Mark Twain Quotes on Life That Tell It Like It Is

, Staff Writer
Updated June 10, 2021
quote mark twain
    quote mark twain
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Mark Twain had a lot to say about life itself, as well as many other related topics. He was quite prolific in his day, so his books and other writings are a treasure trove of interesting sayings. If you're looking for some quotes about life that eloquently tell it like it is, this famous author's words might be exactly what you seek. Explore a selection of some of the best Mark Twain quotes about life.

Funny Mark Twain Quotes About Life

There are elements of humor in most of Mark Twain's writings, so it's not surprising that that many funny quotes can be attributed to the author.

  • "Life: we laugh and laugh, then cry and cry, then feebler laugh, then die."
  • "There is no sadder thing than a young pessimist than perhaps an old optimist."
  • "What is human life? The first third a good time; the rest remembering about it."
  • "When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries of life disappear and life stands explained."
  • "There has never been an intelligent person of the age of sixty who would consent to live his life over again. His or anyone else's."
  • "An honest man in politics shines more than he would elsewhere."
  • "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."
  • "Nothing so needs reforming more than other people's habits."
  • "Don't put too much faith in the passing stranger."
  • "Poor old Methuselah, how did he manage to stand it so long?"
  • "In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice."

Mark Twain Quotes About the Human Experience

Mark Twain had some truly interesting perspectives on various aspects of life. Enjoy reviewing some Mark Twain quotations on the overall human experience.

  • "Human life is maliciously planned with one principal object in view: to make you do all the different kinds of things you particularly don't want to do."
  • "Only he who has seen better days and lives to see better days again knows their full value."
  • "The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out, the conservative adopts them."
  • "A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval."
  • "Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to."
  • "Architects cannot teach nature anything."
  • "Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."
  • "We recognize that there are no trivial occurrences in life if we get the right focus on them."
  • "There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy."
  • "It is good to obey all the rules when you're young, so you'll have the strength to break them when you're old."

Mark Twain Quotes on Literature and Learning

Mark Twain is known for many eloquent sayings, including ones that share his interesting ideas about intellectual pursuits such as education and literature.

  • "A full belly is worth little where the mind is starved."
  • "Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other."
  • "Books are the liberated spirits of men."
  • "As to the Adjective: When in doubt, strike it out."
  • "To spell correctly is a talent, not an acquirement."
  • "It is noble to teach oneself, but still nobler to teach others — and less trouble."
  • "All schools, all colleges, have two great functions: to confer, and to conceal, valuable knowledge."
  • "Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned."
  • "Everything has its limit — iron ore cannot be educated into gold."
  • "What a fine thing it is to have an intellect, and room enough in the seat of your breeches to hold it."
  • "When the heart has something to say the product is literature."

Mark Twain on Love and Relationships

Looking for an interesting perspective on love? Check out these Mark Twain quotes on love and relationships.

  • "Be good and you will be lonesome."
  • "Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths."
  • "No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century."
  • "Love is a madness; if thwarted it develops fast."
  • "The frankest and freest product of the human mind and heart is a love letter."
  • "When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain."
  • "What a world of trouble those who never marry escape!"
  • "There isn't time — so brief is life — for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. there is only time for loving."
  • "The deeper the love the surer the tragedy."
  • "You can't reason with your heart; it has its own laws, and thumps about things which the intellect scorns."

Mark Twain Quotes About Truth

Mark Twain had some interesting perspectives on truth. Some of his most interesting quotes on this topic come from his 1897 tome called Following the Equator, as well as other works.

  • "I never could tell a lie that anybody would doubt, nor a truth that anybody would believe."
  • "It is my belief that nearly any invented quotation, played with confidence, stands a good chance to deceive."
  • "There are people who think that honesty is always the best policy. This is a superstition; there are times when the appearance of it is worth six of it."
  • "We marvel to see what daring chances truth may freely take in constructing a tale, as compared with the poor little conservative risks permitted to fiction."
  • "Often, the surest way to convey misinformation is to tell the strict truth."
  • "Swervings like these from the strict line of fact often beguile a truthful man on and on until he eventually becomes a liar."
  • "The facts which such people give to travelers are usually erroneous, and often intemperately so."
  • "But language is a treacherous thing, a most unsure vehicle, and it can seldom arrange descriptive words in such a way that they will not inflate the facts."
  • "It was not true, but it was only a little thing to say, and saved his feelings and cost me nothing."
  • "Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it."
  • "People ought to start dead, and they would be honest so much earlier."

Mark Twain Quotes About Death

With so many quotes about life, it shouldn't be surprising to learn that Twain also shared insights about death.

  • "I think we never become really and genuinely our entire and honest selves until we are dead."
  • "Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry."
  • "Each person is born to one possession which outvalues all his others- his last breath."
  • "No real estate is permanently valuable but the grave."
  • "Both marriage and death ought to be welcome: the one promises happiness, doubtless the other assures it."
  • "Pity is for the living, envy is for the dead."
  • "Death was sweet, death was gentle, death was kind; death healed the bruised spirit and the broken heart, and gave them rest and forgetfulness."
  • "Death was man's best friend; when man could endure life no longer, death came and set him free."
  • "Manifestly, dying is nothing to a really great and brave man."
  • "A distinguished man should be as particular about his last words as he is about his last breath."

Learn More About Mark Twain

Some of the best Mark Twain quotes are humorous, though some are serious. Some are reflections on Twain's own life, while others are reflections of the world that he saw developing all around him. Whichever you find the most interesting, you're sure to understand the author better if you take the time to review his biography after perusing his quotes. Then, learn even more about this fascinating literary great by exploring some particularly interesting facts about Mark Twain. You may also enjoy exploring some original funny quotes about living life.