The Best Sourced Dorothy Parker Quotes

10 of the best quotes from Dorothy Parker and where they first appeared

We’ve compiled a list of ten of the wittiest and wisest quotations from the Dorothy Parker oeuvre, as well as some of her pithiest and most memorable one-liners. Many quotations have been attributed to Parker, but here we’ve confined ourselves to the things that she definitely did say.

There’s a hell of a distance between wise-cracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wise-cracking is simply calisthenics with words. – Interview in Paris Review, 1956

I’m never going to be famous. My name will never be writ large on the roster of Those Who Do Things. I don’t do anything. Not one single thing. I used to bite my nails, but I don’t even do that any more. – ‘The Little Hours’, 1939

It’s not the tragedies that kill us; it’s the messes. – Interview in Paris Review, 1956

Men seldom make passes / At girls who wear glasses. – ‘News Item’, in New York World, 1925

Dorothy Parker

It is our national joy to mistake for the first-rate, the fecund rate. – Review of Sinclair Lewis, Dodsworth, in New Yorker, 1929

And I’ll stay away from Verlaine too; he was always chasing Rimbauds. – ‘The Little Hours’, 1939

Four be the things I’d been better without: / Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt. – ‘Inventory’, 1937

Sorrow is tranquillity remembered in emotion. – ‘Sentiment’, 1939

If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy. – Esquire, 1959

That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment. – ‘But the One on the Right’, 1929

If you enjoyed these Dorothy Parker one-liners, check out our pick of the 50 most profound, witty, and awesome things writers have ever said.

Image: Dorothy Parker, in the 1910s or early 1920s (author: unknown), Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Pingback: October 20 in Literature: The Return of the King is Published | Interesting Literature

  2. Reblogged this on Wolf and Raven.

  3. I loved the epitaph! That made me laugh out loud!

  4. Thank you for sharing the interesting post!

  5. My personal favourite – “The first thing I do each morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.” – Dorothy Parker

  6. She was the queen of the bon mot and wit among the best of them.

  7. Four be the things…. and Sorrow is…..
    Just so apt, and so true.

  8. Thanks for a great post. I’m a true fan of Dorothy Parker.