27 Oscar Wilde Quotes About Love, Life, and Happiness

Navigate the timeless wisdom of this 19th-century literary giant.

Oscar Wilde quotes cover graphic with a picture of Wilde and a scroll

Ever heard of Oscar Wilde? He was an Irish writer known for his razor-sharp wit and knack for hitting life’s big questions—on love, life, and happiness—right on the nose. Sure, his life had its share of ups and downs—he penned hits like The Picture of Dorian Gray but also faced imprisonment for his sexuality. Yet, through it all, his words never lost their sparkle.

In this article, we’ve rounded up some of Wilde’s best quotes. Expect a mix of thought-provoking insights and a good dose of humor—because if there’s one thing Wilde knew, it was how to find a laugh (or a bit of sarcasm), even in the serious stuff. So, without further ado, let’s immerse ourselves in my favorite Oscar Wilde quotes.

Oscar Wilde looking straight on with a cane in one hand and the other hand on his chin

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)


Quotes on Love

“When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one’s self, and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.”

— Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  1. “The very essence of romance is uncertainty.” – Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
  2. “Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and a richness to life that nothing else can bring.” – Oscar Wilde, The Epigrams of Oscar Wilde
  3. “When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one’s self, and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  4. “Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  5. “The one charm about marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Quotes on Life

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

— Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
  1. “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  2. “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” – Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
  3. “A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.” – Oscar Wilde, The Portrait of Mr. W.H.
  4. “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” – Oscar Wilde, The Relation of Dress to Art
  5. “It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.” – Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan
  6. “No good deed goes unpunished.” – Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance
  7. “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.” – Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance
  8. “Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.” – Oscar Wilde, Vera, or The Nihilists
  9. “Pessimist: One who, when he has the choice of two evils, chooses both.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  10. “There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” – Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan
  11. “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” – Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan
  12. “The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.” – Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband

Quotes on Happiness (and Pessimism)

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”

— Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist
  1. “To define is to limit.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  2. “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” – Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan
  3. “I can resist everything except temptation.” – Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan
  4. “I have nothing to declare except my genius.” – Oscar Wilde’s alleged remark upon his arrival in the United States.
  5. “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” – Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist
  6. “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  7. “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” – Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist
  8. “Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.” – Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance
  9. “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” – Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
  10. “Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.” – Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism

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