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quotations about experience

Experience quote

Experience is a safe guide.

WILLIAM PENN, Some Fruits of Solitude

Avoid the precepts of those thinkers whose reasoning is not confirmed by experience.

LEONARDO DA VINCI, Thoughts on Art and Life

We ought not to look back, unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dear bought experience. To enveigh against things that are past and irremediable, is unpleasing; but to steer clear of the shelves and rocks we have struck upon, is the part of wisdom, equally as incumbent on political as other men, who have their own little bark, or that of others, to navigate through the intricate paths of life, or the trackless ocean, to the haven of security and rest.

GEORGE WASHINGTON, letter to Major-General Armstrong, Mar. 26, 1781

Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.

OSCAR WILDE, Lady Windermere's Fan

One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning.


The dirty nurse, Experience, in her kind
Hath foul'd me.

ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON, The Idylls of the King

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced--even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it.

JOHN KEATS, letter to George and Georgiana Keats, Mar. 19, 1818

Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every air-borne particle in its tissue.

HENRY JAMES, The Art of Fiction

To rectify past blunders is impossible, but we might profit by the experience of them.

GEORGE WASHINGTON, letter to Fielding Lewis, Jul. 6, 1780

A baby has brains, but it doesn't know much. Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge, and the longer you are on earth the more experience you are sure to get.

L. FRANK BAUM, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

No man's knowledge can go beyond his experience.

JOHN LOCKE, Essay Concerning Human Understanding

Experience keeps a dear school, yet fools will learn in no other.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Poor Richard's Almanac

Experience teaches slowly, and at the cost of mistakes.

JAMES ANTHONY FROUDE, Short Studies on Great Subjects

Experience, if we only learn by it, is cheap at any price.

IVAN PANIN, Thoughts

Experience is a truer guide than the words of others.

LEONARDO DA VINCI, Thoughts on Art and Life

Experience gives us the tests first and the lessons later.

NAOMI JUDD, public radio interview, 1994

A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience.

OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, The Professor at the Breakfast Table

What is all knowledge too but recorded experience?

THOMAS CARLYLE, Critical and Miscellaneous Essays

Experience is the child of Thought, and Thought is the child of Action. We cannot learn men from books.


Whoso is content with pure experience and acts upon it has enough of truth.

JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE, The Maxims and Reflections of Goethe

Experience is the only good 'tis safer to borrow than to buy.

IVAN PANIN, Thoughts

God sends experience to paint men's portraits.

HENRY WARD BEECHER, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit

The field of experience is the whole universe in all directions. Theory remains shut up within the limits of human faculties.

JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE, The Maxims and Reflections of Goethe

Axioms in philosophy are not axioms until they are proved upon our pulses: we read fine things but never feel them to the full until we have gone the same steps as the author.

JOHN KEATS, letter to John Hamilton Reynolds, May 3, 1818

Of all the things that make up a girl's life, I think it would be fair to categorize most of them into two groups: things done and things yet to do. And that is exactly how the years pass--waiting for certain milestones (like blue eye shadow) to come by so you can leap over them with joy and delight in your own maturity. Things like shopping--that is a given, since you've been doing it since you could walk. Slow-dancing with Greg Alcoke--that was a biggie, since it was preceded by such great anticipation. And so things go until you wake up one day and realize that the only thing left for you to experience is walking toward a bright light.

GWEN MACSAI, Lipshtick

From the experience of the past we derive instructive lessons for the future.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, Inaugural Address, Mar. 4, 1825

Experience, the interpreter between creative nature and the human race, teaches the action of nature among mortals: how under the constraint of necessity she cannot act otherwise than as reason, who steers her helm, teaches her to act.

LEONARDO DA VINCI, Thoughts on Art and Life

To describe externals, you become a scientist. To describe experience, you become an artist.

TIMOTHY LEARY, Change Your Brain

The trouble with learning from experience is that you never graduate.

DOUG LARSON, attributed, The Ship of Thought

It's easy to say yes to being happy, but it's harder to agree to grief and loss and transience and to the fact that desire is fathomless and ultimately unfillable. At some point I realized that you don't get a full human life if you try to cut off one end of it, that you need to agree to the entire experience, to the full spectrum of what happens.

JANE HIRSHFIELD, The Atlantic Online, Sep. 18, 1997

All experience is an enrichment rather than an impoverishment.

EUDORA WELTY, One Writer's Beginnings

We learn of great things by little experiences.

BRAM STOKER, "The Jewel of the Seven Stars"

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Read Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay on Experience


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