Last modified on 11 September 2014, at 01:36


Wishes are hopes or desires for something. Fictionally, wishes can be used as plot devices. In folklore, opportunities for "making a wish" or for wishes to "come true" or "be granted" are themes that are sometimes used.


  • Wishing to dare serves no purpose at all, if it remains a wish.
    • Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Simply Transcribed. Quotations from Fausto Cercignani, 2013, p. 15.
  • If a man could half his wishes he would double his Troubles.
  • If Wishes were Horses, Beggars would ride.
    • James Kelly, Scottish Proverbs (1721).
  • You pursue, I fly; you fly, I pursue; such is my humor. What you wish, Dondymus, I do not wish, what you do not wish, I do.
    • Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), Book V, Epistle 83.
  • Thy wish was father, Harry, to that thought:
    I stay too long by thee, I weary thee.
    • William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part II (c. 1597-99), Act IV, scene 5, line 93. "Thy wish was father to that thought." Idea found in Arrian—Anabasis. I, Chapter VII. Æschylus—Prometh. Vinct. I. 928. Achilles Tatius—De Leucippes, Book VI. 17. Heliodorus, Book VIII. Cæsar—De Bello Gallico, III. 18. Quintilian—Institutes, Book VI, Chapter II, Section V. (Ed. Bonnell). (1861).
  • What most we wish, with ease we fancy near.
  • Wishing, of all employments is the worst.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night IV, line 71.
  • He calls his wish, it comes; he sends it back,
    And says he called another; that arrives,
    Meets the same welcome; yet he still calls on;
    Till one calls him, who varies not his call,
    But holds him fast, in chains of darkness bound,
    Till Nature dies, and judgment sets him free;
    A freedom far less welcome than this chain.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night IV. Lines near end.
  • Man wants but little, nor that little long;
    How soon must he resign his very dust,
    Which frugal nature lent him for an hour!
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night IV, line 118.
  • What folly can be ranker. Like our shadows,
    Our wishes lengthen as our sun declines.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night V, line 661.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical QuotationsEdit

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 882-83.
  • "Man wants but little here below
    Nor wants that little long,"
    'Tis not with me exactly so;
    But 'tis so in the song.
    My wants are many, and, if told,
    Would muster many a score;
    And were each wish a mint of gold,
    I still should long for more.
  • O, that I were where I would be,
    Then would I be where I am not;
    For where I am I would not be,
    And where I would be I can not.
  • Was man in der Jugend wünscht, hat man im Alter die Fülle.
    • What one has wished for in youth, in old age one has in abundance.
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Wahrheit und Dichtung. Motto to Part II.
  • Man wants but little here below,
    Nor wants that little long.
  • And the evil wish is most evil to the wisher.
    • Hesiod, Works and Days, V. 264.
  • Little I ask; my wants are few;
    I only wish a hut of stone
    (A very plain brown stone will do),
    That I may call my own;
    And close at hand is such a one
    In yonder street that fronts the sun.
  • With all thy sober charms possest,
    Whose wishes never learnt to stray.
    • Langhorne, Poems, II, p. 123. (Park's Ed.).
  • Vous l'avez voulu, vous l'avez voulu, George Dandin, vous l'avez voulu.
    • You have wished it so, you have wished it so, George Dandin, you have wished it so.
    • Molière, George Dandin, Act I, scene 9.
  • Wert thou all that I wish thee, great, glorious and free,
    First flower of the earth, and first gem of the sea.
  • If I live to grow old, as I find I go down,
    Let this be my fate in a country town;
    May I have a warm house, with a stone at my gate,
    And a cleanly young girl to rub my bald pate.
    May I govern my passions with an absolute sway,
    Grow wiser and better as my strength wears away,
    Without gout or stone, by a gentle decay.
    • Walter Pope, The Old Man's Wish; first appeared in A Collection of Thirty one Songs. (1685).
  • I've often wished that I had clear,
    For life, six hundred pounds a year,
    A handsome house to lodge a friend,
    A river at my garden's end,
    A terrace walk, and half a rood
    Of land, set out to plant a wood.
  • Quoniam id fieri quod vis non potest
    Id velis quod possis.
    • As you can not do what you wish, you should wish what you can do.
    • Terence, Andria, II. 1. 6.
  • On ne peut désirer ce qu'on ne connaît pas.
    • We cannot wish for that we know not.
    • Voltaire, Zaïre. I. 1.
  • Wishers and woulders be small householders.
    • Vulgaria Stambrigi, published by Wynkyn de Worde (early 16th century).

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