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18 of the Wittiest Quotes of All Time

Dorothy Parker once said, “There's a hell of a distance between wisecracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.” Parker — a woman known for both her wit and her wisecracks — certainly knew what she was talking about. But still, making a remark clever enough to qualify as “witty” is trickier than it may first appear.

Another one of the most famous quotes about wit comes from the Bard himself: “Brevity is the soul of wit,” Polonius proclaims in Act 2, Scene 2 of Hamlet. While Polonius is arguably correct, Shakespeare uses this line to mock him, as Polonius is in fact quite long-winded and therefore not very witty at all.

Meanwhile, the English writer W. Somerset Maugham once wrote that “the gift of quotation … is a serviceable substitute for wit.” Speaking for ourselves, we certainly agree. With that in mind, here are some of the wittiest quotes of all time, from the likes of Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Muhammad Ali, and more.

Honestly, if I were two-faced, would I be showing you this one?
Abraham Lincoln

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Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.
Mark Twain

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I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.
Winston Churchill

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When caught between two evils, I generally pick the one I've never tried before.
Mae West

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I never forget a face, but in your case, I’ll be glad to make an exception.
Groucho Marx

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All music is folk music. You ain’t never heard no horse sing a song, have you?
Louis Armstrong

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Brevity is the soul of lingerie.
Dorothy Parker

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If you even dream of beating me, you'd better wake up and apologize.
Muhammad Ali

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How many people here have telekinetic powers? Raise my hand.
Emo Philips

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Polite conversation is rarely either.
Fran Lebowitz

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In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, while in practice there is.
Benjamin Brewster

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I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.
Stephen Hawking

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The entire universe has been neatly divided into things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks.
Terry Pratchett

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Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?
Robin Williams

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I can resist everything except temptation.
Oscar Wilde

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If God had wanted us to bend over, he would have put diamonds on the floor.
Joan Rivers

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I must be going bald. It’s taking longer and longer to wash my face.
Harry Hill

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If I had to describe myself in one word, it would be “bad at following directions.”
Matt Roller

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Featured image credit: Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection/ Moviepix via Getty Images

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About the Author
Tony Dunnell
Tony is an English writer of non-fiction and fiction living on the edge of the Amazon jungle.
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