No one can be profoundly original who does not avoid eccentricity.
—Andre Maurois (1885–1967) French Novelist, Biographer
Perhaps our originality manifests itself most strikingly in what we do with that which we did not originate. To discover something wholly new can be a matter of chance, of idle tinkering, or even of the chronic dissatisfaction of the untalented.
—Eric Hoffer (1902–83) American Philosopher, Author
The original insight is most likely to come when elements stored in different compartments of the mind drift into the open, jostle one another, and now and then form new combinations.
—Eric Hoffer (1902–83) American Philosopher, Author
Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.—The most original writers borrowed one from another. The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbor’s kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all.
—Voltaire (1694–1778) French Philosopher, Author
It’s easier to be original and foolish than original and wise.
—Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) German Rationalist Philosopher, Mathematician
All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions.
—Adlai Stevenson (1900–65) American Diplomat, Politician, Orator
It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubbornness of an incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed.
—Albert Einstein (1879–1955) German-born Physicist
People are always talking about originality; but what do they mean? As soon as we are born, the world begins to work upon us, and this goes on to the end. What can we call our own except energy, strength, and will? If I could give an account of all that I owe to great predecessors and contemporaries, there would be but a small balance left in my favor.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) German Poet
Those who are ambitious of originality, and aim at it, are necessarily led by others, since they seek to be different from them.
—Richard Whately (1787–1863) English Philosopher, Theologian
The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterwards.
—Arthur Koestler (1905–83) British Writer, Journalist, Political Refugee
When will poets learn that a grass-blade of their own raising is worth a barrow-load of flowers from their neighbor’s garden?
—James Russell Lowell (1819–91) American Poet, Critic
They who have light in themselves, will not revolve as satellites.
Originality is the art of concealing your source.
—Franklin P. Jones
True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision.
—Edith Wharton (1862–1937) American Novelist, Short-story Writer
About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment.
—Josh Billings (Henry Wheeler Shaw) (1818–85) American Humorist, Author, Lecturer
I invent nothing, I rediscover.
—Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) French Sculptor
The merit of originality is not novelty; it is sincerity. The believing man is the original man; whatsoever he believes, he believes it for himself, not for another.
—Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) Scottish Historian, Essayist
Begin with another’s to end with your own.
—Baltasar Gracian (1601–58) Spanish Scholar, Prose Writer
Originality exists in every individual because each of us differs from the others. We are all primary numbers divisible only by ourselves.
—Jean Guitton (1901–99) French Catholic Philosopher, Theologian
If there is anything the nonconformist hates worse than a conformist, it’s another nonconformist who doesn’t conform to the prevailing standard of nonconformity.
—Burton Hillis (William E. Vaughan) (1915–77) American Columnist, Author
Originality is simply a pair of fresh eyes.
—Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823–1911) American Social Reformer, Clergyman
I found you essay to be good and original. However, the part that was original was not good and the part that was good was not original.
—Samuel Johnson (1709–84) British Essayist
He who thinks for himself, and rarely imitates, is a free man.
—Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724–1803) German Poet
A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time. When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, The one I feed the most. On Other Peoples Expectations: The only man who behaved sensibly was my tailor; he took my measurement anew every time he saw me, while all the rest went on with their old measurements and expected them to fit me.
—George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) Irish Playwright
Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear but forgetting where you heard it.
—Laurence J. Peter (1919–90) Canadian-born American Educator, Author
Nothing else so destroys the power to stand alone as the habit of leaning upon others. If you lean, you will never be strong or original. Stand alone or bury your ambition to be somebody in the world.
—Orison Swett Marden (1850–1924) American New Thought Writer, Physician, Entrepreneur
I see nothing in it new and valuable. What is valuable is not new, and what is new is not valuable.
—Daniel Webster (1782–1852) American Statesman, Lawyer
The original is unfaithful to the translation.
—Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986) Argentine Writer, Essayist, Poet
I am not made like any of those I have seen. I venture to believe that I am not made like any of those who are in existence. If I am not better, at least I am different.
—Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78) Swiss-born French Philosopher
Every man is an original and solitary character.—None can either understand or feel the book of his own life like himself.