can find in a text whatever you bring, if you will stand between it and the mirror of your imagination. You may not see your ears, but they will be there.”

172. “No amount of evidence will ever persuade an idiot.”

173. “The more things are forbidden, the more popular they become.”

174. “How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again!”

175. “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”

176. “If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.”

177. “If you have no will to change it, you have no right to criticize it.”

178. “If you want to change the future, you must change what you’re doing in the present.”

179. “When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear.”

180. “To believe yourself brave is to be brave; it is the only essential thing.”

181. “Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed.”

182. “Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them, the rest of us could not succeed.”

183. “A human being has a natural desire to have more of a good thing than he needs.”

184. “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”

Wise Mark Twain Quotes

185. “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

186. “Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”

187. “You can’t reason with your heart; it has its own laws, and thumps about things which the intellect scorns.”

188. “Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

189. “The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.”

190. “Man will do many things to get himself loved, he will do all things to get himself envied.”

191. “A man’s character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation.”

192. “The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.”

193. “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

194. “A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.”

195. “Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.”

196. “The lack of money is the root of all evil.”

197. “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

198. “Action speaks louder than words, but not nearly as often.”

199. “If we would learn what the human race really is at the bottom, we need only observe it in election times.”

Short but Interesting Mark Twain Quotes

200. “All generalizations are false, including this one.”

201. “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”

202. “Apparently, there is nothing that cannot happen today.”

203. “Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.”

204. “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”

205. “Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.”

206. “Hunger is the handmaid of genius.”

207. “It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”

208. “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”

209. “If you hold a cat by the tail, you learn things you cannot learn any other way.”

Mark Twain Quotes From ‘The Mysterious Stranger’

210. “You are not you—you have no body, no blood, no bones. You are but a thought.”

211. “Nothing exists; all is a dream. God, man, the world, the sun, the moon, the wilderness of stars—a dream, all a dream. They have no existence. Nothing exists save empty space—and you!”

212. “I myself have no existence; I am but a dream—your dream, a creature of your imagination.”

213. “I know your race. It is made up of sheep. It is governed by minorities, seldom or never by majorities. It suppresses its feelings and its beliefs and follows the handful that makes the most noise.”

214. “Someday, a handful will rise up on the other side and make the most noise—perhaps even a single daring man with a big voice and a determined front will do it, and in a week, all the sheep will wheel and follow him, and witch-hunting will come to a sudden end.”

215. “Only the mad can be happy, and not many of those.”

216. “I have replaced his tin life with a silver-gilt fiction.”

217. “For he did not seem to know any way to do a person a kindness but by killing him.”

218. “I do not like an injurious lie, except when it injures somebody else.”

219. “Every man is a suffering-machine and a happiness-machine combined.”

More Mark Twain Quotes You’ll Love

220. “If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.”

221. “Architects cannot teach nature anything.”

222. “There is nothing in the world like persuasive speech to fuddle the mental apparatus.”

223. “We wish to learn all the curious, outlandish ways of all the different countries, so that we can ‘show off’ and astonish people when we get home. We wish to excite the envy of our untraveled friends with our strange foreign fashions which we can’t shake off.”

224. “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.”

225. “Be good and you will be lonesome.”

226. “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

227. “Familiarity breeds contempt—and children.”

228. “Work is a necessary evil to be avoided.”

229. “Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.”

230. “Frankness is a jewel; only the young can afford it.”

Do You Also Believe Mark Twain’s Pieces of Advice Are Timeless?

Many years may have passed since Mark Twain’s death. However, his works still live on. In fact, they’re even discussed in many classrooms all over the world. The wisdom he wrapped up in his humorous and wonderful stories don’t go unnoticed, and is still a must-read for many people all over the globe.

However, more than this, his many famous lines also still ring in our ears—clear as day. He taught us many things about life, love, adventure, death, society, and many more. His wisdom encompasses everything we face in life. And if there’s one thing we should remember, it’s to live a full life no matter what. Be kind. Be adventurous. Be involved. And love yourself and the whole of humanity.

What’s your favorite quote from Mark Twain? What other lessons did you get from this collection? Tell us about your thoughts in the comments section below.

Amy Finn

Hi. I'm Amy, the founder of this blog. I love quotes and enjoy sharing the best ones with you.

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