Ambition Sayings and Quotes

Below you will find our collection of inspirational, wise, and humorous old ambition quotes, ambition sayings, and ambition proverbs, collected over the years from a variety of sources.

Ambition is a good servant but a bad master.      


Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them.     

Napoleon Bonaparte

Ambition is a lust that is never quenched, but grows more inflamed and madder by enjoyment.      

Thomas Otway

Ambition is the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds.      

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.      

Mark Twain

Ambition beats genius 99% of the time      

Jay Leno

A man without ambition is like a beautiful worm--it can creep, but it cannot fly.     

Henry Ward Beecher

Ambition is to the mind what the cap is to the falcon; it blinds us first, and then compels us to tower, by reason of our blindness. But alas, when we are at the summit of a vain ambition, we are also at the depth of real misery. We are placed where time cannot improve, but must impair us; where chance and change cannot befriend, but may betray us; in short, by attaining all we wish, and gaining all we want, we have only reached a pinnacle where we have nothing to hope, but everything to fear.     

Charles Caleb Colton

Ambition first sprung from your blest abodes; The glorious fault of Angels and of Gods.     

Alexander Pope

Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine.     

Elvis Presley

Ambition is like love, impatient both of delays and rivals.      

Sir John Denham

Ambition is an uncomfortable companion many times. He creates a discontent with present surroundings and achievements; he is never satisfied but always pressing forward to better things in the future. Restless, energetic, purposeful, it is ambition that makes of the creature a real man.     

Lyndon B. Johnson

Ambition is so powerful a passion in the human breast, that however high we reach we are never satisfied.      

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Ambition has its disappointments to sour us, but never the good fortune to satisfy us. Its appetite grows keener by indulgence and all we can gratify it with at present serves but the more to inflame its insatiable desires.     

Benjamin Franklin

Ambition is an idol, on whose wings great minds are carried only to extreme, to be sublimely great, or to be nothing.     

Thomas Southerne

Ambition is a Dead Sea fruit, and the greatest peril to the soul is that one is likely to get precisely what he is seeking.      

Edward Dahlberg

Where ambition can cover its enterprises, even to the person himself, under the appearance of principle, it is the most incurable and inflexible of passions.      

David Hume

Ambition often puts Men upon doing the meanest offices; so climbing is performed in the same position with creeping.      

Jonathan Swift

It is the nature of ambition to make men liars and cheats, to hide the truth in their breasts, and show, like jugglers, another thing in their mouths, to cut all friendships and enmities to the measure of their own interest, and to make a good countenance without the help of good will.      


Ambition. An overmastering desire to be vilified by enemies while living and made ridiculous by friends when dead.      

Ambrose Bierce

Ambition is a poor excuse for not having sense enough to be lazy.      

Edgar Bergen

Say what we will, we may be sure that ambition is an error. Its wear and tear on the heart are never recompensed.      

Edward Bulwer-Lytton

It will not be amiss to distinguish the three kinds and, as it were, grades of ambition in mankind. The first is of those who desire to extend their own power in their native country, a vulgar and degenerate kind. The second is of those who labor to extend the power and dominion of their country among men. This certainly has more dignity, though not less covetousness. But if a man endeavor to establish and extend the power and dominion of the human race itself over the universe, his ambition (if ambition it can be called) is without doubt both a more wholesome and a more noble thing than the other two.      

Francis Bacon

Most people would succeed in small things, if they were not troubled with great ambitions.      

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Ambition is a gilded misery, a secret poison, a hidden plague, the engineer of deceit, the mother of hypocrisy, the parent of envy, the original of vices, the moth of holiness, the blinder of hearts, turning medicines into maladies, and remedies into diseases.      

Thomas Brooks

Ambition has but one reward for all: A little power, a little transient fame, A grave to rest in, and a fading name!      

William Winter

Ambition destroys its possessor.      

Hebrew (on ambition)

Ambition begets vexations.      

Singhalese (on ambition)

If you would get ahead, be a bridge.      

Welsh (on ambition)

Ambition is putting a ladder against the sky.      


Ambition and the belly are the two worst counselors.      

German Proverb

Love, a pleasant folly; ambition, a serious stupidity.      

Nicolas Chamfort

Though ambition in itself is a vice, yet it is often the parent of virtues.     


The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.      

William Shakespeare

Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.     

John D. Rockefeller

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.     

Helen Keller

Big results require big ambitions.     


Great minds have purposes; others have wishes.     

Washington Irving

Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.     

Bill Bradley

Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.     

Salvador Dali

I've got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom.     

Thomas Carlyle

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal, nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.     

Thomas Jefferson

Ambition can creep as well as soar.     

Edmund Burke

Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition.     

Abraham Lincoln

Failure is only postponed success as long as courage coaches ambition. The habit of persistence is the habit of victory.     

Herbert Kaufman

Ambition has no rest.     

Edward Bulwer-Lytton

All ambitions are lawful except those which climb upward on the miseries or credulities of mankind.     

Joseph Conrad

When you go in search of honey you must expect to be stung by bees.     

Joseph Joubert

Ambition is the way in which a vulgar man aspires.     

Henry Ward Beecher

Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions.     

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Ambition is pitiless. Any merit that it cannot use it finds despicable.     

Joseph Joubert

Ambition has one heel nailed in well, though she stretch her fingers to touch the heavens.     

William Lilly

To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition.     

Samuel Johnson

Men rise from one ambition to another. First, they seek to secure themselves against attack, and then they attack others.     

Niccolo Machiavelli

There is a loftier ambition than merely to stand high in the world. It is to stoop down and lift mankind a little higher.     

Henry Van Dyke

Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step, only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find the right road.     

Dag Hammarskjold

Ambition is the last refuge of the failure.     

Oscar Wilde

An once of hypocrisy is worth a pound of ambition.     

Michael Korda

Beauty is the sole ambition, the exclusive goal of Taste.     

Charles Baudelaire

Ambition is not a vice of little people.     

Michel de Montaigne

A man without ambition is dead. A man with ambition but no love is dead. A man with ambition and love for his blessings here on earth is ever so alive.     

Pearl Bailey

Ambition breaks the ties of blood, and forgets the obligations of gratitude.     


Though ambition in itself is a vice, it often is also the parent of virtue.     

Edgar Quinet

A man's worth is no greater than his ambitions.     

Marcus Aurelius

The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.     

Carl Sagan

Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust, like diamonds we are cut with our own dust.     

John Webster