148 Quotes & Sayings By Oliver Wendell Holmes

Oliver Wendell Holmes is an American physician, poet, and nobel prize winner. He is most famous for his essay On The Path Of Life, the first medical textbook to use the word "psychiatrist" to describe a medical specialty. His other works include poems, plays, short stories and essays. He has been called the "Father of Modern Psychiatry."

A mind stretched by a new ideanever shrinks back to its original proportions. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
To reach a port we must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it. But we must not drift or lie at anchor. Oliver Wendell Holmes
You commit a sin of omission if you do not utilize all the power that is within you. All men have claims on man and to the man with special talents this is a very special claim. It is required that a man take part in the actions and clashes of his time than the peril of being judged not to have lived at all. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Every calling is great when greatly pursued. Oliver Wendell Holmes
I confess that altruistic and cynically selfish talk seem to me about equally unreal. With all humility I think 'whatsoever thy hand findeth to do do it with thy might ' infinitely more important than the vain attempt to love one's neighbour as one's self. If you want to hit a bird on the wing you must have all your will in focus you must not be thinking about yourself and equally you must not be thinking about your neighbour you must be living with your eye on that bird. Every achievement is a bird on the wing. . Oliver Wendell Holmes
The advice of the elders to young men is very apt to be as unreal as a list of the hundred best books. Oliver Wendell Holmes
The riders in a race do not stop short when they reach the goal. There is a little finishing canter before coming to a standstill. There is time to hear the kind voice of friends and to say to one's self: "The work is done." Oliver Wendell Holmes
An older author is constantly rediscovering himself in the more or less fossilized productions of his earlier years. Oliver Wendell Holmes
To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old. Oliver Wendell Holmes
A man over ninety is a great comfort to all his elderly neighbours: he is a picket-guard at the extreme outpost: and the young folks of sixty and seventy feel that the enemy must get by him before he can come near their camp. Oliver Wendell Holmes
A person is always startled when he hears himself seriously called an old man for the first time. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Longevity is having a chronic disease and taking care of it. Oliver Wendell Holmes
The young man knows the rules but the old man knows the exceptions. Oliver Wendell Holmes
If you think that I am going to bother myself again before I die about social improvement or read any of those stinking upward and onwarders - you err - I mean to have some good out of being old. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Thou oh my country hast thy foolish ways Too apt to purr at every stranger's praise. Oliver Wendell Holmes
If I had a formula for bypassing trouble I wouldn't pass it around. Wouldn't be doing anybody a favour. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it. I don't say embrace trouble. That's as bad as treating it as an enemy. But I do say meet it as a friend for you'll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Apology is only egotism wrong side out. Oliver Wendell Holmes
If you want to hit a bird on the wing you must have all your will in focus you must not be thinking about yourself and equally you must not be thinking about your neighbor: you must be living in your eye on that bird. Every achievement is a bird on the wing. Oliver Wendell Holmes
People who honestly mean to be true really contradict themselves much more rarely than those who try to be 'consistent'. Oliver Wendell Holmes
The great thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Rouble creates a capacity to handle it. Oliver Wendell Holmes
People who honestly mean to be true really contradict themselves much more rarely than those who try to be "consistent." Oliver Wendell Holmes
What a blessed thing it is that nature when she invented manufactured and patented her audiors contrived to make critics out of the chips that were left! Oliver Wendell Holmes
Nature when she invented manufactured and patented her authors contrived to make critics out of the chips that were left. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Most persons have died before they expired - died to all earthly longings so that the last breath is only as it were the locking of the door of the already deserted mansion. Oliver Wendell Holmes
After sixty years the stern sentence of the burial service seems to have a meaning that one did not notice in former years. There begins to be something personal about it. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Every year if not every day we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. Oliver Wendell Holmes
The longing for certainty ... is in every human mind. But certainty is generally illusion. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Certitude is not the test of certainty. We have been cock-sure of many things that were not so. Oliver Wendell Holmes
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
A sense of wrongdoing is an enhancement of pleasure. Oliver Wendell Holmes
A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience. Oliver Wendell Holmes
The life of the law has not been logic it has been experience. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Faith as an intellectual state is self-reliance. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Faith implies the disbelief of a lesser fact in favor of a greater. Oliver Wendell Holmes
The great act of faith is when a man decides that he is not God. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Fame usually comes to those who are thinking about something else. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Certainty generally is illusion and repose is not the destiny of man. Oliver Wendell Holmes
The man who thinks his wife his baby his house his horse his dog and himself severely unequalled is almost sure to be a good-humored person. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Grateful for the blessing lent of simple tastes and mind content! Oliver Wendell Holmes
Friendship is the pleasing game of interchanging praise. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Don't flatter yourself that friendship authorizes you to say disagreeable things to your intimates. The nearer you come into relation with a person the more necessary do tact and courtesy become. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Except in cases of necessity which are rare leave your friend to learn unpleasant things from his enemies they are ready enough to tell him. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Without wearing any mask we are conscious of we have a special face for each friend. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Life is an end in itself and the only question as to whether it is worth living is whether you have had enough of it. Oliver Wendell Holmes
One unquestioned text we read All doubt beyond all fear above Nor crackling pile nor cursing creed Can burn or blot it: God is Love. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Life is a romantic business but you have to make the romance. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Heredity is an omnibus in which all our ancestors ride and every now and then one of them puts his head out and embarrasses us. Oliver Wendell Holmes
A man is a kind of inverted thermometer the bulb uppermost and the column of self-valuation is all the time going up and down. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Youth fades love droops the leaves of friendship fall A mother's secret hope outlives them all. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Man's mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions. Oliver Wendell Holmes
A weak mind does not accumulate force enough to hurt itself stupidity often saves a man from going mad. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Systems die instincts remain. Oliver Wendell Holmes
This is a court of law young man not a court of justice. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Law is the witness and external deposit of our moral life. Its history is the history of the moral development of the race. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Lawyers spend a great deal of time shovelling smoke. Oliver Wendell Holmes
The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience. Oliver Wendell Holmes
The reward of a general is not a bigger tent - but command. Oliver Wendell Holmes
The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic... The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Life is action and passion therefore it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of the time at peril of being judged not to have lived. Oliver Wendell Holmes
I am on the side of the unregenerate who affirm the worth of life as an end in itself as against the saints who deny it. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Life is painting a picture not doing a sum. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Love is the master key which opens the gates of happiness. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Logic is logic. That's all I say. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Husband and wife come to look alike at last. Oliver Wendell Holmes
A general flavour of mild decay but nothing local as one may say. Oliver Wendell Holmes
So long as the body is affected through the mind no audacious device even of the most manifestly dishonest character can fail of producing occasional good to those who yield to it an implicit or even a partial faith. Oliver Wendell Holmes
I firmly believe that if the whole materia medica as now used could be sunk to the bottom of the sea it would be all the better for mankind and all the worse for the fishes. Oliver Wendell Holmes
A man must get a thing before he can forget it. Oliver Wendell Holmes
I should like to see any kind of a man distinguishable from a gorilla that some good and even pretty woman could not shape a husband out of. Oliver Wendell Holmes
The AmenT of Nature is always a flower. Oliver Wendell Holmes
The great thing in this world is not so much where we are but in what direction we are moving. Oliver Wendell Holmes
A day's impact is better than a month of dead pull. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Pick my left pocket of its silver dime but spare the right-it holds my golden time! Oliver Wendell Holmes
Realize life as an end in itself. Functioning is all there is. Oliver Wendell Holmes
A man may fulfill the object of his existence by asking a question he cannot answer and attempting a task he cannot achieve. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Why can't somebody give us a list of things that everybody thinks and nobody says and another list of things that everybody says and nobody thinks. Oliver Wendell Holmes
For me at least there came moments when faith wavered. But there is the great lesson and the great triumph: keep the fire burning until by and by out of the mass of sordid details there comes some result. Oliver Wendell Holmes
When I feel inclined to read poetry I take down my dictionary. The poetry of words is quite as beautiful as that of sentences. The author may arrange the gems effectively but their shape and lustre have been given by the attrition of ages. Oliver Wendell Holmes
When you write in prose you say what you mean. When you write in rhyme you say what you must. Oliver Wendell Holmes
The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye the more light you pour upon it the more it will contract. Oliver Wendell Holmes
I hate being placed on committees. They are always having meetings at which half are absent and the rest late. Oliver Wendell Holmes
We expect more of ourselves than we have any right to. Oliver Wendell Holmes
A minister is coming down every generation nearer and nearer to the common level of the useful citizen - no oracle at all but a man of more than average moral instincts who if he knows anything knows how little he knows. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Men are idolaters and want something to look at and kiss and hug or throw themselves down before they always did they always will and if you don't make it of wood you must make it of words. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Apology - a desperate habit and one that is rarely cured. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Imitation is a necessity of human nature. Oliver Wendell Holmes
A sick man that gets talking about himself a woman that gets talking about her baby and an author that begins reading out of his own book never know when to stop. Oliver Wendell Holmes
The secret of my success is that at an early age I discovered I was not God. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Speak clearly if you speak at all Carve every word before you let it fall. Oliver Wendell Holmes
The world's great men have not commonly been great scholars nor its great scholars great men. Oliver Wendell Holmes
The reward of the general is not a bigger tent but command. Oliver Wendell Holmes
The world is always ready to receive talent with open arms. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Talking is like playing on the harp there is as much in laying the hand on the strings to stop their vibrations as in twanging them to bring out their music. Oliver Wendell Holmes
The axis of the earth sticks out visibly through the centre of each and every town or city. Oliver Wendell Holmes
When I want to understand what is happening today or try to decide what will happen tomorrow I look back. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Every real thought on every real subject knocks the wind out of somebody or other. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Life is a great bundle of little things. Oliver Wendell Holmes
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 embroidery. Oliver Wendell Holmes