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photo: Emily Post reclining on a daybed laughing while talking on the phone

Here are some of The Emily Post Institute’s favorite quotations from Emily Post herself.


  • “A sensitive awareness to the needs of others.”
  • “Manners are made up of trivialities of deportment which can be easily learned if one does not happen to know them.”
  • “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”
  • “Manner is personality—the outward manifestation of one’s innate character and attitude toward life.”
  • “Manners are like primary colors, there are certain rules and once you have these you merely mix, i.e., adapt, them to meet changing situations.”


  • “Nothing is less important than which fork you use. Etiquette is the science of living. It embraces everything. It is ethics. It is honor.”
  • "Etiquette must if it is to be of more than trifling use, include ethics as well as manners."
  • "Whenever two people come together and their behavior affects one another, you have etiquette."
  • "Etiquette is not a rigid code of manners. It is simply how persons' lives touch one another."

Being a lady:

  • “The attributes of a great lady may still be found in the rule of the four S’s: Sincerity, Simplicity, Sympathy, and Serenity.”

Interacting with others:

  • “Ideal conversation must be an exchange of thought, and not, as many of those who worry about their shortcomings believe, an eloquent exhibition of wit or oratory.”
  • “Unconsciousness of self is not so much unselfishness as it is the mental ability to extinguish all thought of one’s self—exactly as one turns out the light.”
  • “A little praise is not only merest justice but is beyond the purse of no one.”
  • "As a possession for either woman or man, a ready smile is more valuable in life than a ready wit; the latter may sometimes bring enemies, but the former always brings friends." Etiquette, 1922
  • "Many things are of interest when briefly told and for the first time; nothing interests when too long dwelt upon."
  • "Slang to be acceptable must be fresh and applicable or it is unappetizing as a left-over buckwheat cake."
  • "Only the very small mind hesitates to say, “I don’t know."


  • “Any child can be taught to be beautifully behaved with no effort greater than quiet patience and perseverance, whereas to break bad habits once they are acquired is a Herculean task.”

Being a host or guest:

  • “The good guest is almost invisible, enjoying him or herself, communing with fellow guests, and, most of all, enjoying the generous hospitality of the hosts.”
  • "The endeavor of a hostess, when seating her table, is to put those together who are likely to be interesting to each other."  Etiquette, 1922


  • “The letter we all love to receive is one that carries so much of the writer’s personality that she seems to be sitting beside us, looking at us directly and talking just as she really would, could she have come on a magic carpet, instead of sending her proxy in ink-made characters on mere paper.

On Etiquette from other sources

  • "It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folks that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love." Gandolf, Long long ago...