personal value, basis for ethical action
(Redirected from Worthiness)

Worth is an ambiguous word which can mean value, but can also refer to merit or excellence.


  • Men are like steel — when they lose their temper, they lose their worth.
    • Anonymous proverb; though often attributed to Chuck Norris, this seems to have appeared at least as early as 1961, in an edition of The Physical Educator.
  • I care not twopence.
    • Beaumont and Fletcher, The Coxcomb, (c. 1608–10; published 1647), Act V, scene 1. Cupid's Revenge, Act IV, scene 3.
  • To be nameless in worthy deeds exceeds an infamous history.
  • 'Tis virtue, wit, and worth, and all
    That men divine and sacred call;
    For what is worth, in anything,
    But so much money as 't will bring?
  • This was the penn'worth of his thought.
  • You can calculate the worth of a man by the number of his enemies, and the importance of a work of art by the harm that is spoken of it.
  • The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity — even under the most difficult circumstances — to add a deeper meaning to his life. It may remain brave, dignified and unselfish. Or in the bitter fight for self-preservation he may forget his human dignity and become no more than an animal. Here lies the chance for a man either to make use of or to forgo the opportunities of attaining the moral values that a difficult situation may afford him. And this decides whether he is worthy of his sufferings or not.
  • When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children; and, being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure. This however was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don't give too much for the whistle; and I saved my money.
    • Benjamin Franklin, letter to Madame Brillon (November 10, 1779), in Jared Sparks, ed., The Works of Benjamin Franklin (1836), vol. 2, p. 181.
  • In all our noble Anglo-Saxon language, there is scarcely a nobler word than worth; yet this term has now almost exclusively a pecuniary meaning. So that if you ask what a man is worth, nobody ever thinks of telling you what he is, but what he has. The answer will never refer to his merits, his virtues, but always to his possessions. He is worth — so much money.
    • Richard Fuller, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 623.
  • We have to prove our worth and justify our existence anew each day.
    • Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State Of Mind, and Other Aphorisms, Section 29 (1955).
  • Dignity and rank and riches are all corruptible and worthless; but moral character has an immortality that no sword-point can destroy.
    • John Gumming, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 623.
  • Morality is not properly the doctrine of how we may make ourselves happy, but how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness.
  • Earth gets its price for what Earth gives us;
    The beggar is taxed for a corner to die in,
    The priest hath his fee who comes and shrives us,
    We bargain for the graves we lie in;
    At the Devil's booth are all things sold,
    Each ounce of dross costs its ounce of gold;
    For a cap and bells our lives we pay,
    Bubbles we buy with a whole soul's tasking:
    'T is heaven alone that is given away,
    'T is only God may be had for the asking;
    No price is set on the lavish summer;
    June may be had by the poorest comer.
    And what is so rare as a day in June?
    Then, if ever, come perfect days;
    Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune,
    And over it softly her warm ear lays:
    Whether we look, or whether we listen,
    We hear life murmur, or see it glisten.
    • James Russell Lowell, "The Vision of Sir Launfal", prelude to part 1, lines 21–38, in The Vision of Sir Launfal and Other Poems (1887), p. 4–5.
  • Anything worth doing is worth 10.
    • Konosuke Matsushita, reported in Business Week (August 21, 1965), p. 80, as the highly successful Japanese businessman's expressed philosophy.
  • Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody's business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy if anything can.
  • Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow;
    The rest is all but leather or prunello.
  • I would that I were low laid in my grave;
    I am not worth this coil that's made for me.
  • I have been worth the whistle. O Goneril.
    You are not worth the dust which the rude wind
    Blows in your face.
  • Hazzen unde nîden
    daz muoz der biderbe lîden.
    der man der werdet al die vrist,
    die wîle und er geniten ist.
    • A worthy man is bound to suffer malice and envy: a man grows in worth so long as he is envied.
    • Gottfried von Strassburg , Tristan (c. 12th century), Line 8395.
  • Each man is worth more than the whole of humanity, nor will it do to sacrifice each to all save in so far as all sacrifice themselves to each.
    • Miguel de Unamuno, Del Sentimiento Trágico de la Vida [The Tragic Sense of Life] (1913), ch. 3.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 919-20.
  • Le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle.
    • The game is not worth the candle.
    • French Proverb quoted by Lord Chesterfield.
  • Nihil vulgare te dignum videri potest.
    • Nothing common can seem worthy of you.
    • Cicero to Cæsar.
  • The two Great Unknowns, the two Illustrious Conjecturabilities! They are the best known unknown persons that have ever drawn breath upon the planet. (The Devil and Shakespeare).
  • You will always be fools! We shall never be gentlemen.
    • Lord Fisher. In the London Times (June 16, 1919). Quoted by him as a "classic" and as "the apposite words spoken by a German naval officer to his English confrère." Lord Fisher comments, "On the whole I think I prefer to be the fool—even as a matter of business".
  • Not worth twopence, (or I don't care twopence).
    • Favorite expression of Marshal Foch. He is nicknamed "General Deux Sous" from this. Wellington used "Not worth a twopenny dam." See Wellington—Dispatches, Volume I. Letter to his brother, the Governor-General. (The dam was a small Indian coin).
  • Too good for great things and too great for good.
  • In native worth and honour clad.
    • Libretto of Haydn's Creation. Adapted from Milton's Paradise Lost, IV. 289. "God-like erect, with native honour-clad".
  • Of whom the world was not worthy.
    • Hebrews, XI. 38.
  • 'Tis fortune gives us birth,
    But Jove alone endues the soul with worth.
    • Homer, The Iliad, Book XX, line 290. Pope's translation.
  • This mournful truth is everywhere confess'd,
    Slow rises worth by poverty depress'd.
  • Il est plus facile de paraître digne des emplois qu'on n'a pas que de ceux que l'on exerce.
  • An ounce of enterprise is worth a pound of privilege.
  • Mon verre n'est pas grand, mais je bois dans mon verre.
  • Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow;
    The rest is all but leather and prunello.
  • O, how thy worth with manners may I sing,
    When thou art all the better part of me?
    What can mine own praise to mine own self bring?
    And what is't but mine own when I praise thee?
  • A pilot's part in calms cannot be spy'd,
    In dangerous times true worth is only tri'd.
    • [William Alexander, 1st Earl of Stirling]], Doomes-day, The Fifth Houre.
  • It is a maxim, that those to whom everybody allows the second place have an undoubted title to the first.
  • All human things
    Of dearest value hang on slender strings.
  • But though that place I never gain,
    Herein lies comfort for my pain:
    I will be worthy of it.
  • It is easy enough to be prudent,
    When nothing tempts you to stray;
    When without or within no voice of sin
    Is luring your soul away;
    But it's only a negative virtue
    Until it is tried by fire,
    And the life that is worth the honor of earth,
    Is the one that resists desire.
  • Siempre acostumbra hacer el vulgo necio,
    De le bueno y lo malo igual aprecio.
    • The foolish and vulgar are always accustomed to value equally the good and the bad.
    • Charles Yriarte, Fables, XXVIII.

See also