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Stupidity is a lack of intelligence, understanding, reason, wit, or sense. The modern English word "stupid" has a broad range of application, from being slow of mind (indicating a lack of intelligence, care or reason), dullness of feeling or sensation (torpidity, senseless, insensitivity), or lacking interest or point (vexing, exasperating). It can either infer a congenital lack of capacity for reasoning, or a temporary state of daze or slow-mindedness. This page is for quotes regarding various notions of stupidity.

An Allegory of Folly (early 16th century) by Quentin Matsys

Arranged alphabetically by author or source:
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  • We are growing serious, and, let me tell you, that's the very next step to being dull.
  • The world’s prize stupid oaf is the man who thinks he already has all the answers.
  • Think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are stupider than that.
  • I never heard tell of any clever man that came of entirely stupid people.
  • With various readings stored his empty skull,
    Learn'd without sense, and venerably dull.
  • All humans are stupid, but the smarter ones at least have a handle on their own ignorance.
  • I find we are growing serious, and then we are in great danger of being dull.
  • Aristotle taught that the brain exists merely to cool the blood and is not involved in the process of thinking. This is true only of certain persons.
    • Will Cuppy, The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody (1950)
  • The fool of nature stood with stupid eyes
    And gaping mouth, that testified surprise.
  • Only two things are infinite; the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
  • People who are stupid, unscrupulous, or hypocritical, think that others are just the same. And — this is the real pity — they treat them as if they were.
  • "Wizard's First Rule: people are stupid." Richard and Kahlan frowned even more. "People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People's heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool."
  • I distinguish four types. There are clever, hardworking, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and hardworking; their place is the General Staff. The next ones are stupid and lazy; they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the mental clarity and strength of nerve necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is both stupid and hardworking; he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always only cause damage.
    • Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord, as quoted in Poller, Horst (2010). Bewältigte Vergangenheit. Das 20. Jahrhundert, erlebt, erlitten, gestaltet [Conquered Past. The 20th century, witnessed, endured, shaped]. Munich, Germany: Olzog Verlag. p. 140. ISBN 9783789283727. 
  • Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
  • A boor cannot be sin-fearing, an ignoramus cannot be pious, a bashful one cannot learn, a short-tempered person cannot teach, nor does anyone who does much business grow wise.
  • Why, Sir, Sherry is dull, naturally dull; but it must have taken him a great deal of pains to become what we now see him. Such an excess of stupidity, Sir, is not in Nature.
  • He is not only dull himself, but the cause of dullness in others.
  • Be dauntless, valiant, tragic, whatever you like; but don’t be stupid.
    • Donn Kushner, A Book Dragon, chapter 1
  • It’s too bad that stupidity isn't painful. Ignorance is one thing, but our society thrives increasingly on stupidity. It depends on people going along with whatever they are told. The media promotes a cultivated stupidity as a posture that is not only acceptable but laudable.
  • Life is hard. It's a whole lot harder if you're stupid.
  • We spend our lives fighting to get people very slightly more stupid than ourselves to accept truths that the great men have always known. They have known for thousands of years that to lock a sick person into solitary confinement makes him worse. They have known for thousands of years that a poor man who is frightened of his landlord and of the police is a slave. They have known it. We know it. But do the great enlightened mass of the British people know it? No. It is our task, Ella, yours and mine, to tell them. Because the great men are too great to be bothered. They are already discovering how to colonise Venus and to irrigate the moon. That is what is important for our time. You and I are the boulder-pushers. All our lives, you and I, we’ll put all our energies, all our talents into pushing a great boulder up a mountain. The boulder is the truth that the great men know by instinct, and the mountain is the stupidity of mankind.
  • She gave him a look that suggested his stupidity had grown so powerful, it had become a force of nature like the ocean or the wind.
  • The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.
    • Bertrand Russell, "The Triumph of Stupidity" (1933-05-10) in Mortals and Others: Bertrand Russell's American Essays, 1931-1935 (Routledge, 1998, ISBN 0-415-17866-5, p. 28. This quote reflects Russell's idea on the cause of the emerging Nazi rule in Germany at that time and not on trouble in general.
  • Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education.
    • Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy (1945), Book Three, Part II, Chapter XXI: Currents of Thought in the Nineteenth Century, p. 722.
  • Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens.
    • Against stupidity the very gods
      Themselves contend in vain.
    • Friedrich Schiller, Die Jungfrau von Orleans (The Maid of Orleans, at Project Gutenberg), Act III, scene vi (as translated by Anna Swanwick) (1801)
    • Variants:
      Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.
      Against stupidity the gods themselves labor in vain.
      Against stupidity the gods themselves fight unvictorious
      Against stupidity even the gods contend in vain.
      Against stupidity gods themselves contend in vain.
      With stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.
      With stupidity the gods themselves struggle in vain.
    • Against Stupidity, The Gods Themselves and Contend In Vain? are the titles of the three parts of Isaac Asimov's book The Gods Themselves
  • If a person is stupid, we excuse him by saying that he cannot help it; but if we attempted to excuse in precisely the same way the person who is bad, we should be laughed at.
    • Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, E. Payne, trans., vol. 2, p. 230
  • Sand, salt, and an iron weight are easier to bear than the stupid person.
  • It is better to be poor and walk in integrity than to be stupid and speak lies.
  • A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.
  • Until now, human intelligence, which is no more than a minute aspect of universal intelligence, has been distorted and misused by the ego. I call that “intelligence in the service of madness.” Splitting the atom requires great intelligence. Using that intelligence for building and stockpiling atom bombs is insane or at best extremely unintelligent. Stupidity is relatively harmless, but intelligent stupidity is highly dangerous. This intelligent stupidity, for which one could find countless obvious examples, is threatening our survival as a species.
    • Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, (2005)
  • There is no sin except stupidity.


  • Weapons-Grade Stupidity: Tech-support slang for customer intelligence that is so low it poses a severe hazard to those who come in contact with it.
  • When the world begets too many fools, nature provides a Foolkiller.
    • Greg Salinger in Issue 10 of Foolkiller limited series (1990-91) (Steve Gerber)

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 758.
  • La faute en est aux dieux, qui la firent si bête.
  • The impenetrable stupidity of Prince George (son-in-law of James II.) served his turn. It was his habit, when any news was told him, to exclaim, "Est il possible?"—"Is it possible?"
  • Schad'um die Leut'! Sind sonst wackre Brüder.
    Aber das denkt, wie ein Seifensieder.
    • A pity about the people! they are brave enough comrades, but they have heads like a soapboiler's.
    • Friedrich Schiller, Wallenstein's Lager, XI. 347
  • Peter was dull; he was at first
    Dull,—Oh, so dull—so very dull!
    Whether he talked, wrote, or rehearsed—
    Still with his dulness was he cursed—
    Dull—beyond all conception—dull.
  • Personally, I have a great admiration for stupidity.

See also

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