Wisdom Quotes

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Are you seeking words of wisdom? Here are the best wisdom quotes and wise sayings to light your way.

Wisdom is one of the most valued human traits and has been since ancient civilization. But what is it exactly?

Some say wisdom second sight or spiritual gift, while others think it’s the result of age and experience. We’ve compiled the best words of wisdom for you so you can decide for yourself.

Top 10 Wisdom Quotes

Wisdom is having things right in your life and knowing why.

William Stafford

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quote "Wisdom is found only in truth"
“Wisdom is found only in truth.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.

Albert Einstein

To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.

Bertrand Russell

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.

Thomas Jeffesron

Wisdom is the power to put our time and our knowledge to the proper use.

Thomas J. Watson
Sophocles quote "Wisdom outweighs any wealth"
Wisdom outweighs any wealth.” – Sophocles

The seat of knowledge is in the head, of wisdom, in the heart.

William Hazlitt

Wisdom is not wisdom when it is derived from books alone.


Quotes about Wisdom

Wisdom is a sacred communion.

Victore Hugo

Wisdom denotes the pursuing of the best ends by the best means.

Francis Hutcheson

The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Phil Jackson quote "Wisdom is always an overmatch for strength"
“Wisdom is always an overmatch for strength.” – Phil Jackson

Wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences.

Norman Cousins

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

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it.

David Starr Jordan

Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another.


Pain makes man think. Thought makes man wise. Wisdom makes life endurable.

John Patrick

Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend a little then to break.

Jane Wells

Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.

Theodore Isaac Rubin

Wisdom is the quality that keeps you from getting into situations where you need it.

Doug Larson

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Proverbs 10:9, ESV

Wisdom is nothing but a preparation of the soul, a capacity, a secret art of thinking, feeling and breathing thoughts of unity at every moment of life.

Hermann Hesse
Daniel Webster quote "Wisdom begins at the end"
“Wisdom begins at the end.” – Daniel Webster

Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.

St. Francis of Assisi

Faith keeps our ships moving, while empathy and the memories of our experiences lead to wisdom.

Suzy Kassem

There is a wisdom of the head, and a wisdom of the heart.

Charles Dickens

Turn your wounds into wisdom.

Oprah Winfrey

On every thorn, delightful wisdom grows. In every rill a sweet instruction flows.

Edward Young

The truest wisdom is a resolute determination.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.

Oprah Winfrey

Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.

Doug Larson

Patience is the companion of wisdom.

Saint Augustine

Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness.

Teddy Roosevelt quote "Nine-tenths of wisdom is being wise in time"
“Nine-tenths of wisdom is being wise in time.” – Theodore Roosevelt

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.


Cleverness is not wisdom.


Common sense in an uncommon degree is what the world calls wisdom.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up all by itself.

Tom Wilson

It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf.

Walter Lippmann

Seeking Wisdom

In seeking wisdom thou art wise; in imagining that thou hast attained it – thou art a fool.

Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield

The doorstep to the temple of wisdom is a knowledge of our own ignorance.

Benjamin Franklin

Related: 8 Life Lessons from Benjamin Franklin

Wisdom we know is the knowledge of good and evil, not the strength to choose between the two.

John Cheever

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.

William Blake

Our wisdom comes from our experience, and our experience comes from our foolishness.

Sacha Guitry
"Not by age but by capacity is wisdom acquired"
“Not by age but by capacity is wisdom acquired.” – Plautus

To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.

Marilyn vos Savant

Wisdom comes by disillusionment.

George Santayana

Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.

Khalil Gibran

Wisdom begins in wonder.


Wisdom comes alone through suffering.


Without courage, wisdom bears no fruit.

Baltasar Gracian

Wisdom is oftentimes nearer when we stoop than when we soar.

William Wordsworth

A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.

Francis Bacon

Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late.

Felix Frankfurter

We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.

Marcel Proust

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.

Immanuel Kant

Preconceived notions are the locks on the door to wisdom.

Mary Browne
"The most certain sign of wisdom is cheerfulness"
“The most certain sign of wisdom is cheerfulness.” – Michel de Montaigne

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.

Isaac Asimov

Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.

Ludwig van Beethoven

All human wisdom is summed up in two words; wait and hope.

Alexandre Dumas

There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Words of Wisdom Quotes

Words of wisdom are spoken by children at least as often as scientists.

James Newman

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.

Henry David Thoreau

Wisdom is keeping a sense of fallibility of all our views and opinions.

Gerald Brenan

We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.

Don Miguel Ruiz

The higher we are placed, the more humbly we should walk.

Marcus Tullius Cicero

The best wisdom comes from the hardest struggle.

Xavier Rudd

Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality.

Earl Nightingale

A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.

Thomas Paine
Benjamin Franklin quote "The doors of wisdom are never shut"
“The doors of wisdom are never shut.” – Benjamin Franklin

Where fear is present, wisdom cannot be.


Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom.

Walter Benjamin

Irony is the gaiety of reflection and the joy of wisdom.

Anatole France

It all begins and ends in your mind. What you give power to, has power over you, if you allow it.

Leon Brown

The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.

Thomas S. Monson

What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The motto of chivalry is also the motto of wisdom; to serve all, but love only one.

Honore de Balzac

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.


What happens is not as important as how you react to what happens.

Ellen Glasgow

Don’t gain the world and lose your soul; wisdom is better than silver or gold.

Bob Marley

Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.

Elbert Hubbard

Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.

Francis Bacon
Aeschylus quote "Memory is the mother of all wisdom"
“Memory is the mother of all wisdom.” – Aeschylus

The best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching.

Joseph Smith, Jr.

Wisdom sails with wind and time.

John Florio

It is wisdom in prosperity, when all is as thou wouldn’t have it, to fear and suspect the worst.

Desiderius Erasmus

It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.

Henry David Thoreau

All human wisdom works and has worries and grief as reward.

Johann Georg Hamann

Knowledge vs. Wisdom

Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification.

Martin H. Fischer

Discipline is wisdom and vice versa.

M. Scott Peck

Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.

Jimi Hendrix

Knowledge is proud that it knows so much; wisdom is humble that it knows no more.

William Cowper

It is costly wisdom that is bought by experience.

Roger Ascham

A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle.

Khalil Gibran

Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.

Sandra Carey
"Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers."
“Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.” – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.

Charles Spurgeon

Knowledge is proud that it knows so much; wisdom is humble that it knows no more.

William Cowper

Knowledge is marvelous, but wisdom is even better.

Kay Redfield Jamison

Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment.

Lao Tzu

He who devotes sixteen hours a day to hard study may become at sixty as wise as he thought himself at twenty.

Mary Wilson Little

The greater our knowledge increases the more our ignorance unfolds.

John F. Kennedy

Sometimes it’s not enough to know what things mean, sometimes you have to know what things don’t mean.

Bob Dylan

Wisdom is the power to put our time and our knowledge to the proper use.

Thomas J. Watson

Wise Quotes

Some wisdom you must learn from one who’s wise.


Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.


We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.

George Bernard Shaw

The wisdom of the wise is an uncommon degree of common sense.

William Inge

The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.

C.S. Lewis
"Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself"
“Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.” – Cicero

Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Better be wise by the misfortunes of others than by your own.


Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

Carl Jung

Love is the wisdom of the fool and the folly of the wise.

Samuel Johnson

A loving heart is the truest wisdom.

Charles Dickens

The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.

Paulo Coelho

The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.

William James

It is impossible to love and to be wise.

Francis Bacon

Be happy. It’s one way of being wise.

Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

It is the nature of the wise to resist pleasures, but the foolish to be a slave to them.


Wise Sayings

Wise sayings often fall on barren ground, but a kind word is never thrown away.

Arthur Helps

Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it.

George Santayana

Do not say a little in many words but a great deal in few.

"Is there anyone so wise as to learn by the experience of others?"
“Is there anyone so wise as to learn by the experience of others?” – Voltaire

I’m always doing things I can’t do. That’s how I get to do them.

Pablo Picasso

O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!

Sir Walter Scott

Everything is within your power, and your power is within you.

Janice Trachtman

The wisdom of the wise, and the experience of ages, may be preserved by quotation.

Isaac D’Israeli

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.

John Muir

He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.

Marcus Aurelius

When you betray somebody else, you also betray yourself.

Isaac Bashevis Singer

It is the neglect of timely repair that makes rebuilding necessary.

Richard Whately

No one wants advice – only corroboration.

John Steinbeck

Few of the many wise apothegms which have been uttered have prevented a single foolish action.

Thomas Babington Macaulay

A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.

Robert Frost

It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.

Andre Gide

The misfortune of the wise is better than the prosperity of the fool.


The superior man blames himself. The inferior man blames others.

Don Shula
"A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work"
“A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work.” – John Lubbock

We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.

Winston Churchill

We never understand how little we need in this world until we know the loss of it.

James M. Barrie

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

George Bernard Shaw

It is astonishing with how little wisdom mankind can be governed, when that little wisdom is its own.

William Inge

Wise Proverbs

The less you talk, the more you’re listened to.

Pauline Phillips

We gain the strength of the temptation we resist.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.


You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger.


To win without risk is to triumph without glory.

Pierre Corneille

It’s easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.

Leonardo da Vinci

Who is wise in love, love most, say least.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

A closed mouth catches no flies.

Miguel de Cervantes

It is not wisdom but Authority that makes a law.

Thomas Hobbes

The virtue of justice consists in moderation, as regulated by wisdom.

Yeats quote "If suffering brings wisdom, I would wish to be less wise"
“If suffering brings wisdom, I would wish to be less wise.” – William Butler Yeats

It’s not the load that weighs you down, it’s how you carry it.

C.S. Lewis

Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.

Robert Kennedy

Silence is true wisdom’s best reply.


To profit from good advice requires more wisdom than to give it.

Wilson Mizner

Wise Man Quotes

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.


Ignorant men raise questions that wise men answered a thousand years ago.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.

Grantland Rice

A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.

David Hume

The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Wise men make more opportunities than they find.

Francis Bacon

Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.

Harper Lee

Experience is the only prophecy of wise men.

Alphonse de Lamartine

A smart man only believes half of what he hears, a wise man knows which half.

Jeff Cooper

A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.

John C. Maxwell
Seneca wise saying "No man was ever wise by chance"
“No man was ever wise by chance.” – Seneca

It is best for the wise man not to seem wise.


A wise man is superior to any insults which can be put upon him, and the best reply to unseemly behavior is patience and moderation.


Wise kings generally have wise counselors; and he must be a wise man himself who is capable of distinguishing one.


A man begins cutting his wisdom teeth the first time he bites off more than he can chew.

Herb Caen

Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.


We are wiser than we know.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.

William Butler Yeats

All this worldly wisdom was once the unamiable heresy of some wise man.

Henry David Thoreau

Travel makes a wise man better, and a fool worse.

Thomas Fuller

In youth and beauty, wisdom is but rare!


They whom truth and wisdom lead, can gather honey from a weed.

William Cowper

Wise Men Vs. Fools

A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.

William Shakespeare

Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.

Otto Von Bismarck

The wise man does at once what the fool does finally.

Niccolo Machiavelli
"The fool wonders, the wise man asks"
“The fool wonders, the wise man asks.” – Benjamin Disraeli

There is only a finger’s difference between a wise man and a fool.


Man’s wisdom is his best friend; folly his worst enemy.

William Temple

A fool flatters himself, a wise man flatters the fool.

Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:7, ESV

By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them.

Proverbs 14:3, ESV

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

Proverbs 12:15, KJV

A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.

Bruce Lee

The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life.


A wise man may look ridiculous in the company of fools.

Thomas Fuller

Many have been the wise speeches of fools, though not so many as the foolish speeches of wise men.

Thomas Fuller

He dares to be a fool, and that is the first step in the direction of wisdom.

James Huneker

There is a difference between happiness and wisdom: he that thinks himself the happiest man is really so; but he that thinks himself the wisest is generally the greatest fool.

Francis Bacon

Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.


Do you feel wiser after reading these wise words from philosophers, thinkers, and inventors? Hopefully these wisdom quotes help you understand what wisdom is, what its benefits are, and how to gain it.

The first step is to seek it, but not all will find it. Some people confuse wisdom with knowledge, but not all smart people are wise.

On the other hand, maybe you’ll think of a few wise people who aren’t that smart. Shakespeare often uses “fools” in his plays as foils who possess immense wisdom that contrasts their lack of intelligence in other areas.

What counts is what wisdom means to you and what you do with it. So put these wise words to use and see how you do!

Photo of author

Quincy Seale

Quincy is KIM's editor, and has collected and shared inspiring quotes and stories since 2005. Quincy holds an MBA from the University of Dundee and an MSc from the University of Edinburgh, and lives in San Antonio with his wife Natalie, son Alex, and his dog Oban.