Citations célèbres

Nous connaissons tous des citations de personnalités célèbres dans nos propres langues et cultures. Mais combien en connaissons-nous d’ailleurs dans d'autres langues ? Voici l'occasion de découvrir la sagesse, les vérités (ou demi-vérités !), la créativité, l'humour et parfois le cynisme d'un grand nombre de cultures et de langues, ainsi que leurs origines. Avez-vous une citation favorite ? Nous serions ravis que vous nous en fassiez part !

Citations célèbres

Nous connaissons tous des citations de personnalités célèbres dans nos propres langues et cultures. Mais combien en connaissons-nous d’ailleurs dans d'autres langues ? Voici l'occasion de découvrir la sagesse, les vérités (ou demi-vérités !), la créativité, l'humour et parfois le cynisme d'un grand nombre de cultures et de langues, ainsi que leurs origines. Avez-vous une citation favorite ? Nous serions ravis que vous nous en fassiez part !
104 Citation(s)
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Dün dündür, bugün bugündür. Yesterday was yesterday, today is today.

Par Sami Süleyman Gündoğdu Demirel
First said by Süleyman Demirel who served seven times as Turkey’s prime minister and became one of the most iconic political figures in Turkish political history. The quotation was announced by him in 1970’s, in order to justify his frequently changing political decisions. This quote has been used by many politicians for and against the political u-turns.


Créer, c’est vivre deux fois. To create is to live twice.

Par Albert Camus, French author


Tous pour un, un pour tous. All for one, and one for all.

Par Alexandre Dumas
It is associated with the characters of his novel The Three Musketeers (1844).


Красота спасет мир Beauty will save the world.

Par Fyodor Dostoyevsky
From his novel "The Idiot" (1869).


εὕρηκα! I have found (it)!

Par Archimedes, Greek scholar (287-212 BC)
"Eureka" comes from the Ancient Greek, which he said after he had stepped into a bath and noticed that the water level rose, whereupon he suddenly understood that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged.


Մահ ոչ իմացեալ մահ է, մահ իմացեալ՝ անմահութիւն. An unexpected death means merely dying, but a death willingly borne renders one immortal.

Par Yeghishe, Armenian historian from the time of late antiquity
This quotation comes from a rebellion in the 5th century against Persian overlordship, when the Armenians were ordered to give up Christianity and return to paganism. The quote is attributed to the chronicler of the time, Yeghishe. It characterises the rebel leader, Vartan Mamikonian, and his crew, called the Vartanank. This expression is used as a call to self-sacrifice nowadays, not necessarily couched in Christian or otherwise religious terms. It could also be quite political and military in its context.


Forgyldning forgår, men svinelæder består. Gilding perishes, but pig leather endures.

Par Hans Christian Andersen


The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.

Par Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian-British philosopher


Et qu'est-ce qu'il a voulu dire par ça? And what did he mean by that?

Par Klemens von Metternich
19th century Austrian diplomat Metternich is said to have asked of Talleyrand when he heard the French statesman had died.


Qu'ils mangent de la brioche. Let them eat cake.

Par ???
This quote is often attributed to Marie-Antoinette, the wife of Louis XVI. Where it really comes from is unknown. As early as in the 1760s, the sentence is found in the memoirs of the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau - when Marie Antoinette still lived in Vienna and was only 10 years old. Some historians attribute it to Theresa of Spain (1638-1683), the first wife of Louis XIV.


La Dolce Vita “the sweet life” /“the sweetness of life”

Par Frederico Fellini
La Dolce Vita is the title of Italian film director, Federico Fellini's, ground-breaking 1960 satire. It was, at the time, regarded as one of the most stylish movies ever made - putting Italian cinema firmly on the world stage. The film, starring Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg, made Rome THE destination to visit and made many people aspire to drive a Lambretta or a Vespa, wear exclusive fashion along with sunglasses (at night!), drink cappuccino and generally hang out on the streets, even when it was pouring with rain! One of the characters in the film, Paparazzo, provided the inspiration for the term "paparazzi" - to describe photographers making a living from their (sometimes unwanted) shots of celebrities. Not everyone was so enamoured with the film, with some condemning if for placing a spotlight on corruption, debauchery, perversion, and aimlessness among the ‘high society’.


You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.

Par Geoffrey Willans, English writer and journalist


Elk nadeel heeft zijn voordeel. Every disadvantage has its advantage.

Par Johan Cruyff, Dutch professional football player


Kunst on paratamatus. Kunst on kultuuri geen, mis iseennast taastoodab ja niiviisi kultuuri kasvatab, ainsat keskkonda, milles inimese vaim saab hingata. Art is inevitable. Art is the cultural gene that reproduces itself and thus cultivates culture, the only environment in which the human spirit can breathe.

Par Lennart Meri, former president of Estionia


Az új magyar narancs. Kicsit sárgább, kicsit savanyúbb, de a mienk. The new Hungarian orange. It´s a bit more yellow, a bit more sour, but it's ours.

Par Péter Bacsó
The sentence comes from the Péter Bacsó´s famous parody movie The Witness (1969) which is about the attempt in communist times to cultivate oranges in Hungary. As the climate is not suitable for subtropical fruits the mission failed. In the movie, a party leader visits the scientists experimenting with orange-growing and he expresses the wish to taste an orange. As the only ripe orange is accidentally eaten, he is given a lemon instead, accompanied by this quote as an explanation. “Hungarian orange” became a symbol for the gap between the sweet party propaganda and the daily sour reality of life until today.


Ükskord me võidame niikuinii! One day, no matter what, we will win!

Par Heinz Valk
This phrase refers to Estonia's struggle for independence in the late 1980's. Heinz Valk, an Estonian artist and politician, is also credited with coining the term "Singing Revolution" (in Estonian: laulev revolutsioon) - a series of non violent protest events that ultimately led to the restoration of independence of the Baltic countries from the Soviet Union.


I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.

Par Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt


Aki kíváncsi, mindig talál rejtvényeket maga körül. Aki eltökélt, meg is oldja őket. If you are curious, you'll find the puzzles around you. If you are determined, you will solve them.

Par Ernő Rubik, inventor of the Rubik’s Cube


Het gelukken is soms ’t eindresultaat van een heele serie mislukkingen. Success is sometimes the outcome of a whole string of failures.

Par Vincent Van Gogh


Jsou skvrny které nelze vyčistit bez porušení podstaty látky. There are stains that cannot be cleaned without damaging the underlying material.

Par Bohumil Hrabal, novelist


Човекот со плач иди на светов и со плач си оди од светов. The man comes to this world crying and leaves it crying.

Par Petre M. Andreevski
This is a quote by the famous Macedonian poet Petre M. Andreevski. It can be found in his novel “Pirej“. The quote has a nostalgic note, signifying the suffering that a person has during a lifetime.


Hvad vil mennesket med det evige liv, hvis det keder sig søndag eftermiddag? What does man want with eternal life if he is bored on Sunday afternoon?

Par Søren Kierkegaard


Après moi, le déluge. Ruin, if you like, when we are dead and gone.

Par King Louis XV of France
King Louis XV said ot to Madame de Pompadour. It is generally considered a nihilistic expression of indifference to whatever happens after one is gone though it may also express a more literal forecasting of ruination. The phrase refers to the biblical flood and is believed to date from after the 1757 Battle of Rossbach, which was disastrous for the French.


Evig eies kun det tapte. Only what is lost is possessed forever.

Par Henrik Ibsen


Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker. What does not kill me, makes me stronger.

Par Friedrich Nietzsche


Kein Baum, so heißt es, kann zum Himmel wachsen, wenn seine Wurzeln nicht bis zur Hölle reichen. No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.

Par Carl Gustav Jung


Wer kämpft, kann verlieren, wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren. Who fights might lose. Who doesn´t fight has lost already.

Par Bertolt Brecht


La inteligencia sin ambición es un pájaro sin alas. Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.

Par Salvador Dalí


A pesszimista olyan ember, akinek mindig igaza van, de soha sincs öröme benne. A pessimist is a person who is always right, but never takes pleasure in it.

Par Edward Teller, Hungarian-American theoretical physicist


den gleich verwerflichen missbrauch groszer buchstaben für das substantivum, der unserer pedantischen unart gipfel heißsen kann, habe ich […] abgeschüttelt. I have shaken off the equally reprehensible misuse of capital letters for the substantive, which can be called the pinnacle of our pedantic bad manners.

Par Jakob Grimm
Co-author of Grimm’s fairy tales, was not a big fan of the capitalisation of German nouns Despite his objections (this quote is from 1854) capitals have survived in German whilst disappearing in other languages. German and Luxembourgish are the only languages in the world to capitalise nouns, although it was once common practice in many Germanic languages, such as Danish, Swedish and English (the United States Constitution of 1787 is a well-known example).


Все починяют телевизоры, но никто не починяет головы, поврежденные телевизором. Everyone repairs televisions, but no one repairs the heads damaged by the TV.

Par Fazil Abdulovich Iskander, writer and poet


Auch aus Steinen, die einem in den Weg gelegt werden, kann man Schönes bauen. Even from stones placed in one's path, one can build something beautiful.

Par attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Yr hen a wŷr a'r ifanc a dybia. The old know and the young think (they know).

Par Unknown


Kaiken viisauden alku on tosiasiain tunnustaminen. The beginning of all wisdom is acknowledgement of facts.

Par Juho Kusti Paasikivi, former president of Finland


Der Ball ist rund. Das Spiel dauert 90 Minuten. The ball is round and the game lasts 90 minutes.

Par Sepp Herberger
It’s considered deceivingly simple yet complete summary of what the game of football essentially is all about. Herberger was a famous German player, manager and national team coach who won the 1954 World-cup with West Germany.


I can never wear beige because nobody will know who I am.

Par Queen Elizabeth II


A verseny lovaknak való, nem embereknek. Competitions are for horses, not artists.

Par Béla Bartók, Hungarian composer


El futuro no está escrito porque sólo el pueblo puede escribirlo. The future is not written, because only the people can write it.

Par Adolfo Suárez González, Spain's first democratically elected prime minister after the dictatorship
The statement was part of the presentation of the 1976 Political Reform, which allowed for the transition from General Franco's regime to a democratic constitutional system.


Ha nem elég jók a képeid, nem voltál elég közel. If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.

Par Robert Capa
Attributed to Robert Capa (1913-1954) who was a famous Hungarian war photographer and photo journalist. He is considered to be one of the greatest combat and adventure photographers in history.


In Deutschland ist die höchste Form der Anerkennung der Neid. In Germany the greatest form of acknowledgement is envy.

Par Arthur Schopenhauer


Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans.

Par attributed to John Lennon
Although the quote that is often attributed to John Lennon, it was actually first used in 1957 in an issue of Reader’s Digest by a man named Allen Saunders.


Zeig mir einen gesunden Menschen und ich werde ihn für dich heilen. Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.

Par Carl Gustav Jung


Den sterkeste mann i verden, det er han som står mest alene. You see, the point is that the strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.

Par Henrik Ibsen


Zwei Dinge sind unendlich, das Universum und die menschliche Dummheit, aber bei dem Universum bin ich mir noch nicht ganz sicher. Only two things are truly infinite, the Universe and human stupidity, although I'm not sure yet regarding the Universe.

Par attributed to Albert Einstein


Wer eine Jogginghose trägt, hat die Kontrolle über sein Leben verloren. Whoever wears sweatpants has lost control of his life.

Par Karl Lagerfeld, German fashion designer


Je déteste ce que vous écrivez, mais je donnerai ma vie pour que vous puissiez continuer à écrire. I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Par Voltaire


Едно е да искаш, друго е да можеш, а трето и четвърто – да го направиш. It is one thing to want something, quite another to be able to do it and rather distinct to actually do it.

Par Nikolay Haytov


Tiszteld a múltat, hogy érthesd a jelent, és munkálkodhass a jövőn. Respect the past so that you can understand the present and work on the future.

Par István Széchenyi (1791-1860), Hungarian politician, political theorist, and writer
He was a big reformer and writer whose practical enterprises represented an effort toward Hungarian national development. Many great developments can be attributed to his name, for example he introduced steam shipping on the Danube, built the first suspension bridge at Budapest and also wrote several books where he voiced Hungary’s need for economic advancement


Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.

Par Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist


There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

Par Oscar Wilde
In his book "The Picture of Dorian Gray".


Si Dieu n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him

Par Voltaire


Държава, която не строи училища и библиотеки, строи затвори. A country which builds no schools or libraries, builds prisons.

Par Rada Kazaliiska, Bulgarian poet


My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.  

Par Oscar Wilde
Said by Oscar Wilde who near the end of his life was debt-ridden and ill and his shabby accommodation in Paris did not meet with his aesthetic standards.


Un linguaggio diversa è una visione diversa della vita. A different language is a different vision of life.

Par attributed to Federico Fellini, Italian film director and screenwriter


Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral. First comes a full stomach, then comes ethics.

Par Bertolt Brecht
from the Threepenny Opera (1928)


Eteenpäin sanoi mummo lumessa. Forward, said granny, in the snow.

Par Unknown
The source is unknown, but it´s a commonly used Finish proverb meaning "keep going through difficulties with determination".


Du sublime au ridicule il n’y a qu’un pas. There is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Par Napoleon Bonaparte
Said by Napoleon to De Pradt, the French ambassador to Warsaw, after the retreat from Moscow in 1812.


Létfontosságú, hogy időnként olyan dolgot csináljunk, ami nem létfontosságú. It is vital to occasionally do something that is not vital.

Par László Mérő, Hungarian psychologist


Није ми жао што су украли моје идеје, већ што нису имали своје. I don’t care that they stole my ideas. I care that they don’t have any of their own.

Par Nikola Tesla, inventor, electrical and mechanical engineer best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.


Što ne boli – to nije život, što ne prolazi – to nije sreća. What doesn't hurt - is not life; what doesn't pass - is not happiness.

Par Ivo Andrić, Yugoslav author and diplomat, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1961.


Світ ловив мене, та не спіймав. The world tried to catch me but failed.

Par Hryhorii Skovoroda, Ukrainian philosopher


Die Politik ist die Lehre vom Möglichen. Politics is the art of the possible.

Par Otto von Bismarck


Gott würfelt nicht! God does not play dice with the universe.

Par Albert Einstein


Hvad er ungdom? En drøm. Hvad er kærlighed? Drømmens indhold. What is youth? A dream. What is love? The content of the dream.

Par Søren Kierkegaard, philosopher


Når man er tyve år har man løst verdensgåden. I trediveårsalderen begynder man at tænke over den og i fyrreårsalderen finder man den uløselig. When you're twenty, you've solved the world's riddle. At thirty you start to think about it and at forty you find it unsolvable.

Par Johan August Strindberg


I have nothing to declare but my genius!  

Par Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde was not known for his modesty! This is, reputedly, Wilde's response to an offical who asked him if he had anything to declare at a customs control in New York in 1882.


Om ett träd dör, plantera ett annat i dess ställe. If a tree dies, plant another in its place.

Par Carl Linnaeus, Swedish botanist


Egalitatea nu există decât în matematică. Equality only exists in mathematics.

Par Mihai Eminescu
Said by the famous Romanian poet Mihai Eminescu, considered to be one of the greatest figures in Romanian culture and is frequently quoted.


Който търси съвършенство, осъден е да създава само фрагмент. Those who seek perfection will never create more than fragments.

Par Atanas Dalchev


Մարդու գործն է միշտ անմահ. One's work is always immortal.

Par Hovhannes Toumanian
A line from a poem about immortality - The Capture of Fort Tmouk, published in 1902. Hovhannes Toumanian (1869-1923) is a very famous, very popular author of the turn of the 20th century, noted for his short stories, children's stories, and poems. This is a general expression of how good deeds live on. Or just deeds - that is, if one does something bad, that too can have long-term consequences.


Naar vi læse gamle Historier, støde vi os over Forfædrenes Skikke og Maneerer: Og, naar vore Efterkommere igien læse disse Tiders Historier, ville de maaskee finde ligesaa stor Materie til Latter. When we read old histories, we are struck by the customs and manners of our ancestors: And, when our descendants read the histories of our own times, they may as well find quite as much matter for laughter.

Par Ludvig Holberg (1684 – 1754), Danish writer, essayist, philosopher and historian


Uma língua é o lugar donde se vê o Mundo e em que se traçam os limites do nosso pensar e sentir. A language is the place from where we see the world and where we draw the limits of our thinking and feeling.

Par Vergílio Ferreira
a Portuguese writer, and a key figure in Portuguese-language literature


Αγάλι αγάλι γίνεται η αγουρίδα μέλι. Slowly, slowly the sour grape becomes honey.

Par Unknown, Greek proverb
All things require a great deal of time to mature, be they people or situations. Patience is a virtue.


Jew b’xejn jew xejn! Free schooling or none at all!

Par Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, Prime Minister of Malta (1982 – 1987)
In 1983, it was used as a political slogan by the Malta Labour Party government during its confrontation with the Maltese Curia, over its demand for free tuition at Church schools.


Penge ødelægger næsten alt – og manglen på penge resten. Money ruins almost everything - and the lack of money the rest.

Par Hans Bendix


Phantasie ist wichtiger als Wissen, denn Wissen ist begrenzt. Fantasy is more important than knowledge, because knowledge is limited.

Par Albert Einstein


Čudno je kako je malo potrebno da budemo sretni, i još čudnije: kako nam često baš to malo nedostaje. It is strange how little it takes to be happy, and even stranger how often just that little bit is missing.

Par Ivo Andrić


Buďte na lidi hodní, nebo vám nepůjdou na pohřeb. Be nice to people, or they won't come to your funeral.

Par Bohumil Hrabal. novelist


Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I'm possible.

Par Audrey Hepburn, actress and humanitarian


Pravda a láska musí zvítězit nad lží a nenávistí. Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred.

Par Václav Havel
Spoken by Václav Havel to the crowd on Wenceslas Square in Prague, 10 December 1989, amid the “Velvet Revolution”. On 29 December he was elected president of what was still officially known as the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.


Eenzaam maar niet alleen. Lonely but not alone.

Par Queen Wilhelmina
It´s the title of her book published in 1959. Queen Wilhemina (1880-1962) reigned for an amazing 50 years (1898-1948). Sadly in her personal life she was married to a prince of ill-repute and she never received any love. So when she wrote her biography in the fifties, she gave it the sad title ‘Eenzaam maar niet alleen’.


Alles gerettet Majestät! All is saved your Majesty!

Par the Chief of police to Kaiser Franz Joseph of Austria
This initial assessment of the outcome of a fire in Vienna's Ringtheater turned out to have been overly optimitisic. A keen- to-please chief of police reputedly issued this report to Austria's emperor Franz Joseph, after the outbreak of the fire in December 1881. In fact, the Ringtheater was burned to the ground and 386 opera-goers to Hoffmanns Erzählungen tragically died as a result. The quote is now used to show-up 'half-truths' designed entirely to please the target audience, rather than to convey reality.


Il existe une beauté particulière qui naît dans le langage, du langage et pour le langage. A special kind of beauty exists which is born in language, of language, and for language.

Par Gaston Bachelard, French philosopher


Chentu concas, chentu berrittas. One hundred heads, one hundred hats.

Par Unknown.
It's a famous sentence used to indicate a group who are not very united because everyone brings their own ideas without caring about those of others. "Berrita" refers to a traditional hat worn throughout Sardinia until the end of 19th century. There are many versions of this sentence in languages spoken on Sardinia and Corsica.


Wer Visionen hat, soll zum Arzt gehen. Those who have visions should go and see a doctor..

Par Helmut Schmidt, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (1974–1982)


Nade vším vítězí pravda. Truth conquers all.

Par Jan Hus, Catholic reformer and scholar


Tvrd je orah voćka čudnovata, ne slomi ga, al’ zube polomi. A hard nut is a strange fruit, you won't break it, but you'll break your teeth.

Par Petar II Petrović-Njegoš
This is a line from his epic poem "The Mountain Wreath" and is part of a reply to a vizier Selim who requested unconditional surrender from "tiny" Montenegro which he insulted for being small. The response is saying that although Montenegro is tiny, it will be a tough nut to crack if Ottomans try to conquer it. Nowadays, it means one should not underestimate others, no matter how small/weak they seem.


Je n'ai fait celle-ci plus longue parce que je n'ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte. I have made this letter longer than usual, because I lack the time to make it short.

Par Blaise Pascal
In his Lettres Provinciales (1656-1657). What he was saying, of course, is that it's easy to ramble on, it takes effort to be succinct.


Muss es sein? Es muss sein! Must it be? It must be!

Par Ludwig van Beethoven
These are the words that he wrote in the epigraph of the score of his 16th string quartet, Op. 135, in F major.


C’est pire qu’un crime, c’est une faute. It was worse than a crime, it was a blunder.

Par Antoine Jacques Claude Joseph, comte Boulay de la Meurthe, French Politician
Reaction to the 1804 drumhead trial and execution of Louis Antoine de Bourbon, Duke of Enghien, on orders of Napoleon.


Se non è vero, è ben trovato. Even if it is not true, it is a good story.

Par Giordano Bruno


Honi soit qui mal y pense. Evil to him who evil thinks.

Par Edward III of England, Monarch of England
It´s the motto of the British Order of the Garter originated by Edward 3rd (in 1348 or 1349).


Toliko je bilo u životu stvari kojih smo se bojali. A nije trebalo. Trebalo je živjeti. There were so many things in life we were afraid of. But we shouldn't have been afraid. We should have lived.

Par Ivo Andrić


Sotsiaalse ebavõrdsuse kahandamise kõige tõhusam viis on haridusse investeerimine. The best way to reduce social inequality is to invest into education.

Par Lennart Meri, former president of Estonia


Все счастливые семьи похожи друг на друга, каждая несчастливая семья несчастлива по-своему.” Все счастливые семьи похожи друг на друга, каждая несчастливая семья несчастлива по-своему. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Par Leo Tolstoy
From his novel "Anna Karenina" (1878).


Livet forstås baglæns, men må leves forlæns. Life can only be understood by looking backward; but it must be lived looking forward.

Par Søren Kierkegaard


Если против какой нибудь болезни предлагается очень много средств, то это значит, что болезнь неизлечима. When a lot of remedies are suggested for a disease, that means it can't be cured.

Par Anton Chekhov
From his play "The Cherry Orchard" (1904).


Allt är relativt, även åldern. Everything is relative, including age.

Par Johan August Strindberg


Kõikjal räägitakse kommunismi surmast, aga keegi ei ole veel näinud kommunismi laipa. The death of communism is being proclaimed from the rooftops, but no one has yet seen a corpse.

Par Lennart Meri, former president of Estonia


Endlich fortissimo! At last, fortissimo!

Par Gustav Mahler, 19th Century Austrian compose
He said it while visiting Niagara Falls and referring to the loud rush of the water as a ‘fortissimo’ -which is a music passage marked to be played very loudly.


Gud skabte manden før kvinden. Det er ligesom, når jeg skriver. Først laver jeg en kladde. God created man before woman. It's like when I write. First I make a draft.

Par Karen Blixen, author


Vindt maar mooi zooveel je kunt, de meesten vinden niet genoeg mooi. Find things beautiful as much as you can, most people find too little beautiful.

Par Vincent Van Gogh


L'homme est né libre et partout il est dans les fers. Man was born free, and everywhere he is in chains.

Par Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Opening sentence of the first chapter of his book "The Social Contract".


De best stuurlui staan aan wal. The best helmsman stands ashore.

Par Unknown
The origin is unknown but it is common already by the 17th century. It implies that those seeing a ship in a storm from the shore think they can better determine how the ship should be steered while in reality they would most likely panic in that situation themselves. It is used to indicate that it is easy to criticise other´s work, when one is merely watching from the sidelines.