These Sherlock Holmes quotes are, um, elementary in a way.
These are some of the most popular expressions and thoughts the sly detective ever uttered. In most cases, “me dear Watson,” was Holmes’ audience, but not always.
A read-through of this collection will undoubtedly give you a sense of how the logical sleuth solved his cases. Enjoy.
Ten Best Sherlock Holmes Quotes
1.) Elementary (my dear Watson). Note: While it’s true Holmes said “Elementary” and “my dear Watson” numerous times in stories and novels, he never really used them together as we think.
2.) Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons, with the greatest for the last.
3.) I never make exceptions. An exception disproves the rule.
4.) What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence. The question is what can you make people believe you have done?
5.) It is stupidity rather than courage to refuse to recognize danger when it is close upon you.
6.) There are fifty who can reason synthetically for one who can reason analytically.
7.) There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.
8.) To let the brain work without sufficient material is like racing an engine. It racks itself to pieces.
9.) It is a mistake to confound strangeness with mystery.
10.) It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.
Interesting Sherlock Holmes Quotes
Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another.
Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.
Man, or at least criminal man, has lost all enterprise and originality. As to my own little practice, it seems to be degenerating into an agency for recovering lost lead pencils and giving advice to young ladies from boarding schools.
Now is the dramatic moment of fate, Watson. When you hear a step upon the stair which is walking into your life, and you know not whether for good or ill.
A man always finds it hard to realize that he may have finally lost a woman’s love, however badly he may have treated her.
I know, my dear Watson, that you share my love of all that is bizarre and outside the conventions and humdrum routine of daily life.
Nothing could exceed his (Holmes’) energy when the working fit was upon him; but now and again a reaction would seize him, and for days on end he would lie upon the sofa in the sitting room, hardly uttering a word or moving a muscle from morning to night.
I ought to know by this time that when a fact appears to be opposed to a long train of deductions it invariably proves to be capable of bearing some other interpretation.
It’s a wicked world, and when a clever man turns his brain to crime, it is the worst of all.
Funny Quotes by Sherlock Holmes
I’m not a psychopath, Anderson, I’m a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research.
You have a grand gift for silence, Watson. It makes you quite invaluable as a companion.
Watson. Come at once if convenient. If inconvenient, come all the same.
I am somewhat exhausted; I wonder how a battery feels when it pours electricity into a non-conductor.
Dear God. What is it like in your funny little brains? It must be so boring.
My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people do not know.
I wanted to end the world, but I’ll settle for ending yours.
Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell.
Watson: “We should call the police.”
Holmes: *Fires gun shots* “Yes….on their way!”
Watson: “For god sake!”
Holmes: “Oh shut up, it’s quick.”
I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendix.
The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime; the dog did nothing in the nighttime. That was the curious incident.
“Excellent!” I cried. “Elementary,” said he.
“It’s quite exciting,” said Sherlock Holmes, with a yawn.
I am afraid, my dear Watson, that most of your conclusions were erroneous. When I said that you stimulated me I meant, to be frank, that in noting your fallacies I was occasionally guided towards the truth.
Short Sherlock Holmes Quotes
It is the unofficial force—the Baker Street irregulars.
To Sherlock Holmes, she is always the woman.
Your life is not your own. Keep your hands off it.
The devil’s due a soul, I’d say.
The fair sex is your department.
There is nothing new under the sun. It has all been done before.
The past and the present are within my field of inquiry.
Where there is no imagination, there is no horror.
I am the last and highest court of appeal in detection.
It is not my intention to be fulsome, but I confess that I covet your skull.
I am lost without my Boswell.
Nothing clears up a case so much as stating it to another person.
Never have I seen a man run as Holmes ran that night.
The game is afoot.
I am not the law, but I represent justice so far as my feeble powers go.
Any truth is better than indefinite doubt.
What one man can invent, another can discover.
For an instant, he sat in silent amazement. Then he burst into a hearty laugh.
I am the most incurably lazy devil that ever stood in shoe leather.
Of all ruins, that of a noble mind is the most deplorable.
Work is the best antidote of sorrow, my dear Watson.
Data! Data! I can’t make bricks without clay.
To a great mind, nothing is little.
The emotional qualities are antagonistic to clear reasoning.
There is nothing like first-hand evidence.
I presume nothing.
I never guess. It is a shocking habit, destructive to the logical faculty.
You know my method. It is founded upon the observation of trifles.
You see, but you do not observe.
Logical Sherlock Holmes Quotes
No man burdens his mind with small matters unless he has some very good reason for doing so.
I think that there are certain crimes that the law cannot touch, and which, therefore, to some extent, justify private revenge.
You know a conjurer gets no credit when once he has explained his trick.
There is nothing so unnatural as the commonplace.
Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.
As Cuvier could correctly describe a whole animal by the contemplation of a single bone, so the observer who has thoroughly understood one link in a series of incidents should be able to accurately state all the other ones, both before and after.
I am glad of all details, whether they seem to you to be relevant or not.
I must apologize for calling so late and I must further beg you to be so unconventional as to allow me to leave your house presently by scrambling over your back garden wall.
That is the case as it appears to the police, and improbable as it is, all other explanations are more improbable still.
Famous Sherlock Holmes Sayings
A good detective knows that every task, every interaction, no matter how seemingly banal, has the potential to contain multitudes.
How small we feel with our petty ambitions and strivings in the presence of the great elemental forces of Nature!
His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge.
As a rule, the more bizarre a thing is the less mysterious it proves to be.
My dear Watson, you were born to be a man of action. Your instinct is always to do something energetic.
My mind is like a racing engine, tearing itself to pieces because it is not connected up with the work for which it was built.
The more outré and grotesque an incident is the more carefully it deserves to be examined.
While the individual man is an insoluble puzzle, in the aggregate he becomes a mathematical certainty.
On the contrary, Watson, you can see everything. You fail, however, to reason from what you see. You are too timid in drawing your inferences.
I have taken to living by my wits.
My horror at his crimes was lost in my admiration at his skill.
Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another.
Good Sherlock Holmes Quotations
A man should keep his little brain attic stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use, and the rest he can put away in the lumber room of his library where he can get it if he wants.
So silent and furtive were his movements, like those of a trained bloodhound picking out a scent, that I could not but think what a terrible criminal he would have made had he turned his energy and sagacity against the law instead of exerting them in its defence.
When a doctor does go wrong, he is the first of criminals. He has the nerve and he has the knowledge.
I listen to their story, they listen to my comments, and then I pocket my fee.
He possesses two out of the three qualities necessary for the ideal detective. He has the power of observation and that of deduction. (And) He is only wanting in knowledge.
Having gathered these facts, Watson, I smoked several pipes over them, trying to separate those which were crucial from others which were merely incidental.
It is quite a three-pipe problem, and I beg that you won’t speak to me for fifty minutes.
I think that you know me well enough, Watson, to understand that I am by no means a nervous man. At the same time, it is stupidity rather than courage to refuse to recognize danger when it is close upon you.
It is, of course, a trifle, but there is nothing so important as trifles.
Baker Street Insights
No: I am not tired. I have a curious constitution. (And) I never remember feeling tired by work, though idleness exhausts me completely.
My business is that of every other good citizen – to uphold the law.
I could not rest, Watson, I could not sit quiet in my chair, if I thought that such a man as Professor Moriarty were walking the streets of London unchallenged.
I cannot live without brain work. What else is there to live for?
It’s every man’s business to see justice done.
It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.
My mind rebels at stagnation, give me problems, give me work!
We go around the sun! If we went around the moon or round and round the garden like a teddy bear, it wouldn’t make any difference! All that matters to me is the work! Without that, my brain rots. Put that in your blog — or better still, stop inflicting your opinions on the world!
Genius Sherlock Holmes Quotes
When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.
They say that genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains. It’s a very bad definition, but it does apply to detective work.
I confess that I have been blind as a mole, but it is better to learn wisdom late than never to learn it at all.
It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but that you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it.
It was easier to know it than to explain why I know it.
Before turning to those moral and mental aspects of the matter which present the greatest difficulties, let the inquirer begin by mastering more elementary problems.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Wit
I’ve always assumed that love is a dangerous disadvantage. Thank you for the final proof.
The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.
There is nothing more stimulating than a case where everything goes against you.
What object is served by this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must tend to some end, or else our universe is ruled by chance, which is unthinkable.
My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence.
Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.
He (Sherlock) burst into one of his rare fits of laughter as he turned away from the picture. I have not heard him laugh often, and it has always boded ill to somebody.
Do you know, Watson, that it is one of the curses of a mind with a turn like mine that I must look at everything with reference to my own special subject. You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of their isolation and of the impunity with which crime may be committed there.
When I glanced again, his face had resumed that red-Indian composure, which had made so many regard him as a machine rather than a man.
It was difficult to refuse any of Sherlock Holmes’s requests, for they were always so exceedingly definite, and put forward with such a quiet air of mastery.
Sherlock Holmes Quotes about London
Under such circumstances, I naturally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained.
When lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.
If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outre results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.
I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free as air — or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will permit a man to be.
Holmes loved to lie in the very centre of five million of people, with his filaments stretching out and running through them, responsive to every little rumor or suspicion of unsolved crime.
How sweet the morning air is! See how that one little cloud floats like a pink feather from some gigantic flamingo. Now the red rim of the sun pushes itself over the London cloud bank.
Holmes took his revolver from his drawer and slipped it in his pocket. It was clear that he thought that our night’s work might be a serious one.
‘Then let me have the private ones.’ He leaned back, put his fingertips together, and assumed his most impassive and judicial expression.
Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive of things which are really mere commonplaces of existence.
There is nothing more to be said or to be done tonight, so hand me over my violin and let us try to forget for half an hour the miserable weather and the still more miserable ways of our fellowmen.
I must thank you for calling my attention to a case which certainly presents some features of interest. I had observed some newspaper comment at the time, but I was exceedingly preoccupied by that little affair of the Vatican cameos, and in my anxiety to oblige the Pope, I lost touch with several interesting English cases.
Crime is commonplace, existence is commonplace, and no qualities save those which are commonplace have any function upon earth.
I cannot agree with those who rank modesty among the virtues. To the logician, all things should be seen exactly as they are, and to underestimate one’s self is as much a departure from truth as to exaggerate one’s own powers.
Never trust general impressions, my boy, but concentrate yourself upon details.
Watson here will tell you that I never can resist a touch of the dramatic.
Notable Sherlock Holmes Lingo
Here, we’ve combined a commonly used word by the detective along with Sherlock Holmes quotes
Afoot: Something is about to happen. Sherlock said, “The game is afoot.”
Deduce: To arrive at something by reasoning. Holmes said, “I don’t guess. I observe, and once I’ve observed, I deduce.”
Elementary: The most basic aspects of a subject. Holmes exclaimed, “Elementary,” said he.
Inconvenience: Causing difficulty or trouble. Holmes once said, “Come at once if convenient. If inconvenient, come all the same.”
Mediocrity: Not standing out from the crowd – being average. Holmes once said, “Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.”
Stagnation: Being still. Doyle wrote, “My mind rebels at stagnation – give me problems, give me work.
Theorize: To form a theory on a subject. Holmes said, “It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment.”
Trivial: Of little use or importance. Holmes said, “I am ready to look into any new problem, however trivial it may prove.”
Sherlock Holmes FAQs
Here are some frequently asked questions about Sherlock Holmes.
Sherlock Holmes lived at 221B Baker Street in London, England. Sherlock lived with Dr. John Watson. Per Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books and stories, Holmes lived there from 1881 to 1904.
Sherlock Holmes is closely associated with a deerstalker hat. This type of hat is associated with rural areas and hunting (especially deer hunting).
Most of the Sherlock Holmes stories are narratives told by Dr. Watson. Dr. John H. Watson is a physician, associate, and loyal friend of Holmes.
Professor James Moriarty is the nemesis of Sherlock Holmes in many detective novels and stories. Ultimately, master criminal Moriarty kills Holmes and ends the detective stories.
Most fans agree that The Hound of the Baskervilles is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s best, with The Sign of Four and A Study in Scarlet capturing the second best and third best novels.
By Mike O’Halloran
Mike, the founder of Greeting Card Poet, studied the complete works of Sherlock Holmes at the University of St. Thomas.
You are on our Best Sherlock Holmes Quotes page.
You might like: