aspect of created or invented works as being new or novel, and thus distinguishable from reproductions, clones, forgeries, or derivative works

Originality is the aspect of created or invented works that is new or novel.

It is better to fail in originality, than to succeed in imitation. ~ Herman Melville


  • True originality is not to be reached by striving after it. A man is original or he is not, as it happens, and as Heaven pleases; but, if he be original, he will be so without knowing it, and his originality will be shown in what we call the whole man, not in an assumed and startling vesture.
    • Alfred Austin, In Veronica's Garden (London: Macmillan and Co., 1895), p. 149.
  • It's awfully hard to know if anything is truly original, anyway. An original thing would be so foreign, we wouldn't be able to recognize it, would we?
    • Siri Hustvedt, The Blazing World (2014), "Maisie Lord (edited transcript)". London: Sceptre, 2014, p. 204
  • It is better to fail in originality, than to succeed in imitation.
  • The fact is that originality (unless in minds of very unusual force) is by no means a matter, as some suppose, of impulse or intuition. In general, to be found, it must be elaborately sought, and although a positive merit of the highest class, demands in its attainment less of invention than negation.
  • Originality consists in thinking for yourself, not in thinking differently from other people.
    • James Fitzjames Stephen, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (1873), Ch. 2. Second edition (London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1874), p. 52.
  • The test of the originality for an idea is not the absence of one single predecessor but the presence of multiple but incompatible ones.
    • Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms (2010) Preludes, p. 5
  • Instead of supposing that a work of art must be something that all can behold—a poem, a painting, a book, a great building—consider making your own life a work of art. You have yourself to begin with, and a time of uncertain duration to work on it. You do not have to be what you are, and even though you may be quite content with who you are, it will not be hard for you to think of something much greater that you might become. It need not be something spectacular or even something that will attract notice from others. What it will be is a kind of excellence that you project for yourself, and then attain—something that you can take a look at, with honest self-appraisal, and be proud of.
    • Richard Taylor, Restoring Pride: The Lost Virtue of Our Age (1995), p. 64
  • Many people ... go through life with hardly an original thought; gravitate from one pleasure or amusement to another; gain a livelihood doing what someone else has assigned; flee boredom as best they can; marry and beget children; and then, without having made the slightest difference of any unique significance, die and decay like any animal.
    • Richard Taylor, Restoring Pride: The Lost Virtue of Our Age (1995), p. 115

See also

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