The Greatest Literary Catchphrases

Language is a fluid, ever-evolving thing. There are a few words we could do without, but many catchphrases have stuck with us through the decades — some more stubborn than others. Those that have their roots in literature, or those at least popularized by books, seem to have the most staying power. The printed catchphrase feels more practical, timeless, and stalwart than those words echoing in movie houses — and literary dialogue is often the backbone of cinema scripts in our adaptation-heavy culture. We took a glance back at several catchphrases from the world of literature that have made their way into our vernacular and others that are memorable for their context and poetry. We hope you’ll continue adding to the list, below.


“Bah! Humbug!”

Our inspiration for this list of literary catchphrases comes from the miserly Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ classic story, A Christmas Carol. ‘Tis the season to adopt the cold-hearted character’s line while Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” bores its way deeper into our skulls and news reports of people fighting over electronics and toys make us weary.