Alexander Hamilton defends his honour by accepting Aaron Burr's challenge.
I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not honor more. ~ Richard Lovelace

Honor or honour, is an abstract concept of a perceived quality of virtues, worthiness and respectability that affects both the social standing and the self-evaluation of an individual or corporate body such as a family, school, regiment or nation. Accordingly, individuals (or corporate bodies) are assigned worth and stature based on the harmony of their actions with a specific code of honour, and the moral code of the society at large. In Psychological nativism it is viewed as being as real to the human condition as love, and likewise deriving from the formative personal bonds that establish one's personal dignity and character; from stances of moral relativism, it can be perceived as arising from universal concerns for material circumstance and status, rather than fundamental differences in principle between those who hold different honour codes. Samuel Johnson, defined honour as having several senses, the first of which was "nobility of soul, magnanimity, and a scorn of meanness."


Sorted alphabetically by author or source
  • Better to die ten thousand deaths,
    Than wound my honour.
  • Content thyself to be obscurely good.
    When vice prevails and impious men bear sway,
    The post of honor is a private station.
  • “Honor” sighs softly on the wind, teasing my ears, and I want to scream at the absolute idiocy of it. I did the wrong thing for the right reasons and I'm supposed to be happy with that?
    • Bernie Arntzen, On My Honor in Assassin Fantastic (ed. Martin H. Greenberg and Alexander Potter, 2001), p. 235
  • Honor is like the eye, which cannot suffer the least impurity without damage. It is a precious stone, the price of which is lessened by a single flaw.
    • Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, quoted in "The Forbes Book of Business Quotations" (1997) by Edward C. Goodman, Ted Goodman , p. 411.
  • "What is honor, and riches, and the favor of creatures - so long as I lack the favor of God, the pardon of my sins, a saving interest in Christ, and the hope of glory! O Lord, give me these, or I die! Give me these, or else I shall eternally die!"
  • Honour is like a widow, won
    With brisk attempt and putting on.
  • Now, while the honour thou hast got
    Is spick and span new.
  • If he that in the field is slain
    Be in the bed of honour lain,
    He that is beaten may be said
    To lie in Honour's truckle-bed.
    • Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part I (1663-64), Canto III, line 1,047.
  • As quick as lightning, in the breach
    Just in the place where honour's lodged,
    As wise philosophers have judged,
    Because a kick in that place more
    Hurts Honour than deep wounds before.
  • If I lost the privilege of being despised by certain individuals, I would certainly suspect that my actions and words are wrong in some way.
    • Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Simply Transcribed. Quotations from Writings by Fausto Cercignani, 2014, quote 59.
  • Semper in fide quid senseris, non quid dixeris, cogitandum.
    • In honorable dealing you should consider what you intended, not what you said or thought.
    • Cicero, De Officiis (44 B.C.), I. 13.
  • I have never had to look up a definition of honor. I knew instinctively what it was. It is something I had the day I was born, and I never had to question where it came from or by what right it was mine. If I was stripped of my honor, I would choose death as certainly and unemotionally as I clean my shoes in the morning. Honor is the presence of God in man.
  • "We have no other choice. Our submission would serve no end; if Germany is victorious, Belgium, whatever her attitude, will be annexed to the Reich. If die we must, better death with honour."
    • Prime Minister de Broqueville of Belgium, responding to Germany's demand for Belgium's capitulation, 2 August 1914[citation needed]
  • The honor of a nation is an important thing. It is said in the Scriptures, “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” It may be said, also, What doth it profit a nation if it gain the whole world, but lose its honor?
  • "Honour thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."
    • Exodus 20:12, KJV.
  • Titles of honour add not to his worth,
    Who is himself an honour to his titles.
    • John Ford, The Lady's Trial (licensed 3 May 1638; printed 1639), Act I, scene 3, line 30.
  • Give me, kind Heaven, a private station,
    A mind serene for contemplation:
    Title and profit I resign:
    The post of honor shall be mine.
    • John Gay, Fables (1727), Part II. The Vulture, the Sparrow and other Birds.
  • True honour is an attachment to honest and beneficent principles, and a good reputation; and prompts a man to do good to others, and indeed to all men, at his own cost, pains, or peril. False honour is a pretence to this character, but does things that destroy it: And the abuse of honour is called honour, by those who from that good word borrow credit to act basely, rashly, or foolishly.
  • "Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing."
  • And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
  • Whoever appeals to the law against his fellow man is either a fool or a coward. Whoever cannot take care of himself without that law is both. For a wounded man shall say to his assailant, "If I live, I will kill you. If I die, you are forgiven." Such is the rule of honor.
  • Before gray hair you should rise up, and you must show honor to an older man, and you must be in fear of your God. I am Jehovah.
  • In honour I gained them, and in honour I will die with them.
    • Horatio Nelson, Life of Nelson (ch. 9), when asked to cover the stars on his uniform to hide his rank during battle.
  • "Oh Lord! How many of these you surely have spilt over the world, who suffer for the black so-called honour what they would not suffer for you!" (Lázaro) [...] "I make you know that I am, as you see, a squire; but, by God!, if Ï meet the count on the street and he does not fully take off his hat before me, next time I will know to enter a house, simulating to have some business there, or cross to another street, if there is one, before he reaches me, so that I will not take off mine. That a hidalgo does not owe anything to anybody but God and the king, nor it is proper, being a good man, to lose a comma of care in regarding himself highly." (The Squire)
  • I could not love thee, dear, so much,
    Loved I not honor more.
  • "Duty, Honor, Country" — those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.
  • "… during the time that the aristocracy was dominant, the concepts honour, loyalty, etc. were dominant, during the dominance of the bourgeoisie the concepts freedom, equality, etc."
  • "I will be forced to sink [the US ships], because even if I have one ship left I will proceed with the bombardment. Spain, the Queen and I prefer honour without ships than ships without honour."
    • Casto Méndez Núñez on the Valparaiso bombardment.[specific citation needed]
  • "Honor is what a man owns...."
    • Esteban Pallares "The Honorable Pallares", p. 1,562.
  • Yea, much more those that seem to be the more feeble members of the body, are more necessary. And such as we think to be the less honourable members of the body, about these we put more abundant honour; and those that are our uncomely parts, have more abundant comeliness. But our comely parts have no need [...]
  • Are you not ashamed that you give your attention to acquiring as much money as possible, and similarly with reputation and honor, and give no attention or thought to truth and understanding and the perfection of your soul?
  • Honour and shame from no condition rise;
    Act well your part, there all the honour lies.
  • "To die with honour, when one can no longer live with honour."
  • A bon entendeur ne faut qu'un parole.
    • A good intention does not mean honor.
    • François Rabelais, Pantagruel (1532), Book V, Chapter VII.
  • Well, 'tis no matter; honour pricks me on. Yea, but how if honour prick me off, when I come on? how then? Can honour set to a leg? no: or an arm? no: or take away the grief of a wound? no: Honour hath no skill in surgery, then? no. What is honour? a word. What is that word honour? air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it? he that died o' Wednesday. Doth he feel it? no. Doth he hear it? no. Is it insensible, then? Yea, to the dead. But will it not live with the living? no. Why? detraction will not suffer it. Therefore, I'll none of it. Honour is a mere scutcheon; and so ends my catechism.
  • Let none presume
    To wear an undeserv'd dignity.
    O, that estates, degrees and offices
    Were not deriv'd corruptly, and that clear honour
    Were purchas'd by the merit of the wearer!
  • Mine honor is my life, both grow in one. Take honor from me, and my life is done. Then, dear my liege, mine honor let me try; In that I live, and for that I will die.
  • I had rather crack my sinews, break my back,
    Than you should such dishonour undergo.
  • Honour sits smiling at the sale of truth.
  • Honours ought to come from merit, and from merit alone.
    • Lord St. Leonards, Brownlow v. Egerton (1853), 23 L. J. Rep. (N. S.) 415; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 100.
  • A man is honorable in proportion to the personal risks he takes for his opinion.
    • Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (2012) Ch. 9. Fat Tony and the Fragilistas, p. 147.
  • "… Honour … remains awake in us like a last lamp in a temple that has been laid to waste."
  • "Chose disgrace where obedience did not bring honour"
    • Anon. inscription on tombstone of Prussian General Johann Friedrich Adolf von der Marwitz, who received after the victory over Saxony an order by Frederick the Great to take and remove the famous library of Count Brühl to Berlin and who replied to his king: "This is unbefitting to an officer of His Majesty" and resigned his commission.
  • "I will to my lord be true and faithful, and love all which he loves and shun all which he shuns."

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 372-75.
  • The sense of honour is of so fine and delicate a nature, that it is only to be met with in minds which are naturally noble, or in such as have been cultivated by good examples, or a refined education.
  • Turpe quid ausurus, te sine teste time.
    • When about to commit a base deed, respect thyself, though there is no witness.
    • Ansonius, Septem Sapientum Sententiæ Septenis Veribus Explicatæ, III. 7.
  • The best memorial for a mighty man is to gain honor ere death.
  • L'honneur est comme une île escarpée et sans bords;
    On n'y peut plus rentrer dès qu'on en est dehors.
    • Honor is like an island, rugged and without shores; we can never re-enter it once we are on the outside.
    • Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux, Satires, X. 167.
  • Nulla est laus ibi esse integrum, ubi nemo est, qui aut possit aut conetur rumpere.
    • There is no praise in being upright, where no one can, or tries to corrupt you.
    • Cicero, In Verrem, II. 1. 16.
  • Nec tibi quid liceat, sed quid fecisse decebit
    Occurrat, mentemque domet respectus honesti.
    • Do not consider what you may do, but what it will become you to have done, and let the sense of honor subdue your mind.
    • Claudianus, De Quarto Consulatu Honorii Augusti Panegyris, CCLXVII.
  • Honor lies in honest toil.
    • Glover Cleveland, letter accepting nomination for President (Aug. 18, 1884). In William Q. Stoddard, Life of Grover Cleveland, Chapter XV.
  • Ici l'honneur m'oblige, et j'y veux satisfaire.
    • Here honor binds me, and I wish to satisfy it.
    • Pierre Corneille, Polyeucte, IV. 3.
  • And all at Worcester but the honour lost.
  • These were honoured in their generations, and were the glory of the times.
    • Ecclesiasticus. XLIV. 7.
  • Madame, pour vous faire savoir comme se porte le resté de mon infortune, de toutes choses m'est demeuré que l'honneur et la vie qui est sauvé.
    • Madame, that you may know the state of the rest of my misfortune, there is nothing left to me but honor, and my life, which is saved.
    • Francis I, to his mother. Written in the Letter of safe conduct given to the Viceroy of Naples for the Commander Penalosa the morning after Pavia. See Aimé Champollion, Captivité de François I. Figeac, p. 129 (Ed. 1847). In Martin, Histoire de France, Volume VIII. Sismondi, Volume XVI, p. 241.
  • Your word is as good as the Bank, sir.
    • Holcroft, The Road to Ruin, Act I, scene 3.
  • Honour is but an itch in youthful blood
    Of doing acts extravagantly good.
    • Howard, Indian Queen.
  • Great honours are great burdens, but on whom
    They are cast with envy, he doth bear two loads.
    His cares must still be double to his joys,
    In any dignity.
    • Ben Jonson, Catiline, His Conspiracy, Act III, scene 1, line 1.
  • Summum crede nefas, animum præferre pudori,
    Et propter vitam vivendi perdere causas.
    • Believe it to be the greatest of all infamies, to prefer your existence to your honor, and for the sake of life to lose every inducement to live.
    • Juvenal, Satires, VIII. 83.
  • Dead on the field of honour.
    • Answer given in the roll-call of La Tour d' Auvergne's regiment after his death.
  • Quod pulcherrimum idem tutissimum est.
    • What is honorable is also safest.
    • Livy, Annales, XXXIV. 14.
  • Perchè non i titoli illustrano gli uomini, ma gli uomini i titoli.
    • For titles do not reflect honor on men, but rather men on their titles.
    • Niccolò Machiavelli, Dei Discorsi, III. 38.
  • Honour is purchas'd by the deeds we do;
    * * honour is not won,
    Until some honourable deed be done.
  • To set the cause above renown,
    To love the game beyond the prize,
    To honor while you strike him down,
    The foe that comes with fearless eyes;
    To count the life of battle good
    And dear the land that gave you birth,
    And dearer yet the brotherhood
    That binds the brave of all the earth.
    • Henry Newboldt, Clifton Chapel.
  • When honor comes to you be ready to take it;
    But reach not to seize it before it is near.
  • Honour, the spur that pricks the princely mind,
    To follow rule and climb the stately chair.
  • We'll shine in more substantial honours,
    And to be noble, we'll be good.
  • Et ille quidem plenus annis abiit, plenus honoribus, illis etiam quos recusavit.
    • He died full of years and of honors, equally illustrious by those he refused as by those he accepted.
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistles, II. 1.
  • A Quixotic sense of the honorable—of the chivalrous.
  • Faisons ce que l'honneur exige.
    • Let us do what honor demands.
    • Jean Racine, Bérénice, IV. 4.
  • Mais sans argent l'honneur n'est qu'une maladie.
    • But without money honor is nothing but a malady.
    • Jean Racine, Plaideurs, I. 1.
  • Nichtswürdig ist die Nation, die nicht
    Ihr alles freudig setzt an ihre Ehre.
    • That nation is worthless which does not joyfully stake everything on her honor.
    • Friedrich Schiller, Die Jungfrau von Orleans, I. 5. 81.
  • Das Herz und nicht die Meinung ehrt den Mann.
    • What he feels and not what he does honors a man.
    • Friedrich Schiller, Wallenstein's Tod, IV. 8. 70.
  • His honor rooted in dishonor stood,
    And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.
  • The nation's honor is dearer than the nation's comfort; yes, than the nation's life itself.
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