Judith Martin quotes

  • Nowadays, we never allow ourselves the convenience of being temporarily unavailable, even to strangers. With telephone and beeper, people subject themselves to being instantly accessible to everyone at all times, and it is the person who refuses to be on call, rather than the importunate caller, who is considered rude.
    -- Judith Martin

    #People #Rude #Telephones

  • If it's against state law, it's generally considered a breach of Etiquette.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Law #States #Etiquette

  • Adorable children are considered to be the general property of the human race. Rude children belong to their mothers.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Mother #Children #Humorous

  • It's far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Quality #Helping #Impressive

  • We are born charming fresh and spontaneous and must be civilized before we are fit to participate in society.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Positive #Society #Fit

  • Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don't catch steak hanging around when you're poor and sick, do you?
    -- Judith Martin

    #Summer #Cheer #Food

  • Perhaps the greatest rudenesses of our time come not from the callousness of strangers, but from the solicitousness of intimates who believe that their frank criticisms are always welcome, and who feel free to "be themselves" with those they love, which turns out to mean being their worst selves, while saving their best behavior for strangers.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Friendship #Believe #Mean

  • When virtues are pointed out first, flaws seem less insurmountable.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Criticism #Firsts #Flaws

  • It is wrong to wear diamonds before luncheon, except on one’s marriage rings. Before, after, and during breakfast, luncheon and dinner, it is vulgar to wear a mixture of colored precious stones. It is always a comfort to know that so many things one can’t afford to do anyway are vulgar.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Comfort #Breakfast #Mixtures

  • Ideological differences are no excuse for rudeness.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Differences #No Excuses #Rudeness

  • There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainment can be reduced proportionately. When the affection IS the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. Under no circumstances can the food be omitted.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Love #Inspirational #Witty

  • We are all born rude. No infant has ever appeared yet with the grace to understand how inconsiderate it is to disturb others in the middle of the night.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Night #Rude #Grace

  • Chaperons don't enforce morality; they force immorality to be discreet.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Inspirational #Teenager #Morality

  • If you can't be kind, at least be vague.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Inspirational #Kindness #Advice

  • We already know that anonymous letters are despicable. In etiquette, as well as in law, hiring a hit man to do the job does not relieve you of responsibility.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Jobs #Responsibility #Men

  • A lot of men got upset at the feminist movement because they had all the toys and we wanted some.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Men #Feminist #Upset

  • The idea that people can behave naturally, without resorting to an artificial code tacitly agreed upon by their society, is as silly as the idea that they can communicate by a spoken language without commonly accepted semantic and grammatical rules.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Silly #Ideas #People

  • The etiquette of intimacy is very different from the etiquette of formality, but manners are not just something to show off to the outside world. If you offend the head waiter, you can always go to another restaurant. If you offend the person you live with, it's very cumbersome to switch to a different family.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Family #Different #World

  • Etiquette enables you to resolve conflict without just trading insults. Without etiquette, the irritations in modern life are so abrasive that you see people turning to the law to regulate everyday behavior. This frightens me; it's a major inroad on our basic freedoms.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Irritation #Law #People

  • When you're in love, you put up with things that, when you're out of love you cite.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Positive #Love You #Citing

  • Yes, etiquette is hypocritical. Yes, it does inhibit children - if you're lucky. But the idea that it's elitist and irrelevant is like saying language is elitist and irrelevant.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Children #Ideas #Doe

  • We have the reverse of the Puritan work ethic in America now. No one ever becomes a star by plugging along year after year. What is needed is flair, talent, 'an eye,' contacts, charisma, and, most of all, naturalness.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Stars #Eye #Years

  • Honesty has come to mean the privilege of insulting you to your face without expecting redress.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Honesty #Mean #Insulting

  • For email, the old postcard rule applies. Nobody else is supposed to read your postcards, but you'd be a fool if you wrote anything private on one.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Email #Fool #Postcards

  • A wedding invitation is sent by people who have been saying, "Do we have to ask them?" to people whose first response is, "How much do you think we have to spend on them?
    -- Judith Martin

    #Thinking #People #Love And Marriage

  • the obligation to express gratitude deepens with procrastination. The longer you wait, the more effusive must be the thanks.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Gratitude #Procrastination #Waiting

  • Greece is a good place for rebirths.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Rebirth #Greece

  • To sacrifice the principles of manners, which require compassion and respect, and bat people over the head with their ignorance of etiquette rules they cannot be expected to know is both bad manners and poor etiquette. That social climbers and twits have misused etiquette throughout history should not be used as an argument for doing away with it.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Ignorance #Sacrifice #Compassion

  • Society cannot exist without etiquette ... It never has, and until our own century, everybody knew that.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Century #Etiquette

  • Smart people duck when they hear the dread announcement 'I'm going to be perfectly honest with you.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Honesty #Smart #Ducks

  • You think death is any better an excuse for desertion than any other?
    -- Judith Martin

    #Thinking #Excuse

  • The one prediction that never comes true is, 'You'll thank me for telling you this.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Predictions #Conversation #Busybodies

  • Protocol is etiquette with a government expense account.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Government #Definitions #Etiquette

  • People say when you're in love, you don't need etiquette. Well, you need it then more than anything. Or they say, 'At home I can just be myself.' What they mean is they can be their worst selves. ... They always mean they will save all their anxiety about how to behave for somebody like the head waiter of a restaurant, someone they'll never see again.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Love You #Home #Mean

  • it's no longer socially acceptable to make bigoted statements and racist remarks. Some people are having an awful time with that: 'I didn't know anybody would be offended!' Well, where have you been? I remember when people got away with it and they don't anymore. That's fabulous.
    -- Judith Martin

    #People #Would Be #Racist

  • Nowadays, you form your beliefs to fit your behavior, not the other way around.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Way #Belief #Fit

  • The etiquette business has its emergencies, heaven knows, but it is in the nature of etiquette emergencies that once one realizes what one has done, it is too late. One might as well get a good night's sleep and send flowers with an apology in the morning.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Good Night #Morning #Flower

  • People will say, 'Seventy isn't old, it's middle-aged,' and I think, middle of what - 140?
    -- Judith Martin

    #Thinking #People #Middle

  • It is said that dispensing advice is easy. What is difficult is getting anyone to listen to it.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Advice #Easy #Said

  • People think, mistakenly, that etiquette means you have to suppress your differences. On the contray, etiquette is what enables you to deal with them; it gives you a set of rules.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Mean #Thinking #Differences

  • Etiquette is about all of human social behavior. Behavior is regulated by law when etiquette breaks down or when the stakes are high - violations of life, limb, property and so on. Barring that, etiquette is a little social contract we make that we will restrain some of our more provocative impulses in return for living more or less harmoniously in a community.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Law #Community #Return

  • Honesty is a virtue, but not the only one. If you're in a courtroom you need the whole truth and nothing but the truth; in the living room, sometimes you need anything but. Often.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Honesty #Needs #Rooms

  • In its natural state, the child tells the literal truth because it is too naive to think of anything else. Blurting out the complete truth is considered adorable in the young, right smack up to the moment that the child says, 'Mommy, is this the fat lady you can't stand?
    -- Judith Martin

    #Children #Honesty #Thinking

  • It is not rude to turn off your telephone by switching it on to an answering machine, which is cheaper and less disruptive than ripping it out of the wall. Those who are offended because they cannot always get through when they seek, at their own convenience, to barge in on people are suffering from a rude expectation.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Wall #People #Expectations

  • many of the guests will eventually leave the table to watch football on television, which would be a rudeness at any other occasion but is a relief at Thanksgiving and probably the only way to get those people to budge.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Thanksgiving #Football #People

  • Knowing that others have gone through similar tragedies may be a help, but it should be remembered that every tragedy is not only commonplace but also unique.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Unique #Knowing #Tragedy

  • It doesn't matter whether the bride or the bridegroom writes the letters of thanks for wedding presents provided that these go out immediately after the arrival of each present and are not in the handwriting of the bride's mother.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Mother #Writing #Letters

  • Precision marching is less important for the bridal party than maintaining the proper facial expresssions: The bridegroom must look awed; the bridesmaids, happy and excited; the father of the bride, proud; and the bride, demure. If the bridegroom feels doubtful, the bridesmaids, sulky, the father, worried, and the bride, blasé, nobody wants to know.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Father #Party #Important

  • One should not be assigned one's identity in society by the job slot one happens to fill. If we truly believe in the dignity of labor, any task can be performed with equal pride because none can demean the basic dignity of a human being.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Jobs #Work #Believe

  • Washington knows that it is not safe to kick people who are down until you find out what their next stop will be.
    -- Judith Martin

    #People #Safe #Next

  • You don't want to look too chic at a Washington party or people will think you don't have a job worth losing.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Jobs #Party #Thinking

  • Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without a comment is a wonderful social grace ... Children who have the habit of constantly correcting should be stopped before they grow up to drive spouses and everyone else crazy by interrupting stories to say, 'No, dear -- it was Tuesday, not Wednesday.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Children #Growing Up #Crazy

  • Should you happen to notice that another person is extremely tall or overweight, eats too much or declines convivial drinks, has red hair or goes about in a wheelchair, ought to get married or ought not to be pregnant -- see if you can refrain from bringing these astonishing observations to that person's attention.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Hair #Attention #Red

  • I make a distinction between manners and etiquette - manners as the principles, which are eternal and universal, etiquette as the particular rules which are arbitrary and different in different times, different situations, different cultures.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Principles #Different #Culture

  • When people start hurling insults at you, you know their minds are closed and there's no point in debating. You disengage yourself as quickly as possible from the situation.
    -- Judith Martin

    #People #Mind #Insult

  • Screening telephone calls with a receptionist or the humbler answering machine is not a dishonorable thing to do. The warmest people in the world still need uninterrupted time to attend to their lives and should not be outwitted if they have made it obvious that they are not always available upon summons.
    -- Judith Martin

    #People #Needs #Machines

  • From Memorial Day to Labor Day, you may wear white shoes. Not before and not after. As a command, the White Shoe Edict should be clear and simple enough. Do not violate it. In a society in which everything else has become relative, a matter of how it makes you feel, a question between you and your conscience, and an opportunity for you to be really you, this is an absolute.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Memorial Day #Opportunity #Simple

  • Shame is the proper reaction when one has purposefully violated the accepted behavior of society. Inflicting it is etiquette's response when its rules are disobeyed. The law has all kinds of nasty ways of retaliating when it is disregarded, but etiquette has only a sense of social shame to deter people from treating others in ways they know are wrong. So naturally Miss Manners wants to maintain the sense of shame. Some forms of discomfort are fully justified, and the person who feels shame ought to be dealing with removing its causes rather than seeking to relieve the symptoms.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Law #People #Missing

  • It is a widespread and firm belief among guests that their departure is always a matter of distress to their hosts, and that in order to indicate that they have been pleasantly entertained, they must demonstrate an extreme unwillingness to allow the entertainment to conclude. This is not necessarily true.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Order #Departure #Guests

  • Visiting the sick is supposed to exhibit such great virtue that there are some people determined to do it whether the sick like it or not. ... All visitors everywhere are supposed to make plans to depart if they observe their hosts visibly wilting or in pain, but this is especially true at hospitals.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Pain #People #Sick

  • Why bring children into a world where no one writes letters?
    -- Judith Martin

    #Children #Writing #World

  • The whole country wants civility. Why don't we have it? It doesn't cost anything. No federal funding, no legislation is involved. One answer is the unwillingness to restrain oneself. Everybody wants other people to be polite to them, but they want the freedom of not having to be polite to others.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Country #People #Cost

  • The challenge of manners is not so much to be nice to someone whose favor and/or person you covet (although more people need to be reminded of that necessity than one would suppose) as to be exposed to the bad manners of others without imitating them.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Nice #People #Challenges

  • Like language, a code of manners can be used with more or less skill, for laudable or for evil purposes, to express a great variety of ideas and emotions. In itself, it carries no moral value, but ignorance in use of this tool is not a sign of virtue.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Ignorance #Skills #Ideas

  • I have always believed that the key to a happy marriage was the ability to say with a straight face, 'Why, I don't know what you're worrying about. I thought you were very funny last night and I'm sure everybody else did, too.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Night #Keys #Worry

  • The etiquette question that troubles so many fastidious people New Year's Day is: How am I ever going to face those people again?
    -- Judith Martin

    #New Year #Years #People

  • people, in forming their opinions of others, are usually lazy enough to go by whatever is most obvious or whatever chance remark they happen to hear. So the best policy is to dictate to others the opinion you want them to have of you.
    -- Judith Martin

    #People #Lazy #Want

  • When politeness is used to show up other people, it is reclassified as rudeness. Thus it is technically impossible to be too polite.
    -- Judith Martin

    #People #Impossible #Rudeness

  • It has always puzzled me, in my business, that people think they have to answer questions, no matter how disagreeable or dangerous, just because they were asked. Of course, we journalists would be out of business if they didn't.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Thinking #People #Would Be

  • everyone old enough to have a secret is entitled to have some place to keep it.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Secret #Enough

  • Whamming someone smaller than oneself in order to teach that person civilized behavior is not within Miss Manners' concept of propriety, much less logic.
    -- Judith Martin

    #Order #Missing #Logic