Best Quotes of the Century

The first decade of the 21st Century was a dynamic, traumatic time of cultural, political and social change. The year 2000 approached amid fears of massive computer meltdowns and Armageddon.

The world however, did not come to an end, and not only did computers continue to function, they continued to transform our lives. But in times of great change, new and creative uses of language seem to flourish. 

From pop culture to politics, memorable quotes were uttered and new phrases were coined, from the ironic to the iconic. So here, in no particular order, are some of the best quotes of the 21st Century, many of which sprang from worlds of film and television.

“Yer a wizard, Harry!” — Hagrid to Harry Potter

“I wish I knew how to quit you.” — Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) in Brokeback Mountain

“My precioussss…” — Gollum in Lord of the Rings

“He’s just not that into you.” — Jack Berger (Ron Livingston) on Sex and the City

“They’re called boobs, Ed.” — Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich

I’m dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It’s the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they’re going to do something incredibly… stupid.” — Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in Pirates of the Caribbean

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow

Do I really look like a guy with a plan?” — The Joker (Heath Ledger) in The Dark Knight

“Are you not entertained?” — Maximus (Russell Crowe) in Gladiator

“French people eat French food every day!”  — Julia Child (Meryl Streep) in Julie & Julia

“Sweet!” — Jon Heder as Napoleon Dynamite

Reality bites

The new Century was not good to those who once wrote for scripted television shows, as the reality TV craze swept through the industry like a Malibu wildfire. The characters are allegedly “real people,” and the dialogue is supposedly “un-scripted,” but reality TV seems to be driven by the lust to create the next water cooler catch-phrase.

“This… is American Idol!” — Ryan Seacrest of American Idol

“Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish? I know it’s tuna, but it says ‘Chicken by the Sea.’” — Jessica Simpson on Newlyweds

“Fierce!” — Christian Siriano of Project Runway

“Prostitution whore!” — Teresa Giudice in the table-flipping finale of The Real Housewives of New Jersey

Teresa Guidice flips a table

Some reality show stars are veritable catch-phrase machines:

Whitney Houston of Being Bobby Brown:

“Crack is whack.” 

“Hell to the no!” 

“Bobbbaaaayyy!” 

Rachel Zoe of The Rachel Zoe Project:

“I die!”

“That is bananas!”

“You are shutting it down!”

The phrases you least want to hear as a reality show contestant:

“The tribe has spoken.” — Jeff Probst on Survivor

“You’re out.” — Heidi Klum on Project Runway

“You’re fired.” — Donald Trump on The Apprentice

“It’s time to lip-synch for your life!” — RuPaul on RuPaul’s Drag Race

“You are the Weakest Link. Goodbye.” — Anne Robinson on The Weakest Link

The phrase you least want to see online:

“You have been tagged in a photo.” — Facebook

“Oh no you di’uhn!”

In the era of cell phones, Twitter and YouTube, no comment is off the record.

“You said something I didn’t say. Now shove it.” — Teresa Heinz Kerry, to a reporter she claimed misquoted her.

“We’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.” — Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks on the eve of the Iraq War,  triggering protests and boycotts of the group’s music.

“Shut the f**k up!” — Barbra Streisand to a pro-Bush concert heckler.

Barbra tells 'em off

“Go f**k yourself.” — Vice President Dick Cheney to Sen. Patrick Leahy on the Senate floor.

“He’s a jackass.” — Barack Obama on Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance of her VMA Award.

Beauty queen wisdom

The one great pitfall of beauty pageants is that they occasionally let the contestants speak:

“We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage and, you know what, in my country and my family I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anyone out there but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think it should be between a man and a woman.”  — Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean

Miss Teen USA contestant Aimee Teegarden of South Carolina was asked: “Recent polls have shown that a fifth of Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think that is?” Her reply:

“I personally believe, that U.S. Americans, are unable to do so, because uh, some, people out there, in our nation don’t have maps. and uh… I believe that our education like such as in South Africa, and the Iraq, everywhere like such as… and, I believe they should uh, our education over here, in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa, and should help the Iraq and Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for us.” 

Foreign policy expert Miss South Carolina

Even former beauty contestants had trouble expressing themselves:

“They are also building schools for the Afghan children so that there is hope and opportunity in our neighboring country of Afghanistan.” — Sarah Palin

“As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where– where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border.” — Sarah Palin, explaining why Alaska’s proximity to Russia gives her foreign policy experience

“I can see Russia from my house!” — Tina Fey as Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live

Political theatre

The lines between politics, news and entertainment didn’t blur this decade, they disappeared.

“Just tell them that their wildest dreams will come true if they vote for you.” — Jon Heder as Napoleon Dynamite

“Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America. Right now, you’re helping the politicians and the corporations. You’re part of their strategies. You are partisan, what do you call it, hacks.” — John Stewart to Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala on Crossfire.

“I have a wide stance.” — Sen. Larry Craig, after being arrested for soliciting an undercover policeman in a men’s bathroom stall.

“My Social Security number is 8.” — John McCain

“Stand up, Chuck, let ’em see ya.” — Joe Biden, to Missouri state Sen. Chuck Graham, who is in a wheelchair.

“Yes we can!” — Barack Obama

Most dubious phrases of the Century:

“Hanging chads” 

“Weapons of mass destruction”

“Shock and awe”

“Mission accomplished” 

“Patriot Act” 

“Swiftboating”

“Teabaggers”

“Stimulus package”

George W. Bush contributed so many memorable quotes to the new Century that they inspired a new word — “Bushisms:”

Dubya

“I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family.”

“I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.”

“Too many OB-GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across this country.” 

“They misunderestimated me.”

“Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?”

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

“Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

Pop goes the culture

Some song titles and lyrics simply said it all:

“Oops!…I Did It Again” — Britney Spears

“They try to make me go to rehab and I say ‘no, no, no…!’” — Amy Winehouse

“Don’tcha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?” — Pussycat Dolls

“I kissed a girl and I liked it.” — Katy Perry

“The Internet is For Porn” — Broadway’s puppet musical Avenue Q

Best catch-phrases — and new words — of the Century:

“Wardrobe malfunction” (Justin Timberlake’s description of Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl boob-flash)

Janet and Justin

“That’s hot” — Paris Hilton

“D-List” (noun or adjective: thank you Kathy Griffin)

“Hot mess” (Someone or something that is such a mess that it’s beyond pathetic)

“I’m just sayin…”

“Hella”  (is the new “Super”)

“Ginormous” (gigantic meets enormous)

“Ridonkulous” (beyond ridiculous)

“Bromance” (a non-sexual love affair between two straight males)

“Texting” (you must know this one by now)

“Sexting” (texting of a sexual nature)

“Fist bump” (the new high five; do not attempt while running for President)

Obama fist bump

“Cougar” (an older woman on the prowl for a much younger man)

“Staycation” (we don’t have enough money to take a real vacation)

And one of my own:

“Verbing:” The art of transforming what was formerly a noun, such as the word party (a festive gathering) into a verb (“I party,” “She parties,” “Let’s party!”). Several nouns have already been verbed this Century, including:

“Google” (former noun) A popular online search engine; (now a verb) To investigate a person, place or thing by using Google: “I Googled you.”

“Twitter” (former noun) A social networking website; (now a verb) To send messages of either an urgent or trivial nature to thousands of people: “I Twittered that I was having my car washed” (see “Tweet”)

“Friend” (former noun) A person for whom one feels affection; (now a verb) To add someone whom you either know, or don’t know, as a social contact on Facebook: “I just friended an 18 year old girl from Malaysia.”

Although it’s technically been just a decade, I’m sure that I’ve left out some of the best quotes and phrases of the Century. What were some of your favorites?

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8 Responses to “Best Quotes of the Century”

  1. Jingle Says:

    rich, and humorous quotes, very impressive blog.

  2. scarlett hepworth Says:

    My favorite newly-verbed noun is “gift.” You now can “gift” people presents, instead of just giving them gifts. And, Adam, someone MUST have put you wise to the FAMOUS Calvin and Hobbes cartoon from back in the ’90s. Calvin says ” I love to verb nouns. Verbing weirds language.” It was on our fridge for many years my kids were growing up. I have it around here somewhere. I’ll see if I can get a copy to you. Don’t hold your breath.

  3. rene Says:

    damn, thats a real list! Word.
    i wanna flip a tale

  4. ibanez guitar Says:

    Thanks that was a interesting article!

  5. Andrew Pelt Says:

    Great Article! Thanks!

  6. Johnny Peepers Says:

    Sweet list. I forgot how chock-full of interesting nuggets the last decade had in store for us. Thank you for cataloging this incredible period of human achievement.

  7. Val Leng Says:

    Lovely! I always like your posts and this one is simply cool! You have done a fantastic effort and I wish your blog will reach the topmost rankings soon! We are always with you bro!

  8. Palmira Delce Says:

    Your website is great. I m gonna read more, ty for info. Continue working on it.

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