An aphorism is nothing else but the slightest
form of writing raised to the highest level of expressive communication. Carl William Brown





Debate is masculine, conversation is feminine.


Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888, American educator, social reformer)


It is all right to hold a conversation, but you should let go of it now and then.


Richard Armour (1906-1989, American poet)


A good conversationalist is not one who remembers what was said, but says what someone wants to remember.


John Mason Brown (1800-1859, American militant abolitionist)


The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it.


Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873, British novelist, poet)


There is nothing so dangerous for anyone who has something to hide as conversation! A human being, Hastings, cannot resist the opportunity to reveal himself and express his personality which conversation gives him. Every time he will give himself away.


Agatha Christie (1891-1976, British mystery writer)


Never hold anyone by the button or the hand in order to be heard out; for if people are unwilling to hear you, you had better hold your tongue than them.


Philip Dormer Stanhope Chesterfield (1694-1773, British statesman, author)


A sudden silence in the middle of a conversation suddenly brings us back to essentials: it reveals how dearly we must pay for the invention of speech.


E. M. Cioran (1911-1995, Rumanian-born French philosopher)


Talk ought always to run obliquely, not nose to nose with no chance of mental escape.


Frank Moore Colby (1865-1925, American editor, essayist)


Repartee is perfect when it effects its purpose with a double edge. It is the highest order of wit, as it indicates the coolest yet quickest exercise of genius, at a moment when the passions are roused.


Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832, British sportsman writer)


Reply to wit with gravity, and to gravity with wit.


Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832, British sportsman writer)


I find we are growing serious, and then we are in great danger of being dull.


William Congreve (1670-1729, British dramatist)


I would rather take hellebore than spend a conversation with a good, little man.


Edward Dahlberg (1900-1977, American author, critic)


Mediocre people have an answer for everything and are astonished at nothing. They always want to have the air of knowing better than you what you are going to tell them; when, in their turn, they begin to speak, they repeat to you with the greatest confidence, as if dealing with their own property, the things that they have heard you say yourself at some other place. A capable and superior look is the natural accompaniment of this type of character.


Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863, French artist)


No collection of people who are all waiting for the same thing are capable of holding a natural conversation. Even if the thing they are waiting for is only a taxi.


Ben Elton (1959-, British author, performer)


Conversation is an art in which a man has all mankind for competitors.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


Conversation is an art in which a man has all mankind for competitors.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


In conversation the game is, to say something new with old words. And you shall observe a man of the people picking his way along, step by step, using every time an old boulder, yet never setting his foot on an old place.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


Two may talk and one may hear, but three cannot take part in a conversation of the most sincere and searching sort.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


You guys are both saying the same thing. The only reason you're arguing is because you're using different words. Conversation in a dorm room quoted in Language in Thought and Action,


S. I. Hayakawa (1902-1992, Canadian born American senator, educator)


In conversation, humor is worth more than wit and easiness more than knowledge.


George Herbert (1593-1632, British metaphysical poet)


Saying what we think gives a wider range of conversation than saying what we know.


Cullen Hightower


And when you stick on conversation's burrs, don't strew your pathway with those dreadful ers.


Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894, American author, wit, poet)


Nothing lowers the level on conversation more than raising the voice.


Stanley Horowitz


If you ever have to support a flagging conversation, introduce the topic of eating.


Leigh Hunt (1784-1859, British poet, essayist)


I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read.


Samuel Johnson (1709-1784, British author)


The happiest conversation is that of which nothing is distinctly remembered but a general effect of pleasing impression.


Samuel Johnson (1709-1784, British author)


No one is qualified to converse in public except those contented to do without such conversation.


Thomas a Kempis (1379-1471, German monk, mystic, religious writer)


The great gift of conversation is less about displaying it ourselves than in drawing it out of others. Anyone who leaves your company pleased with himself and his own cleverness is very well pleased with you.


Jean De La Bruyere (1645-1696, French classical writer)


Conceit causes more conversation than wit.


Francois De La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680, French classical writer)


We often forgive those who bore us, but we cannot forgive those whom we bore.


Francois De La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680, French classical writer)


The opposite of talking isn't listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.


Fran Lebowitz (1951-, American journalist)


No one will ever shine in conversation, who thinks of saying fine things: to please, one must say many things indifferent, and many very bad.


Francis Lockier (1668-1740, British prelate, man of letters)


Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back


Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893, French writer)


Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back


Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893, French writer)


Conversation would be vastly improved by the constant use of four simple words:  I do not know.


Andre Maurois (1885-1967, French writer)


With thee conversing I forget all time.


John Milton (1608-1674, British poet)


In my opinion, the most fruitful and natural play of the mind is in conversation. I find it sweeter than any other action in life; and if I were forced to choose, I think I would rather lose my sight than my hearing and voice. The study of books is a drowsy and feeble exercise which does not warm you up.


Michel Eyquem De Montaigne (1533-1592, French philosopher, essayist)


There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees.


Michel Eyquem De Montaigne (1533-1592, French philosopher, essayist)


Beware of the conversationalist who adds "in other words." He is merely starting afresh.


Christopher Morley (1890-1957, American novelist, journalist, poet)


The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.


Dorothy Nevill


Ideal conversation must be an exchange of thought, and not, as many of those who worry most about their shortcomings believe, an eloquent exhibition of wit or oratory.


Emily Post (1873-1960, American hostess)


He who speaks too much is tiresome; he who speaks too little is boring.


Mexican Proverb (Sayings of Mexican origin)


It is not what we learn in conversation that enriches us. It is the elation that comes of swift contact with tingling currents of thought.


Agnes Repplier (1858-1950, American author, social critic)


Say nothing good of yourself, you will be distrusted; say nothing bad of yourself, you will be taken at your word.


Joseph Roux (1834-1905, French priest, writer)


She has lost the art of conversation, but not, unfortunately, the power of speech.


George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950, Irish-born British dramatist)


The primary use of conversation is to satisfy the impulse to talk.


George Santayana (1863-1952, American philosopher, poet)


Conversation has a kind of charm about it, an insinuating and insidious something that elicits secrets just like love or liquor.


Marcus Annaeus Seneca (BC 3-65 AD, Roman philosopher, dramatist, statesman)


Conversation should be pleasant without scurrility, witty without affection, free without indecency, learned without conceitedness, novel without falsehood.


William Shakespeare (1564-1616, British poet, playwright, actor)


Never talk for half a minute without pausing and giving others a chance to join in.


Sydney Smith (1771-1845, British writer, clergyman)


The techniques of opening conversation are universal. I knew long ago and rediscovered that the best way to attract attention, help, and conversation is to be lost. A man who seeing his mother starving to death on a path kicks her in the stomach to clear the way, will cheerfully devote several hours of his time giving wrong directions to a total stranger who claims to be lost.


John Steinbeck (1902-1968, American author)


One of the very best rules of conversation is to never, say anything which any of the company wish had been left unsaid.


Jonathan Swift (1667-1745, Anglo-Irish satirist)


The first ingredient in conversation is truth, the next good sense, the third good humor, and the fourth wit.


Sir William Temple (1628-1699, British diplomat, essayist)


A good memory and a tongue tied in the middle is a combination which gives immortality to conversation.


Mark Twain (1835-1910, American humorist, writer)


Conversation is an exercise of the mind; gossip is merely an exercise of the tongue.


Author Unknown


There is nothing that exasperates people more than a display of superior ability or brilliance in conversation. They seem pleased at the time, but their envy makes them curse the conversationalist in their heart.


Author Unknown


The real risk is doing nothing.


Denis Waitley (1933-, American author, speaker, trainer, peak performance expert)

Author's website:


There is no such thing as conversation. It is an illusion. There are intersecting monologues, that is all.


Rebecca West (1892-1983, British author)


If other people are going to talk, conversation becomes impossible.


James Mcneill Whistler (1834-1903, American artist)


Conversation should touch everything, but should concentrate itself on nothing.


Oscar Wilde (1856-1900, British author, wit)


Talk to every woman as if you loved her, and to every man as if he bored you, and at the end of your first season you will have the reputation of possessing the most perfect social tact.


Oscar Wilde (1856-1900, British author, wit)


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