Welcome to the World of Neverisms

In the history of human affairs, there are few activities more common than the dispensing of advice. And when offering advice, people have often stated their recommendations in a strong and forceful manner:

Always Postpone Meetings with Time-Wasting Morons

—Scott Adams, title of 1995 book

Always do what you are afraid to do.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.

—Judy Garland

When people offer unequivocal advice, they are not merely making suggestions or offering helpful hints. No, they are engaging in a much more purposeful attempt to persuade others to do, say, or think something. Such attempts at influence are perfectly captured by the term exhortation, which the American Heritage Dictionary defines this way: "To urge by strong, often stirring argument, admonition, advice, or appeal."

An exhortation is an attempt at persuasion. When we exhort, we're strongly encouraging a certain course of action and hoping that people will heed our words. But what happens when we turn an exhortation around and attempt—in an equally strong way—to discourage people from doing something?

Never dare to judge till you have heard the other side.


Never use a long word where a short one will do.

—George Orwell

Never loan your car to someone to whom you have given birth.

—Erma Bombeck

What is the proper term for strongly worded attempts to discourage people? One candidate is admonition, of course. Another is dehortation, the exact opposite of exhortation. But perhaps the best term for an emphatic piece of dissuasive advice is neverism. You won't find the term in any dictionary (at least not yet) because I coined it myself for a collection of quotable cautionary warnings that I have titled: Neverisms: A Quotation Lover's Guide to Things You Should Never Do, Never Say, or Never Forget

In the book, you will find whimsical and witty quotations intermixed with the serious and profound. The nearly 2,000 contributions come from every stage of history, and they range from Aesop, Aristotle, and Marcus Aurelius to John Wayne, Mae West, and Mark Wahlberg. The book also contains the fascinating "back stories" behind scores of classic quotations and hundreds more that have never before appeared in a quotation anthology.