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A collection of quotes by Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr on mind, enemies, friends, poems, ideas, books, belief, faith, life, aging, sanity, reading and evolution.

56 Top Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr Quotes

Quick Facts

Famous As: Writer, Physician

Born On: August 29, 1809

Died On: October 7, 1894

Born In: Cambridge

Died At Age: 85

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. was an American polymath, poet and writer. He is regarded as one of the finest writers of his era by his contemporaries. Holmes attended the Phillip Academy and then went on to study at the prestigious Harvard University, from where he earned his degree in 1829. Later, he decided to study law but changed his mind and instead acquired his MD from Harvard Medical School. Holmes had been a poet from an early age and some of his better known works include ‘Poems’, ‘Songs in Many Keys’, ‘The Chambered Nautilus’, ‘The Deacon’s Masterpiece’ and ‘Old Ironsides’ among others. He had also written prose and some of the more important among them include ‘Over the Teacups’, ‘The Professor at the Breakfast Table’, ‘The Poet at the Breakfast Table’ and the path breaking ‘The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table’. Some of his noted novels include ‘A Moral Antipathy’, ‘Elsie Venner’ and ‘The Guardian Angel’. Holmes was also a teacher at the Dartmouth Medical School and later taught at Harvard Medical School as well. Holmes was without doubt one of the most brilliant men of his era. We bring to you a treasure trove of quotes that have been excerpted from Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr’s novels, books and writings. Read on to explore a compilation of some of the best known quotes by Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr, covering various aspects of life.
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A man's mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

What refuge is there for the victim who is oppressed with the feeling that there are a thousand new books he ought to read, while life is only long enough for him to attempt to read a hundred?

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Nothing is so common-place as to wish to be remarkable.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Every now and then a man's mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

It's faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth living.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtasked

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

The books we read should be chosen with great care, that they may be, as an Egyptian king wrote over his library,'The medicines of the soul.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Many people die with their music still in them. Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it time runs out.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Beware how you take away hope from another human being

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Death tugs at my ear and says, 'Live. I am coming.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

The sound of a kiss is not so loud as that of a cannon, but its echo lasts a great deal longer.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

When I think of talking, it is of course with a woman. For talking at its best being an inspiration, it wants a corresponding divine quality of receptiveness, and where will you find this but in a woman?

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Man has his will, but woman has her way.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Speak clearly if you speak at all, carve every word before you let it fall.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

For the simplicity on this side of complexity, I wouldn't give you a fig. But for the simplicity on the other side of complexity, for that I would give you anything I have.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Learn the sweet magic of a cheerful face.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

To obtain a man's opinion of you, make him mad.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Science is the topography of ignorance.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Alas for those that never sing, But die with all their music in them!

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

The great thing in this world, is not so much where we are, but in which direction we are moving.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Science is a first-rate piece of furniture for a man's upper chamber, if he has common sense on the ground floor.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of an eye. The more light you shine on it, the more it will contract.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

It is the province of knowledge to speak and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Youth fades, love droops, the leaves of friendship fall; A mother's secret hope outlives them all.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Why can’t somebody give us a list of things everybody thinks and nobody says, and another list of the things that everybody says but nobody thinks?

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Take your needle, my child, and work at your pattern; it will come out a rose by and by. Life is like that - one stitch at a time taken patiently and the pattern will come out all right like the embroidery.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

It is a good plan to have a book with you in all places and at all times. If you are presently without, hurry without delay to the nearest shop and buy one of mine.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

A child's education should begin at least one hundred years before he is born.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Even a dog knows the difference between being kicked and being stumbled over.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Trouble makes us one with every human being in the world - and unless we touch others, we're out of touch with life.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Nothing is more common than the wish to be remarkable

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

I hate paying taxes. But I love the civilization they give me

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Man is born a predestined idealist, for he is born to act. To act is to affirm the worth of an end, and to persist in affirming the worth of an end is to make an ideal.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Have faith and pursue the unknown end.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Yet in opinions look not always back,-- Your wake is nothing, mind the coming track; Leave what you've done for what you have to do; Don't be "consistent," but be simply true.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Life is a fatal complaint, and an eminently contagious one.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Love is the master-key that opens the gates of happiness, of hatred, of jealousy, and, most easily of all, the gate of fear.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Put not your trust in money, but put your money in trust.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Chicago sounds rough to the maker of verse. One comfort we have - Cincinnati sounds worse.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Old Time, in whose banks we deposit our notes Is a miser who always wants guineas for groats; He keeps all his customers still in arrears By lending them minutes and charging them years.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprang up.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Pretty much all the honest truth telling in the world is done by children.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Life transforming ideas have always come to me through books.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

The real religion of the world comes from women much more than from men--from mothers most of all, who carry the key of our souls in their bosoms.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

There's nothing that keeps its youth, so far as I know, but a tree and truth.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Nature, when she invented, manufactured, and patented her authors, contrived to make critics out of the chips that were left.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

My experience with public libraries is that the first volume of the book I inquire for is out, unless I happen to want the second, when that is out.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Truth, when not sought after, rarely comes to light.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Every library should try to complete on something, if it were only the history of pinheads.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.