Ambition, n. An overmastering desire to be vilified by enemies while living and made ridiculous by friends when dead. Ambrose Gwinett Bierce
The Cynic's Word Book. Retitled The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
'I only took the regular course.' 'What was that?' inquired Alice. Carroll 'Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with,'the MockTurtle replied; 'and then the different branches of ArithmeticAmbition, Distraction,Uglification, and Derision.' Dodgson
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, ch.9,'The Mock Turtle's Story'.
The people who lived behind those clean lace curtains in row after row of identical boxes were newspaper readers, and every word in at any rate my newspaper must be clear and comprehensible to them, must be interesting to them, must encourage them to break away from littleness, stimulate their ambition, help them to want to build a better land. Arthur Christiansen
Headlines all my Life, ch.1.
This monstrous mixture of imbecility, extravagance and political hysteria, better known as the Bill for the future government of Irelandthis farrago of superlative nonsense, is to be put in motion for this reason and no other: to gratify the ambition of an old man in a hurry. Lord Randolph Henry Spencer Churchill
Pamphlet attacking Gladstone's Home Rule Bill, Jun.
At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And myambition has been growing steadily ever since. Salvador Dal|
The Secret Life of Salvador Dal|, prologue.
What argufies pride and ambition? Soon or late death will take us in tow: Each bullet has got its commission, And when our time's come we must go. Porfirio Diaz
'Each Bullet Has Got Its Commission'. First published1803.
And all my endeavours are unlucky explorers come back, abandoning the expedition; the specimens, the lilies of ambition still spring in their climate, still unpicked; but time, time is all I lacked to find them, as the great collectors before me. Gavin Douglas
'On a Return from Egypt,1943^44' (published1946).
What cannot praise effect in mighty minds, When flattery soothes, and when ambition blinds! John Dryden
Absalom and Achitophel, pt.1, l.303^4.
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil, Their homely joys and destiny obscure; Nor Grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile, The short and simple annals of the poor. The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, Awaits alike th' inevitable hour, The paths of glory lead but to the grave. Thomas Gray
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, l.29^36.
A writer's ambition should beto trade a hundred contemporary readers for ten readers in ten years'time and for one reader in a hundred years. Arthur Koestler
In the NewYork Times Book Review,1 Apr.
Iwanted toattempt something of ambition and size even if that meant I might be accused of straying too close to ambition's ugly twin, pretentiousness. Tony Kushner
Of his Angels in America, written in two parts. In the New York Times, 21 Nov.
Shenever wantedtobe sexy, but inthose daysambitions were different, and she was the most ambitious of them all. Karl Lagerfeld
Of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor. In the NewYork Times,19 Sep.
My ambition is that men should have a voluptuous feeling when they look at the portraits I paint of women. Love interests me more than painting. My pictures are the love stories I tell to myself and which I want to tell others. Marie Laurencin
Quoted in Gabrielle Buffet 'Marie Laurencin', in The Arts 3 (1903).
Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present: fear, avarice, lust and ambition look ahead. C(live) S(taples) Lewis
The Screwtape Letters, no.15.
It is ambition enough to be employed as an under- labourer in clearing ground a little, and removing some of the rubbish that lies in the way to knowledge. 514 John Locke
Essay Concerning Human Understanding,'Epistle to the Reader'.
The lower still I fall, only supreme In misery; such joy ambition finds. John Milton
Satan. Paradise Lost (published1667), bk.4, l.91^2.
Here, of all her cities, throbbed the true lifethe true power and spirit of America; gigantic, crude with the crudityof youth, disdaining rivalry; saneand healthyand vigorous; brutal in its ambition, arrogant in the new- found knowledge of its giant strength, prodigal of its wealth, infinite in its desires. Frank Benjamin Franklin Norris
Of Chicago. The Pit, ch.2.
During my tenure of power, myearnest wish has beento impress the people of this country with a belief that the legislature was animated bya sincere desire to frame its legislation upon the principles of equity and justice Deprive me of power tomorrow, but you can never deprive me of the consciousness that I have exercised the powers committed to me from no corrupt or interested motives, from no desire to gratifyambition, or to attain any personal object. Sir Robert Peel
On the repeal of the Corn Laws, House of Commons, 15 May.
Amid the wreck and the misery of nations it is our just exaltation that we have continued superior to all that ambition or despotism could effect; and our still higher exaltation ought to be that we provide not only for our own safety but hold out a prospect for nations now bending under the yoke of tyranny of what the exertions of a free people can effect. William known as theYounger Pitt
Speech to the House of Commons, 25 Apr.
Awake, my St.John! leave all meaner things To low ambition, and the pride of kings. Let us (since Life can little more supply Than just to look about us and to die) Expatiate free o'er all this scene of man; A mighty maze! but not without a plan. Alexander Pope
An Essay on Man, epistle1, l.1^6.
No one ever complains if a great artist says that he was driven to create a masterpiece by a hunger for recognition and money.But a scientist? Well, he ismeant to be disinterested, pure, his ambition merely to descry the cement of the universe. He isn't meant to use it to start laying his own patio. Will Self
The QuantityTheory of Insanity and Five Supporting Propositions,'The QuantityTheory of Insanity'.
Whatever may have been my enthusiasm or impatience to be up and doing on the night before, the hour for getting up always finds me with no other ambition in the world than to be permitted to lie where I am and sleep, sleep, sleep.Not soTilman.Ihave never met anyonewith such a complete disregard for the sublime comforts of the early morning bed. However monstrously early we might decide, thenight before, toget up, hewas about at least half an hour before the time. He was generally very good about it, and used to sit placidly smoking his pipe over the fire. Eric Earle Shipton
On climbing with H W (Bill) Tilman. Nanda Devi.
Ambition if it feeds at all, does so on the ambition of others. Susan Sontag
The Benefactor, ch.1.
Ambition, madam, is a great man's madness, That is not kept in chains, and close-pent rooms, But in fair lightsome lodgings, and isgirt With the wild noise of prattling visitants, Which makes it lunatic beyond all cure. John WebsterSearch Quotes Webster's New World Dictionary of Quotations Copyright © 2010 by Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. Published by Wiley, Hoboken, NJ. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
The Duchess of Malfi, act1, sc.1.
Create and save customized word lists. Sign up today and start improving your vocabulary!
Please set a username for yourself.
People will see it as Author Name with your public word lists.