C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


Man shows his character best in trifles.


Trifles themselves are elegant in him.


Men are led by trifles.


These little things are great to little men.


Things fit only to give weight to smoke.


A snapper-up of unconsidered trifles.


A small unkindness is a great offence.

Hannah More.

Triflers not even in trifles can excel.


There is nothing insignificant, nothing!


The gay motes that people the sunbeams.


The smallest hair throws its shadow.


Trifles make up the happiness or the misery of mortal life.

Alexander Smith.

We must not stand upon trifles.


A trifle makes a dream, a trifle breaks.


By great efforts obtain great trifles.


These trifles will lead to serious mischief.


The chains which cramp us most are those which weigh on us least.

Mme. Swetchine.

It is but the littleness of man that seeth no greatness in trifles.

Wendell Phillips.

Affection, like melancholy, magnifies trifles.

Leigh Hunt.

Trifles discover a character, more than actions of importance.


Contentions for trifles can get but a trifling victory.

Sir P. Sidney.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one pace.


Little things console us, because little things afflict us.


Alas! by what slight means are great affairs brought to destruction.


A drop of water is as powerful as a thunder-bolt.


There is a kind of latent omniscience, not only in every man, but in every particle.


Trifles light as air are to the jealous confirmations strong as proofs of holy writ.


The pathetic almost always consists in the detail of little circumstances.


Trifles render us miserable, but trifles also console us.


What mighty contests rise from trivial things!


A stray hair, by its continued irritation, may give more annoyance than a smart blow.


There some trifles well habited, as there are some fools well clothed.


Trifles lighter than straws are levers in the building up of character.


The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.


The earth hath bubbles, as the water has, and these are of them.


The power of duly appreciating little things belongs to a great mind; a narrow-minded man has it not, for to him they are great things.


  • At every trifle scorn to take offence;
  • That always shows great pride or little sense.
  • Pope.

  • Seeks painted trifles and fantastic toys,
  • And eagerly pursues imaginary joys.
  • Akenside.

    A weak mind is like a microscope, which magnifies trifling things, but cannot receive great ones.


    Those who bestow too much application on trifling things become generally incapable of great ones.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Think nought a trifle, though it small appear; small sands the mountain, moments make the year.


    Each particle of matter is an immensity, each leaf a world, each insect an inexplicable compendium.


    Those who place their affections at first on trifles for amusement, will find these trifles become at last their most serious concerns.


    A fly is a very light burden; but if it were perpetually to return and settle on one’s nose, it might weary us of our very lives.

    Fredrika Bremer.

    A grain of sand leads to the fall of a mountain when the moment has come for the mountain to fall.

    Ernest Renan.

    Trifle we should not let plague us only, but also gratify us; we should seize not their poison-bags only, but their honey-bags also.


  • Come, gentlemen, we sit too long on trifles,
  • And waste the time, which looks for other revels.
  • Shakespeare.

    Exploding many things under the name of trifles is a very false proof either of wisdom or magnanimity, and a great check to virtuous actions with regard to fame.


    The soft droppes of raine perce the hard marble, many strokes overthrow the tallest oke.


  • Rivers from bubbling springs
  • Have rise at first; and great, from abject things.
  • Middleton.

    What will this boaster produce worthy of this mouthing? The mountains are in labor; a ridiculous mouse will be born.


    When I see the elaborate study and ingenuity displayed by woman in the pursuit of trifles, I feel no doubt of their capacity for the most herculean undertakings.

    Julia Ward Howe.

    The great moments of life are but moments like the others. Your doom is spoken in a word or two. A single look from the eyes, a mere pressure of the hand, may decide it; or of the lips though they cannot speak.


    Petty vexations may at times be petty, but still they are vexations. The smallest and most inconsiderable annoyances are the most piercing.


    It has been well observed that the misery of man proceeds not from any single crush of overwhelming evil, but from small vexations continually repeated.


    A slight answer to an intricate and useless question, is a fit cover to such a dish,—a cabbage-leaf is good enough to cover a dish of mushrooms.

    Jeremy Taylor.

    There is a vigilance and judgment about trifles which men only get by living in a crowd; and those are the trifles of detail, on which the success of execution depends.


    A little, and a little, collected together become a great deal; the heap in the barn consists of single grains, and drop and drop from an inundation.


    There is nothing too little for so little a creature as man. It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible.


    Whoever shall review his life, will find that the whole tenor of his conduct has been determined by some accident of no apparent moment.


    We are not only pleased, but turned, by a feather. The history of man is a calendar of straws. “If the nose of Cleopatra had been shorter,” said Pascal, in his brilliant way, “Antony might have kept the world.”


    Nothing is small or great in God’s sight. Whatever He wills becomes great to us, however seemingly trifling; and if once the voice of conscience tells us that He requires anything of us, we have no right to measure its importance.

    Jean Nicolas Grou.

    As small letters hurt the sight, so do small matters him that is too much intent upon them; they vex and stir up anger, which begets an evil habit in him in reference to greater affairs.


    There is no real elevation of mind in a contempt of little things; it is, on the contrary, from too narrow views that we consider those things of little importance which have in fact such extensive consequences.


    It is in those acts called trivialities that the seeds of joy are forever wasted, until men and women look around with haggard faces at the devastation their own waste has made, and say the earth bears no harvest of sweetness, calling their denial knowledge.

    George Eliot.

    He that resigns his peace to little casualties, and suffers the course of his life to be interrupted for fortuitous inadvertencies or offences, delivers up himself to the direction of the wind, and loses all that constancy and equanimity which constitutes the chief praise of a wise man.

    Dr. Johnson.

    There is not one grain in the universe, either too much or too little, nothing to be added, nothing to be spared; nor so much as any one particle of it, that mankind may not be either the better or the worse for, according as it is applied.


    A spark is a molecule of matter, yet may it kindle the world; vast is the mighty ocean, but drops have made it vast. Despise not thou small things, either for evil or for good; for a look may work thy ruin, or a word create thy wealth.


    Frivolous curiosity about trifles, and laborious attentions to little objects which neither require nor deserve a moment’s thought, lower a man, who from thence is thought (and not unjustly) incapable of greater matters. Cardinal de Retz very sagaciously marked out Cardinal Chigi for a little mind, from the moment he told him that he had wrote three years with the same pen, and that it was an excellent good one still.


    In mortals there is a care for trifles which proceeds from love and conscience, and is most holy; and a care for trifles which comes of idleness and frivolity, and is most base. And so, also, there is a gravity proceeding from thought, which is most noble; and a gravity proceeding from dulness and mere incapability of enjoyment, which is most base.


    Great merit or great failings will make you respected or despised; but trifles, little attentions, mere nothings, either done or neglected, will make you either liked or disliked, in the general run of the world. Examine yourself, why you like such and such people and dislike such and such others; and you will find that those different sentiments proceed from very slight causes.


    The mind of the greatest man on earth is not so independent of circumstances as not to feel inconvenienced by the merest buzzing noise about him; it does not need the report of a cannon to disturb his thoughts. The creaking of a vane or a pully is quite enough. Do not wonder that he reasons ill just now; a fly is buzzing by his ear; it is quite enough to unfit him for giving good counsel.


    It is curious to observe the triumph of slight incidents over the mind; and what incredible weight they have in forming and governing our opinions, both of men and things, that trifles light as air shall waft a belief into the soul, and plant it so immovable within it, that Euclid’s demonstrations, could they be brought to batter it in breach, should not all have power to overthrow it!