While some sayings go in and out of style, these passages have stood the test of time. Click on a phrase in the above table to see more information about that quotation, including the source and some context.
Scores reflect both fame and longevity as noted in this explanation of the Stock Scale for Quotation Popularity. Quotations that have been popular for a long time, and that are well-known in both the U.S. and Britain, receive higher scores.
The following passages come from the 1,122-page single-volume Doubleday edition of The Complete Sherlock Holmes. However, Bartlett's and Oxford sometimes include slightly longer or shorter phrases in their various editions.
Sherlock Holmes never said “Elementary, my dear Watson” in any of the stories by Conan Doyle. However, that phrase has been used frequently in the movies and was even mistakenly cited in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations for 1937 and 1948.
As I perceive that your boots, although used, are by no means dirty, I cannot doubt that you are at present busy enough to justify the hansom.” “It is one of those instances where the reasoner can produce an effect which seems remarkable to his neighbor, because the latter has missed the one little point which is the basis of the deduction.
The same may be said, my dear fellow, for the effect of some of these little sketches of yours, which is entirely meretricious, depending as it does upon your retaining in your own hands some factors in the problem which are never imparted to the reader. This quotation appears in nearly identical phrases in at least five Holmes stories.
While technically tied with the next passage, it's ranked second because early editions of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations included multiple appearances of this phrase. “It seemed to me that a careful examination of the room and the lawn might reveal some traces of this mysterious individual.
It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside. “ The pressure of public opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish.
There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or the thud of a drunkard's blow, does not beget sympathy and indignation among the neighbors, and then the whole machinery of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. But look at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law.
It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind.
He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen.... And yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory. At this moment there was a loud ring at the bell, and I could hear Mrs. Hudson, our landlady, raising her voice in a wail of expostulation and dismay.
As he spoke, there came a swift pattering of naked feet upon the stairs, a clatter of high voices, and in rushed a dozen dirty and ragged little street Arabs. One of their number, taller and older than the others, stood forward with an air of lounging superiority which was very funny in such a disreputable little scarecrow.
She looked back at us from the door, and I had a last impression of that beautiful haunted face, the startled eyes, and the drawn mouth. “Now, Watson, the fair sex is your department, ” said Holmes, with a smile, when the dwindling froufrou of skirts had ended in the slam of the front door.
Created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock first appeared in print in 1887 with A Study in Scarlet. Doyle is a British author who wrote across multiple genres.
His reasoning, eye for detail and power of deduction make for suspenseful and captivating plots. The friendship between the famous detective and Dr. Watson is one of the literature’s greatest.
The constant bickering and banter between the two brings delicious and unexpected humor. Sherlock is a brilliant man with a strong penchant for challenging cases.
While he’s usually brutally honest and quite cold, the detective can sometimes become very emotional in a righteous cause. Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.
It’s a wicked world, and when a clever man turns his brain to crime it is the worst of all. I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose.
To the logician all things should be seen exactly as they are, and to underestimate one’s self is as much a departure from truth as to exaggerate one’s own powers. Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another.
My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence. A man always finds it hard to realize that he may have finally lost a woman’s love, however badly he may have treated her.
That is why I have chosen my own particular profession, or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world.” Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four “Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.
Therefore, it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches Watson's summary list of SherlockHolmes's strengths and weaknesses:”1.
In the middle of the night Holmes wakes up and gives Dr. Watson a nudge. “Well,” he says, “astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.
Every day of that voyage I loved her more, and many a time since have I kneeled down in the darkness of the night watch and kissed the deck of that ship because I knew her dear feet had trod it. See how that one little cloud floats like a pink feather from some gigantic flamingo.
“I am somewhat exhausted; I wonder how a battery feels when it pours electricity into a non-conductor?” Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Dying Detective “I imagine John Watson thinks love’s a mystery to me, but the chemistry is incredibly simple and very destructive.