Dorothy Parker Quotes

Dorothy Parker about 1948
New York Times Co. / Getty Images

Dorothy Parker was a writer and critic for such magazines as Vogue, Vanity Fair, and the New Yorker. She also wrote a number of screenplays, poetry, and short fiction. A founder of the Algonquin Round Table, she was known for her pointed verbal wit and satire, often focused on the life of middle class young women, newly "liberated" from Victorian restrictions.

Selected Dorothy Parker Quotations

  1. "I'm never going to be famous. I don't do anything, not one single thing. I used to bite my nails, but I don't even do that anymore."
  2. "I don't care what is written about me so long as it isn't true."
  3. "Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words."
  4. "Oh, I said it, alright. You know how it is. A joke. When people expect you to say things, you say things. Isn't that the way it is?"
  5. "I know that there are things that never have been funny, and never will be. And I know that ridicule may be a shield, but it is not a weapon."
  6. "You can't teach an old dogma new tricks."
  7. "Women and elephants never forget."
  8. "I might repeat to myself slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound—if I can remember any of the damn things."
  9. "I haven't got a visual mind. I hear things."
  10. "Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses."
  11. "Four be the things I'd have been better without: Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt."
  12. "A girl's best friend is her mutter."
  13. "I require only three things of a man. He must be handsome, ruthless, and stupid."
  14. "Take care of luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves."
  15. "Salary is no object; I want only enough to keep body and soul apart."
  16. "Money cannot buy health, but I'd settle for a diamond-studded wheelchair."
  17. "As I was saying to the landlord only this morning: 'You can't have everything'."
  18. "The two most beautiful words in the English language are 'cheque enclosed.'"
  19. "As far as I am concerned, the most beautiful word in the English language is 'cellar-door'."
  20. "If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
  21. "The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."
  22. "Inertia rides and riddles me; / The which is called Philosophy."
  23. "The best way to keep children home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant—and let the air out of the tires."
  24. "Now, look, baby, 'Union' is spelled with 5 letters. It is not a four-letter word."
  25. "It serves me right for keeping all my eggs in one bastard."
  26. "All I need is room enough to lay a hat and a few friends."
  27. "Heterosexuality is not normal, it's just common."
  28. "Scratch a lover, and find a foe."
  29. "Scratch an actor and find an actress."
  30. "Men don't like nobility in woman. Not any men. I suppose it is because the men like to have the copyrights on nobility—if there is going to be anything like that in a relationship."
  31. "That woman speaks eighteen languages, and can't say 'no' in any of them."
  32. "People are more fun than anybody."
  33. "I like to have a martini,
    Two at the very most.
    After three I'm under the table,
    after four I'm under my host."
  34. "Did I enjoy the party? One more drink and I'd have been under the host."
  35. "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy."
  36. "You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think."
  37. "Ducking for apples—change one letter and it's the story of my life."
  38. "Brevity is the soul of lingerie."
  39. "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."
  40. "She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B."
  41. "The only -ism Hollywood believes in is plagiarism."
  42. "If all the young ladies who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, no one would be the least surprised."
  43. "As only New Yorkers know, if you can get through the twilight, you'll live through the night."
  44. "He (Robert Benchley) and I had an office so tiny that an inch smaller and it would have been adultery."
  45. "Misfortune, and recited misfortune especially, may be prolonged to that point where it ceases to excite pity and arouses only irritation."
  46. "Constant use had not worn ragged the fabric of their friendship."
  47. Brendan Gill, in introducing The Portable Dorothy Parker: "The span of her work is narrow, and what it embraces is often slight."
  48. To a man she found annoying: "With the crown of thorns I wear, why should I worry about a little prick like you?"
  49. About being refused admittance to a casino in Monte Carlo in 1926 because she did not have stockings on: "So I went and found my stockings and then came back and lost my shirt."
  50. When being questioned by the FBI, 1952: "Listen, I can't even get my dog to stay down. Do I look like someone who could overthrow the government?"
  51. When asked whether she was Dorothy Parker: "Yes, do you mind?"
  52. "Summer makes me drowsy.
    Autumn makes me sing.
    Winter's pretty lousy,
    But I hate Spring."
  53. "Razors pain you; Rivers are damp;
    Acids stain you; And drugs cause cramp.
    Guns aren't lawful; Nooses give;
    Gas smells awful; You might as well live."
  54. "Oh, both my shoes are shiny new / And pristine is my hat"
  55. "Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
    A medley of extemporanea;
    And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
    And I am Marie of Romania."
  56. "The pure and worthy Mrs. Stowe
    Is one we all are proud to know
    As mother, wife, and authoress—
    Thank God, I am content with less!"
  57. After the death of her husband a conversation with a neighbor:
    Neighbor: “Is there anything I can do?”
    D.P.: “Yes, get me another husband.”
    Neighbor: “Dottie, that's a terrible thing to say!”
    D.P. “All right, get me a ham and cheese on rye.”
  58. "That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment."
  59. "I like to think of my shining tombstone. It gives me, as you might say, something to live for."
  60. To Lillian Hellman, her executor, a few days before dying: "Lilly, promise me that my gravestone will carry only these words: 'If you can read this, you're too close'."

About These Quotes:

Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not be able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.

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Your Citation
Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Dorothy Parker Quotes." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2023, April 5). Dorothy Parker Quotes. Retrieved from Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Dorothy Parker Quotes." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 2, 2023).