The Quote Garden

 I dig old books.

 Est. 1998

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“The Pen Is Mightier
Than The Sword” Quotations

The word is mightier than the sword. ~Ahiqar

The dash of a Pen is more grievous than the counterbuff of a Lance. ~George Whetstone, An Heptameron of Civil Discourses, 1582

Many wearing rapiers are afraid of goosequills. ~William Shakespeare, Hamlet, c.1600  [II, 2, Rosencrantz]

It is an old saying, A blow with a word strikes deeper than a blow with a sword:  and many men are as much galled with a calumny, a scurrilous and bitter jest, a libel, a pasquil, satire, apologue, epigram, stage-play or the like, as with any misfortune whatsoever. ~Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621  ["Leviter volant, graviter vulnerant."  Bernardus. –tg]

Scholars are Men of Peace, they bear no Arms, but their Tongues are sharper than Actius’  Razor; their Pens carry farther, and give a louder Report than Thunder: I had rather stand the Shock of a Basilisk, than the Fury of a merciless Pen. ~Thomas Browne, Religio Medici, 1643

Go on then in doing with your pen what in other times was done with the sword; shew that reformation is more practicable by operating on the mind than on the body of man... ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Paine, 1792

The pen is mightier than the sword. ~Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Richelieu, or The Conspiracy, 1839

What unwrit histories wrapped in darkness lay
Till shovelling Schliemann bared them to the day!
Your Richelieu says, and says it well, my lord,
The pen is (sometimes) mightier than the sword;
Great is the goosequill, say we all; Amen!
Sometimes the spade is mightier than the pen;
It shows where Babel's terraced walls were raised,
The slabs that cracked when Nimrod's palace blazed,
Unearths Mycenæ, rediscovers Troy, —
Calmly he listens, that immortal boy.
A new Prometheus tips our wands with fire,
A mightier Orpheus strains the whispering wire,
Whose lightning thrills the lazy winds outrun
And holds the hours as Joshua stayed the sun, —
So swift, in truth, we hardly find a place
For those dim fictions known as time and space...
~Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894), "The School-Boy," 1878

A goose quill is mightier than a lion's paw. ~Proverbs, William Hardcastle Browne, 1900

“The tongue is mightier than the blade.”  Euripides.  ~Robert Graves, Claudius the God and his wife Messalina, 1935

There are statesmen who still believe that the mouth is mightier than the sword. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1906, George Horace Lorimer, editor

PETER.  Is it dull to be a writer?
VOLTAIRE.  To have a pen is to be at war.
PETER.  Of course. You can take people’s eyes out with a quill.
~The Great, “The Beaver’s Nose,” 2020, written by Tony McNamara, Vanessa Alexander, and Gretel Vella, based on the 2008 play by Tony McNamara  [S1, E10, Hulu]

The pun is mightier than the sword. ~“The Trick of Being Funny,” The Editor, 1908

The typewriter is so much more to be reckoned with than the sword. ~Lee Thayer, Persons Unknown, 1941

The pen is mightier than the sword, and the typewriter is mightier than both. ~20,000 Quips & Quotes, Evan Esar, 1968

The pen is mightier than the pencil. ~Student at Brookside School, Long Island, completing the first part of the proverb as given by Candid Camera, 1966, CBS

An editor is a man to whom the wastebasket is mightier than the pen. ~20,000 Quips & Quotes, Evan Esar, 1968

The PENSION is mightier than the sword. ~Puck, 1887

The pen is fightier than the sword. ~E.W.M. Grant, Addison Mizner, and Oliver Herford, The Perfectly Good Cynic's Calendar, 1908

The pen-holder is mightier than the pen. ~James Lendall Basford, Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

The pen is a formidable weapon, but a man can kill himself with it a great deal more easily than he can other people. ~George D. Prentice, Prenticeana, 1859

I would say the broadcaster holds the shotgun in his hand when he's communicating, mainly because he is a part of the audience more than he is a communicator. That is his first strength. Next, he has the force — the power of the wires strung over the whole world. Then, he has the tools of persuasion. His cameras and microphones are mightier than the pen. He can bend the straw, and all he needs to do it is Truth. With truth, force, and persuasion he can save this country. ~Dick Gregory, c. 1963

The mike is mightier than the pen or the sword. ~Dick Gregory, 1960s

As when, to CENSURE PLAYS UNFIT, upon the STAGE they make a HIT,
No wonder, CHILD, we prize the HEN, whose EGG is mightier than the PEN.
~Oliver Herford, "The Hen," 1901

The heart is mightier than the pen. ~Claudia Mills, Write This Down, 2016

Sam:  The power of the pen — it's mightier than the sword.
Jay:  Not if it's a +2 magic sword. Those are pretty powerful.
Sam:  What?
Jay:  It's a D&D thing.
~Ghosts, "The Tree," 2022, written by Josh Malmuth  [S2, E4]  [Dungeons & Dragons —tg]

Where a Westerner might say "The pen is mightier than the sword", the Japanese would say "Bunbu Itchi", or "Pen and sword in accord"... Young men during the Tokugawa period were educated solely in writing the Chinese classics and exercising in swordplay. Pen and sword, in fact, filled the life of the Japanese nobility. ~Victor Harris, 1974, translator's introduction and notes to A Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi (1584–1645)

the pigpen is mightier than the sword  ~E.E. Cummings, "Jottings," in Wake, 1951

But pens and brushes are merely tools you employ in the inking process. Any line the inker draws is a combination of what the tool can produce and what is inside the head of the artist. If you want to draw a fat line, you will find a way to do it no matter what instrument you use. If the pen is mightier than the sword, then the brain is mightier than the pen. ~Klaus Janson, "Pens," The DC Comics Guide to Inking Comics, 2003

Great conqueror Gun and peaceful Pen
Discourse together now and then...
~Charles Mackay, "The Mighty Gun and the Little Pen"

Right on, brother hippies, the penis is mightier than the sword! ~The Progressive, 1971

The pen is mightier than the sword. The penis is mightier than the pen. ~Robert Nye, Falstaff, 1976

Now the PIN is mightier than the pen. Say goodbye to signing your credit card slip on the dotted line. Instead, we will be asked to tap out a personal identification number to authenticate the card, in an effort to beat high street fraud. ~BBC News, 2003  [a little altered —tg]

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published 2016 Jul 18
revised 2020 Feb 22
last saved 2023 Aug 18