Benjamin Franklin: A Genius of Many Gifts

(scientist, inventor, printer, writer, patriot, and diplomat; sharing his contribution of wisdom to generations from the past, in the present, and into the future)


Maxims on Character and Life

In many cases, these sayings have been modified with a "modern" version for better comprehension.

  • Visits should be short, like a winter's day.
    Before you're too troublesome, hasten away.
  • A house without a woman and warmth is like a body without a soul or spirit.
  • He's a fool who makes his doctor his heir.
  • Great talkers usually accomplish very little.
  • Eat to live, but don't live to eat.
  • After three days, people grow weary of a guest and rainy weather.
  • To lengthen your life, decrease the amount of your meals.
  • He who lies down with dogs will rise up with fleas.
  • He's the best physician who knows the worthlessness of most medicines.
  • There is no greater fool than a drunken man.
  • God works wonders now and then;
    Behold, a lawyer, who is an honest man!
  • Better to slip with the foot than with the tongue.
  • When successful, be moderate in your response.
  • Hope of gain decreases pain.
  • Don't be sick too late, nor well too soon.
  • There have been as many great souls which are unknown to fame, as any of the most famous.
  • He who cannot obey, cannot command.
  • He who is wealthy does not possess it, it possesses him.
  • An educated blockhead is a greater blockhead than one which is ignorant.
  • Beware of the person who compliments everything you say.
  • Look forward to the future or you will find yourself behind.
  • Three people may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.
  • Fish and visitors smell after three days.
  • It's easy to see the present but difficult to foresee the future.
  • Don't throw stones at your neighbors', if your own windows are glass.
  • Creditors have better memories than debtors.
  • Nature heals and the doctor takes the fee.
  • Well done is better than well said.
    (Doing a good job is better than just talking about it.)
  • The worst wheel of the cart makes the most noise.
    (The squeaking wheel gets the grease.)
  • Who has deceived you as often as you have deceived yourself?
  • If you don't want to be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and decayed; either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing about.
  • Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, but half closed afterwards.
  • Don't wish so much to live a long time, as to live well during the time you have.
  • Wink at small faults and remember that you have great ones.
  • Her who falls in love with himself will have no rivals.
  • Use your time well, if you want to have relaxation.
  • If you want to keep a secret from an enemy, don't tell it to a friend.
  • Get up lazy one, and don't waste your life; in the grave there will be plenty of time for sleeping.
  • Well done, is twice done.
  • If you have something to do tomorrow; then, if it is possible, do it today.
  • Make haste slowly.
  • Do you love life? Then do not squander time; for that's the stuff life is made of.
  • Lost time is never found again.
  • Everyone wants to live a long time, but no one wants to be old.
  • Genius without an education is like silver in a mine.
  • Speak little, do much.
  • Who is wise? The one who learns from every one.
    Who is powerful? The person who governs the passions.
    Who is rich? Anyone who is content.
    Who is that? Nobody.
  • One today is worth two tomorrows.
  • Work as if you were going to live 100 years.
    Live as if you were going to die tomorrow.

You may return to the Confusing Words page about an "epigram, epigraph" comparison, when you finish reading this page.