likelihood of a favorable event occurring

Quotations about chance.

How often things occur by mere chance, which we dared not even to hope for. ~ Terence


  • Man cannot, though he would, live chance's fool.
    • Matthew Arnold, "Human Life", line 18, in Empedocles on Etna and Other Poems (London: B. Fellowes, 1852), p. 99.
  • People who canalise their lives and prearrange their enjoyments lose much of the enchantment which attends the guiding beneficence of chance.
    • Alfred Austin, Lamia's Winter-Quarters (London: Macmillan and Co., 1898), p. 96.
  • Chance is better than choice; it is more lordly. In its carelessness it is more lordly. Chance is God, choice is man.
  • Nothing in this world happens by chance.
  • I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
  • Le hasard, c'est peut-être le pseudonyme de Dieu quand il ne veut pas signer.
    • Chance is the pseudonym of God when he did not want to sign.
    • Théophile Gautier, La croix de Berny (Paris: Librairie Nouvelle, 1855), p. 28.
  • People fail to appreciate how many chances they have to experience something coincidental.
  • Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.
  • Chance and Time are ever twain.
    • William Ernest Henley, "Ballade of Truisms", line 27, in Ballades and rondeaus, Chants Royal, Sestina, Villanelles, &c., compiled by Gleeson White (London: Walter Scott, 1887), p. 80.
  • The stronghold of the determinist argument is the antipathy to the idea of chance...This notion of alternative possibility, this admission that any one of several things may come to pass is, after all, only a roundabout name for chance.
  • Anyone who won't take a chance now and then isn't worth a damn.
    • Ernest King, as quoted by Thomas B. Buell in Master of Sea Power: A Biography of Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King (1980), p. 105
  • What power was this—chance, will you say? But chance, what else can it mean
    Than the hidden Cause of things by human reason unseen?
    • Lewis Morris, "Evensong", line 25, in Songs of Two Worlds: Third Series (London: Henry S. King, 1875), p. 23
  • In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.
    • Louis Pasteur, in a lecture, University of Lille (7 December 1854); reported in Houston Peterson, A Treasury of the World's Great Speeches (1954), p. 473.
    • Variant translation: Chance favors the prepared mind.
  • Most coincidences are simply chance events that turn out to be far more probable than many people imagine.
  • Randomness, chaos, uncertainty, and chance are all a part of our lives. They reside at the ill-defined boundaries between what we know, what we can know, and what is beyond our knowing. They make life interesting.
  • Le hasard est aveugle, et seul il est le père de la création.
    • Chance is blind, and is the sole author of creation.
    • X. B. Saintine, Picciola (1836), Book I, Ch. III.
  • Times go by turns, and chances change by course,
    From foul to fair, from better hap to worse.
  • Chance is a funny thing and it is easily mistaken for portent.
  • Yet its essence was the certitude that his life was not totally at the mercy of chance. Somehow, it was more important than that. This sense of power inside his head — which he could intensify by pulling a face and wrinkling up the muscles of his forehead — aroused a glow of optimism, an expectation of exciting events. He knew that for him, fate held something special in store.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 92-93.
  • How slight a chance may raise or sink a soul!
  • Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
    Perhaps turn out a sermon.
  • Le hasard c'est peut-être le pseudonyme de Dieu, quand il ne veut pas signer.
    • Chance is perhaps the pseudonym of God when He did not want to sign.
    • Anatole France, Le Jardin d'Epicure (1894), p. 132. Quoted "Le hasard, en definitive, c'est Dieu".
  • I shot an arrow into the air
    It fell to earth I knew not where;
    For so swiftly it flew, the sight
    Could not follow it in its flight.
  • Ours is no sapling, chance-sown by the fountain,
    Blooming at Beltane, in winter to fade.
    • Walter Scott, Hail to the Chief, Lady of the Lake (1810), Canto II. Quoted by Senator Vest in nominating Bland in Chicago.
  • Chance will not do the work—Chance sends the breeze;
    But if the pilot slumber at the helm,
    The very wind that wafts us towards the port
    May dash us on the shelves.—The steersman's part is vigilance,
    Blow it or rough or smooth.
  • Quam sæpe forte temere eveniunt, quæ non audeas optare!
    • How often things occur by mere chance, which we dared not even to hope for.
    • Terence, Phormio, V. 1. 31.
  • A lucky chance, that oft decides the fate
    Of mighty monarchs.
  • Er spricht Unsinn; für den Vernünftigen
    Menschen giebt es gar keinen Zufall.
    • He talks nonsense; to a sensible man there is no such thing as chance.
    • Ludwig Tieck, Fortunat.
  • Chance is a word void of sense; nothing can exist without a cause.


This is what I listen to now. Chance, Grace. Chance is everything. Whether you're born or not. Whether you live or die. Whether you're good or bad. It's all arbitrary.
Two-Face: This is my world now... A dichotomy of order and chaos, just like me.
Grace: Harvey, what's happened to your mind? Your feelings? You used to listen to your feelings.
Two-Face: This is what I listen to now. Chance, Grace. Chance is everything. Whether you're born or not. Whether you live or die. Whether you're good or bad. It's all arbitrary.
Grace: That's nonsense, Harvey. Was is chance that made you District Attorney? Was it chance that made you fall in love with me? Take control of your life, Harvey. You don't need a coin...

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