Home » Honor Quotes

Honor Quotes

Today I am going to give you two examinations, one in trigonometry and one in honesty. I hope you will pass them both, but if you must fail one, let it be trigonometry, for there are many good [people] in this world today who cannot pass an examination in trigonometry, but there are no good [people] in the world who cannot pass an examination in honesty.
Madison Sarratt (1891-1978), dean, Vanderbilt University.

Perhaps Vanderbilt’s most important role in the interest of our free society is to give the world educated men and women of character, possessing a fundamental integrity that affects both their thoughts and their actions.

Joe B. Wyatt, chancellor, Vanderbilt University

A man should be upright, not be kept upright.
Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor, philosopher. Meditations, bk. 3, sct. 5.

It is a pleasure to stand upon the shore, and to see ships tost upon the sea: a pleasure to stand in the window of a castle, and to see a battle and the adventures thereof below: but no pleasure is comparable to standing upon the vantage ground of truth . . . and to see the errors, and wanderings, and mists, and tempests, in the vale below.

Francis Bacon, English philosopher, essayist, statesman. Essays, Of Truth.

One must live the way one thinks or end up thinking the way one has lived.
Paul Bourget, French novelist. Le D�mon de Midi, Conclusion.

Truth indeed rather alleviates than hurts, and will always bear up against falsehood, as oil does above water.
Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish author. Don Quixote, pt. 2, bk. 5, ch. 10.

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it. Ignorance may deride it. But in the end, there it is.
Winston Churchill

Since an intelligence common to us all makes things known to us and formulates them in our minds, honorable actions are ascribed by us to virtue, and dishonorable actions to vice; and only a madman would conclude that these judgments are matters of opinion, and not fixed by nature.
Cicero, Roman orator, philosopher. De Legibus, bk. 1, ch. 16, sct. 45.

You can’t, in sound morals, condemn a man for taking care of his own integrity. It is his clear duty.
Joseph Conrad, Polish-born English novelist. A Personal Record, A Familiar Preface.

A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others. When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love, and, in order to divert himself, having no love in him, he yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest forms of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal. And it all comes from lying – lying to others and to yourself.
Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky, Russian author.

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, English author. Sherlock Holmes, in The Sign of Four, ch. 6.

If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.
Albert Einstein, American physicist (German born).

Learning what the world is like; learning what mankind is like – these are hindered if students lie to another, or steal, or claim something is the fruit of their labors when it really is someone else’s.
Kenneth G. Elzinga, professor of economics, University of Virginia.

The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. The Conduct of Life, Worship.

The truth isn’t always beauty, but the hunger for it is.
Nadine Gordimer, South African author. A Bolter and the Invincible Summer, in London Magazine.

One lie does not cost you one truth, but the truth.
Friedrich Hebbel

Truth is tough. It will not break, like a bubble, at a touch; nay, you may kick it about all day like a football, and it will be round and full at evening.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Senior, U.S. writer, physician. The Professor at the Breakfast Table, ch. 5.

Time, whose tooth gnaws away everything else, is powerless against truth.
Thomas Huxley (1825-1895)

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.
Thomas Jefferson, U.S. president, scholar, and statesman.

Never suppose that in any possible situation or under any circumstances that it is best for you to do a dishonorable thing however slightly so it may appear to you… Encourage all your virtuous dispositions, and exercise them whenever an opportunity arises, being assured that they will gain strength by exercise … and that exercise will make them habitual…
Thomas Jefferson, U.S. president, scholar, and statesman.

Though you cannot see, when you take one step, what will be the next, yet follow truth, justice, and plain dealing, and never fear their leading you out of [any difficult situation] in the easiest manner possible…
Thomas Jefferson, U.S. president, scholar, and statesman.

Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.
Samuel Johnson, English author, lexicographer. The astronomer, in The History of Rasselas, ch. 41.

For those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each of us, recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state, our success or failure, in whatever office we hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions: First, were we truly men of courage…Second, were we truly men of judgement…Third, were we truly men of integrity…Finally, were we truly men of dedication?
John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Speech to the Massachusetts State Legislature.

I believe it is an established maxim in morals that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false is guilty of falsehood, and the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify or excuse him.
Abraham Lincoln

I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.
Martin Luther (1483-1546), German leader of the Protestant Reformation. Speech, 18 April 1521, at the Diet of Worms, Germany, where he was summoned by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in an attempt to effect a conciliation between Luther and the established Church. The words, Here I stand, I can do no other-added in Luther’s handwriting to the original printed version of the speech-were later inscribed on the monument to Luther at Worms: Hier steh’ ich, ich kann nicht anders.

The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.
Thomas Babington Macaulay, English historian, author, and statesman. Quoted in Reader’s Digest, August 1992.

I have been asked what I mean by my word of honor. I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls – walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground – there is the possibility that in some way or another I may escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of the circle? No. Never! I’d die first!
Karl G. Maeser.

Integrity is not a conditional word. It doesn’t blow in the wind or change with the weather. It is your inner image of yourself, and if you look in there and see a man who won’t cheat, then you know he never will. Integrity is not a search for the rewards of integrity. Maybe all you can ever get for it is the largest kick in the ass the world can provide. It is not supposed to be a productive asset.
John D. MacDonald, spoken by the character Travis McGee.

True education seeks to make men and women not only good mathematicians, proficient linguists, profound scientists, or brilliant literary lights, but also honest men and women with virtue, temperance, and brotherly love.
David O. McKay.

What does it matter how one comes by the truth so long as one pounces upon it and lives by it?
Henry Miller, U.S. author. Tropic of Capricorn.

If everyone were clothed with integrity, if every heart were just, frank, kindly, the other virtues would be well-nigh useless, since their chief purpose is to make us bear with patience the injustice of our fellows.
Moli�re [Jean Baptiste Poquelin]. Le Misanthrope, act V, sc. i.

Let us begin by committing ourselves to the truth-to see it like it is, and tell it like it is-to find the truth, to speak the truth, and to live the truth.
Richard M. Nixon, U.S. Republican politician, president. Speech, 9 Aug. 1968, Miami, accepting the presidential nomination.

It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.
Thomas Paine, Anglo-American political theorist, writer. The Age of Reason, pt. 1, The Author’s Profession of Faith.

Truth must be the foundation stone, the cement to solidify the entire social edifice.
Pope John Paul II [Karol Wojtyla], Polish ecclesiastic, pope. Times.

Truth is. Belief is not required.
Gerry Roston

To tell a falsehood is like the cut of a saber; for though the wound may heal, the scar of it will remain.
Saadi (1184-1291)

Honor has not to be won; it must only not be lost.
Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher. Parerga and Paralipomena, vol. 1, Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life, ch. 4.

The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.
General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Mine honor is my life; both grow in one;
Take honor from me, and my life is done.
William Shakespeare. King Richard the Second, act I, sc. i, l. 182.

The liar’s punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.
George Bernard Shaw, British author.

I ever will profess myself the greatest friend to those whose actions best correspond with their doctrine; which, I am sorry to say, is too seldom the case amongst those nations who pretend most to civilization.
Captain J. G. Stedman, British soldier, author, artist. Narrative of a Five Years’ Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, ch. 24.

Your character is your destiny.
Eugene Sullivan, judge.

Always do right – it will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
Mark Twain, American writer.

Why shouldn’t truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.
Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Every one wishes to have truth on his side, but it is not every one that sincerely wishes to be on the side of truth.
Richard Whately

The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility!
Oscar Wilde, Anglo-Irish playwright, author. Algernon, in The Importance of Being Earnest, act 1.

Honor is not the appendage of any social class. It is a way of life which may be freely chosen by any man or women, regardless of race, color, or creed.
T. Braxton Woody, professor emeritus of French, University of Virginia.