Character Quotes

Most popular character quotes

The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out. - Lord Macaulay quote.
The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.
The final test of a gentleman is his respect for those who can be of no possible service to him.
Every man has three characters: that which he exhibits, that which he has, and that which he thinks he has.

human nature

People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within. - Elisabeth Kübler-Ross quote.
People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.
Character does not change. Opinions alter, but character is only developed. - Benjamin Disraeli quote.
Character does not change. Opinions alter, but character is only developed.
I begin to find that too good a character is inconvenient. - Sir Walter Scott quote.
I begin to find that too good a character is inconvenient.
When a man thinks he is reading the character of another, he is often unconsciously betraying his own.

human nature

We must have a weak spot or two in our character before we can love others much. - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. quote.
We must have a weak spot or two in our character before we can love others much.

love

Personality has the power to open many doors, but it's character that keeps them open.
Character is what you have left when you've lost everything you can lose.
Whatever the self describes, describes the self. - Jakob Böhme quote.
Whatever the self describes, describes the self.
People don't seem to realize that their opinions of the world are also a confession of character. - Ralph Waldo Emerson quote.
People don't seem to realize that their opinions of the world are also a confession of character.

opinions

In great matters people show themselves as they wish to be seen; in small matters, as they are.

human nature

We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are.
— Talmud

wisdom

Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? - C. S. Lewis quote.
Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth?
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. - Martin Luther King Jr. quote.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

principles

You are what you are when nobody is looking. - Abigail Van Buren quote.
You are what you are when nobody is looking.
The greatest legacy you can pass on to them [your children and grandchildren] is the legacy of your character and your faith. - Billy Graham quote.
The greatest legacy you can pass on to them [your children and grandchildren] is the legacy of your character and your faith.
Billy Graham Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well

faith

Society affects to estimate men by their talents, but really feels and knows them by their character. - Henry David Thoreau quote.
Society affects to estimate men by their talents, but really feels and knows them by their character.

talent

No man can climb out beyond the limitations of his own character. - John Viscount Morley quote.
No man can climb out beyond the limitations of his own character.
A man of character will make himself worthy of any position he is given. - Mahatma Gandhi quote.
A man of character will make himself worthy of any position he is given.
Character is like a tree and reputation is like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing. - Abraham Lincoln quote.
Character is like a tree and reputation is like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

reputation

No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character. - Ralph Waldo Emerson quote.
No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character.
Character is much easier kept than recovered. - Thomas Paine quote.
Character is much easier kept than recovered.
Many a man's reputation would not know his character if they met on the street. - Elbert Hubbard quote.
Many a man's reputation would not know his character if they met on the street.

reputation

It is to be lamented that great characters are seldom without a blot. - George Washington quote.
It is to be lamented that great characters are seldom without a blot.
Rest assured that literary education is no good without character. - Mahatma Gandhi quote.
Rest assured that literary education is no good without character.

education

The superior man is distressed by the limitations of his ability; he is not distressed by the fact that men do not recognize the ability he has. - Confucius quote.
The superior man is distressed by the limitations of his ability; he is not distressed by the fact that men do not recognize the ability he has.

ability

Wealth stays with us a little moment if at all; only our characters are steadfast, not our gold. - Euripides quote.
Wealth stays with us a little moment if at all; only our characters are steadfast, not our gold.

wealth

The measure of a man is what he does with power.

power

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. - Abraham Lincoln quote.
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.

adversity power

Occasions do not make a man either strong or weak, but they show what he is. - Thomas à Kempis quote.
Occasions do not make a man either strong or weak, but they show what he is.
The universe seems bankrupt as soon as we begin to discuss the characters of individuals. - Henry David Thoreau quote.
The universe seems bankrupt as soon as we begin to discuss the characters of individuals.
Character and ideals are catching. When you associate with men who aspire to the highest and best, you expose yourself to the qualities that make men great.
Carolyn Coats Things Your Mother Always Told You, But You Didn't Want to Hear

success

A man may have no bad habits and have worse. - Mark Twain quote.
A man may have no bad habits and have worse.

wordplay

Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody. - Mark Twain quote.
Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.

human nature

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 morals

Integrity has no need of rules. - Albert Camus quote.
Integrity has no need of rules.

integrity morals

We get so much in the habit of wearing a disguise before others that we eventually appear disguised before ourselves.

be yourself

No man, for any considerable time, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true. - Nathaniel Hawthorne quote.
No man, for any considerable time, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.

be yourself

It is much easier to be a hero than a gentleman. - Luigi Pirandello quote.
It is much easier to be a hero than a gentleman.

manners

Every one of us has in him a continent of undiscovered character. Blessed is he who acts the Columbus to his own soul.
Character is a strange blending of flinty strength and pliable warmth.
No man knows his true character until he has run out of gas, purchased something on the installment plan, and raised an adolescent.

life

Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones. - Phillips Brooks quote.
Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.

life

Everyone journeys through character as well as through time. The person one becomes depends on the person one has been.
Dick Francis A Jockey’s Life: The Biography of Lester Piggott

experience

Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries. - John Albert Michener quote.
Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.
You can measure a man by the opposition it takes to discourage him. - Robert C. Savage quote.
You can measure a man by the opposition it takes to discourage him.

adversity

We know what a person thinks not when he tells us what he thinks, but by his actions. - Isaac Bashevis quote.
We know what a person thinks not when he tells us what he thinks, but by his actions.

action

The severest test of character is not so much the ability to keep a secret as it is, when the secret is finally out, to refrain from disclosing that you knew it all along. - Sydney Harris quote.
The severest test of character is not so much the ability to keep a secret as it is, when the secret is finally out, to refrain from disclosing that you knew it all along.

secrets human nature

Show me the man you honor, and I will know what kind of man you are. - Thomas Carlyle quote.
Show me the man you honor, and I will know what kind of man you are.
The truth about a man is, first of all, what it is that he keeps hidden. - Andre Malraux quote.
The truth about a man is, first of all, what it is that he keeps hidden.
Men show their character in nothing more clearly than by what they think laughable. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quote.
Men show their character in nothing more clearly than by what they think laughable.

humor

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. - Plato quote.
You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.

play

Sports do not build character. They reveal it.

sports

How a man plays the game shows something of his character; how he loses shows all of it.
— Tribune (Camden County, Georgia)

sports

You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him.

human nature

Character is what you know you are, not what others think you are. - Marva Collins quote.
Character is what you know you are, not what others think you are.
You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.
Reputation is character minus what you've been caught doing.
Michael Iapoce A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Boardroom

reputation

The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him.

trust

You can find on the outside only what you possess on the inside.
In great matters men show themselves as they wish to be seen; in small matters, as they are.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.
There is more simplicity in the man who eats caviar on impulse than in the man who eats Grape Nuts on principle. - G. K. Chesterton quote.
There is more simplicity in the man who eats caviar on impulse than in the man who eats Grape Nuts on principle.
One of the best ways to measure people is to watch the way they behave when something free is offered. - Ann Landers quote.
One of the best ways to measure people is to watch the way they behave when something free is offered.
Say not you know a man entirely till you have divided an inheritance with him. - Johann Kaspar Lavater quote.
Say not you know a man entirely till you have divided an inheritance with him.

human nature

Dollars have never been known to produce character, and character will never be produced by money.

money

Characters live to be noticed. People with character notice how they live.
In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful. - C. S. Lewis quote.
In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

empathy virtue morals

Ten thousand bad traits cannot make a single good one any the less good. - Robert Louis Stevenson quote.
Ten thousand bad traits cannot make a single good one any the less good.
The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart. - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn quote.
The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart.
Some people strengthen the society just by being the kind of people they are. - John W. Gardner quote.
Some people strengthen the society just by being the kind of people they are.
Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy. - General H. Norman Schwarzkopf quote.
Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.

leadership

Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit, and you reap a character. Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.

habit action fate

A man is about as big as the things that make him angry. - Winston Churchill quote.
A man is about as big as the things that make him angry.

anger

Would you like you, if you met you?
There is nothing in which people more betray their character than in what they laugh at. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quote.
There is nothing in which people more betray their character than in what they laugh at.

humor laughter

The true test of civilization is not the census, nor the size of the cities, nor the crops – no, but the kind of man the country turns out. - Ralph Waldo Emerson quote.
The true test of civilization is not the census, nor the size of the cities, nor the crops – no, but the kind of man the country turns out.

civilization

Intellectual activity is a danger to the building of character.

intellectuals

Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition, such as lifting weights, we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity. - Steven Covey quote.
Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition, such as lifting weights, we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.

adversity challenges

You can straighten a worm, but the crook is in him and only waiting. - Mark Twain quote.
You can straighten a worm, but the crook is in him and only waiting.
It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific nation, that great characters are formed.  The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. - Abigail Adams quote.
It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific nation, that great characters are formed.  The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties.

difficulties greatness

A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts. - James Allen quote.
A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.

thinking

Character builds slowly, but it can be torn down with incredible swiftness. - Faith Baldwin quote.
Character builds slowly, but it can be torn down with incredible swiftness.
Happiness is not the end of life, character is.
In each human heart are a tiger, a pig, an ass, and a nightingale.  Diversity of character is due to their unequal activity. - Ambrose Bierce quote.
In each human heart are a tiger, a pig, an ass, and a nightingale.  Diversity of character is due to their unequal activity.

diversity

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.

suffering

The more peculiarly his own a man's character is, the better it fits him. - Cicero quote.
The more peculiarly his own a man's character is, the better it fits him.
Strength of character does not consist solely in having powerful feelings, but in maintaining one's balance in spite of them. - Carl von Clausewitz quote.
Strength of character does not consist solely in having powerful feelings, but in maintaining one's balance in spite of them.
Of all the properties which belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character. - Henry Clay quote.
Of all the properties which belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character.
Henry Clay The Clay Code: Or Text-Book of Eloquence
I know sage, wormwood, and hyssop, but I can't smell character unless it stinks.
There is a kind of sweetness of character that stinks.
Character—the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life—is the source from which self-respect springs. - Joan Didion quote.
Character—the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life—is the source from which self-respect springs.

responsibility self-respect

It is only in romances that people undergo a sudden metamorphosis. In real life, even after the most terrible experiences, the main character remains exactly the same.
A man's character is most evident by how he treats those who are not in a position either to retaliate or reciprocate.
It is hardly an argument against a man's general strength of character that he should be mastered by love. - George Eliot quote.
It is hardly an argument against a man's general strength of character that he should be mastered by love.
Character is not cut in marble—it is not something solid and unalterable.  It is something living and changing, and may become diseased as our bodies do. - George Eliot quote.
Character is not cut in marble—it is not something solid and unalterable.  It is something living and changing, and may become diseased as our bodies do.
Character wants room; must not be crowded on by persons, nor be judged from glimpses got in the press of affairs, or on few occasions. It needs perspective, as a great building. - Ralph Waldo Emerson quote.
Character wants room; must not be crowded on by persons, nor be judged from glimpses got in the press of affairs, or on few occasions. It needs perspective, as a great building.
People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.

opinions attitude

A man's fortunes are the fruit of his character. - Ralph Waldo Emerson quote.
A man's fortunes are the fruit of his character.

fortune

Talent develops in quiet places, character in the full current of human life. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quote.
Talent develops in quiet places, character in the full current of human life.

talent

Life is a quarry, out of which we are to mold and chisel and complete character. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quote.
Life is a quarry, out of which we are to mold and chisel and complete character.

life

There is an old-fashioned word for the body of skills that emotional intelligence represents: character. - Daniel Goleman quote.
There is an old-fashioned word for the body of skills that emotional intelligence represents: character.
Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
A family library is a breeding-place for character. - Graham Greene quote.
A family library is a breeding-place for character.

libraries

Character demonstrates itself in trifles.
Persons with any weight of character carry, like planets, their atmospheres along with them in their orbits. - Thomas Hardy quote.
Persons with any weight of character carry, like planets, their atmospheres along with them in their orbits.
To keep your character intact you cannot stoop to filthy acts.  It makes it easier to stoop the next time. - Katherine Hepburn quote.
To keep your character intact you cannot stoop to filthy acts.  It makes it easier to stoop the next time.
Resistance, whether to one's appetites or to the ways of the world, is a chief factor in the shaping of character. - Eric Hoffer quote.
Resistance, whether to one's appetites or to the ways of the world, is a chief factor in the shaping of character.
We must have a weak spot or two in a character before we can love it much. - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. quote.
We must have a weak spot or two in a character before we can love it much.
The proper time to influence the character of a child is about a hundred years before he is born. - William Ralph Inge quote.
The proper time to influence the character of a child is about a hundred years before he is born.

society

Nothing discloses real character like the use of power.  It is easy for the weak to be gentle.  Most people can bear adversity.  But if you wish to know what a man really is, give him power.  This is the supreme test. - Robert Ingersoll quote.
Nothing discloses real character like the use of power.  It is easy for the weak to be gentle.  Most people can bear adversity.  But if you wish to know what a man really is, give him power.  This is the supreme test.
Robert Ingersoll Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln by Distinguished Men of His Time

power

I have often thought that the best way to define a man's character would be to seek out the particular mental or moral attitude in which, when it came upon him, he felt himself most deeply and intensely active and alive. At such moments there is a voice inside which speaks and says: "This is the real me!" - William James quote.
I have often thought that the best way to define a man's character would be to seek out the particular mental or moral attitude in which, when it came upon him, he felt himself most deeply and intensely active and alive. At such moments there is a voice inside which speaks and says: "This is the real me!"
It is well for the world that in most of us, by the age of thirty, the character has set like plaster, and will never soften again. - William James quote.
It is well for the world that in most of us, by the age of thirty, the character has set like plaster, and will never soften again.
The hell to be endured hereafter, of which theology tells, is no worse than the hell we make for ourselves in this world by habitually fashioning our characters in the wrong way. - William James quote.
The hell to be endured hereafter, of which theology tells, is no worse than the hell we make for ourselves in this world by habitually fashioning our characters in the wrong way.
Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.  Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
One stumble is enough to deface the character of an honorable life.

stumble

Character doesn't just count.  It is the password to every code you will ever need to crack.
Reggie Love Power Forward: My Presidential Education
Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character. - James Russell Lowell quote.
Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character.

solitude

Character is what emerges from all the little things you were too busy to do yesterday, but did anyway.
A man's character is revealed by his speech. - Menander of Athens quote.
A man's character is revealed by his speech.

speech

Character is what you are in the dark. - Dwight Moody quote.
Character is what you are in the dark.
Character is the architecture of the being. - Louise Nevelson quote.
Character is the architecture of the being.
I think character never changes; the Acorn becomes an Oak, which is very little like an Acorn to be sure, but it never becomes an Ash.
Perhaps there is no more important component of character than steadfast resolution. - Theodore Roosevelt quote.
Perhaps there is no more important component of character than steadfast resolution.
Men best show their character in trifles, where they are not on their guard.  It is in insignificant matters, and in the simplest habits, that we often see the boundless egotism which pays no regard to the feeling of others, and denies nothing to itself. - Arthur Schopenhauer quote.
Men best show their character in trifles, where they are not on their guard.  It is in insignificant matters, and in the simplest habits, that we often see the boundless egotism which pays no regard to the feeling of others, and denies nothing to itself.
A good character is the best tombstone. - Charles Spurgeon quote.
A good character is the best tombstone.
Charles Spurgeon John Ploughman’s Talk: Or Plain Advice for Plain People
It is only an error in judgment to make a mistake, but it argues an infirmity of character to stick to it. - Adela Rogers St. Johns quote.
It is only an error in judgment to make a mistake, but it argues an infirmity of character to stick to it.

error judgment mistakes

It is by character and not by intellect the world is won.
There is a nobler character than that which is merely incorruptible.  It is the character which acts as an antidote and preventive of corruption. - Henry van Dyke quote.
There is a nobler character than that which is merely incorruptible.  It is the character which acts as an antidote and preventive of corruption.
True character arises from a deeper well than religion. It is the internalization of moral principles of a society, augmented by those tenets personally chosen by the individual, strong enough to endure through trials of solitude and adversity. - E. O. Wilson quote.
True character arises from a deeper well than religion. It is the internalization of moral principles of a society, augmented by those tenets personally chosen by the individual, strong enough to endure through trials of solitude and adversity.
If you will think about what you ought to do for other people, your character will take care of itself.  Character is a by-product, and any man who devotes himself to its cultivation in his own case will become a selfish prig. - Woodrow Wilson quote.
If you will think about what you ought to do for other people, your character will take care of itself.  Character is a by-product, and any man who devotes himself to its cultivation in his own case will become a selfish prig.

selfishness

Contradictions in human character are one of its most consistent notes. - Muriel Spark quote.
Contradictions in human character are one of its most consistent notes.
The man of character finds an especial attractiveness in difficulty, since it is only by coming to grips with difficulty that he can realize his potentialities. - General Charles DeGaulle quote.
The man of character finds an especial attractiveness in difficulty, since it is only by coming to grips with difficulty that he can realize his potentialities.

difficulties

The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good. - Samuel Johnson quote.
The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.
A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person. - Dave Barry quote.
A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.
When you choose your friends, don't be short-changed by choosing personality over character. - W. Somerset Maugham quote.
When you choose your friends, don't be short-changed by choosing personality over character.

friendship

When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost. - Billy Graham quote.
When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.

health wealth

I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man. - George Washington quote.
I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.
Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think. - Ralph Waldo Emerson quote.
Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think.

intelligence

We must have passed through life unobservantly, if we have never perceived that a man is very much himself what he thinks of others. - Father Faber quote.
We must have passed through life unobservantly, if we have never perceived that a man is very much himself what he thinks of others.
You can't truthfully explain your smallest action without fully revealing your character.

deeds

Certainly, it is a world of scarcity. But the scarcity is not confined to iron ore and arable land. The most constricting scarcities are those of character and personality.
William R. Allen "Bunnie Rabbit, Winnie, and the Grand Plan," California Political Review, Winter 1993
You will never know for sure if someone is an asshole until he becomes rich. - Nassim Nicholas Taleb quote.
You will never know for sure if someone is an asshole until he becomes rich.

wealth

Qualities of good character and integrity make an enormous difference in achieving success.

integrity