Toads have often been the subject of literature, cultural myths, song lyrics, and other highly quotable sources. While they might seem like unassuming creatures, they can be central figures of inspirational, insightful, and motivational quotes written and spoken by the most impactful people.
Although we can’t hope to include every toad-related quote to ever exist, we have selected eight of the most exceptional ones and listed them here. Each bears an important message that can pertain to nearly any person. We have also provided in-depth explanations of each quote to get the most out of them and perhaps find your interpretation.
1. Get The Hard Things Out of The Way First
The general interpretation of the quote is advice from Chamfort that individuals should start their day with the task they deem most unpleasant so that they may enjoy the remainder of the day knowing this task is already complete.
This quote from the famous French writer and journalist Chamfort when a collection of his works were published in the 1790s. While the “unpleasantness” Chamfort was originally referring to was interacting with high society, it has since been adapted and altered several times over the past centuries. The most popular example being an alternative interpretation by famous author Mark Twain who stated:
“If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.”Mark Twain
Although the quote itself is nearly identical to the original by Chamfort, there are two small changes to note here. The first is that Twain has changed the amphibian of focus from a toad to a frog. The second is that Twain’s source of unpleasantness is more generally focused on the idea of procrastination than high society specifically. For this reason, most people remember the quote by Twain because it is more relatable in common society than the duties and expectations of high society.
Regardless, the quote means to get the tough things out of the way at the start of the day to enjoy the rest of your time with less stress or worry.
2. Strive to Seize Opportunities Within Misfortune
This quote originates from William Shakespeare’s play “As You Like It” and focuses on the important lesson that you can find advantages and opportunities in even the darkest and most life-altering misfortunes.
None of us are truly surprised to see William Shakespeare’s work appear on this list, even if the subject is something as unconventional as toads. Contextually, the play contains a character referred to as Duke Senior, who has been exiled to the wilderness by his younger brother Duke Frederick through a cunning coup.
Despite the adversity surrounding his situation, having been driven away from his home, companions, and position of power as a duchy, Duke Senior decides to revel in the benefits of his situation rather than wallow in self-pity.
This is an example of how the toad is present in cultural mythology as it was once believed toads bore a stone in their head that had healing properties. Therefore, Duke Senior is remarking that he is actually benefiting from his exile in nature as it is affording him new freedoms, most notably from “public haunt” or society.
It is a relatable lesson that urges readers to look on the brighter side of things and ask themselves if they have gained anything from their struggles.
3. Favour Genuine Creativity Over The Intellectual
This quote specifically speaks to Marianne Moore’s criticism of poetry driven by intellect over genuine expression. She states that the only redeemable trait of poetry is authenticity through the incorporation of imagination.
In the literary community, this is a highly famous quote by Marianne Moore found in her poem Poetry which is, ironically, about poetry and the characteristics Moore deems necessary and redeemable in any poem.
In poetry, there are two predominant ways poets tend to portray the world: intelligence and imagination. In this quote, Moore speaks on the dangers of focusing solely on the cold, intellectual interpretation of the world devoid of the genuine and authentic warmth that comes from imagination.
If one wishes to make the most effective and impactful piece that is both raw and real, then it must have a balance of both. The writers must have the ability to conjure a world within their mind like the imaginary garden and have the skills to make it appear real, like the toad.
This quote might be a little heavy for those of us who aren’t writers or poets, but it can actually speak to how the everyday person conducts their life. Moore’s quote makes a poignant point about the essential balance between reality and fancy.
While people are often guided by rational thought, passions and dreams are also essential forces that should drive them as well. They both have their place, and one should never be entirely without the other.
4. Everything Happens For a Reason
Apart from its focus on the European threat to indigenous peoples, this quote can be interpreted as remarking on human nature and how everything happens for a reason.
This quote is a proverb in Ibo culture taken from the book. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Contextually, the line is referring to the indigenous tribe being threatened and driven out of their land by Europeans, but it can also be interpreted as making a point about human observation.
Toads are naturally nocturnal animals, so Achebe uses them in this quote to demonstrate how it would be extremely odd or uncharacteristic behavior for a toad to be hopping around in daylight, and so, the only logical conclusion is that their life is being threatened.
This further drives the point that people do not act without reason, and one should be vigilant and mindful of their reasoning.
5. Vanity is a Human Emotion
In this quote by former President Woodrow Wilson, he bluntly states that there is at least an ounce of vanity in all of us that we are not ashamed of, and this vanity not only equalizes us as humans but should be embraced to some degree.
One of the most striking features of any toad is its piercing eyes. Despite these amphibians having a social reputation for being the epitome of ugliness, Wilson is contending that there is something in all of us that we find beautiful about ourselves. And while this is in itself vanity, that is not to say it is wrong.
To some, cherishing this vanity could be considered a form of self-love resulting in personal confidence that is often healthy. However, there is always the old-school argument that vanity is an example of pride and, therefore, sinful. In extremes, it can lead to egotism and inhibit selflessness.
Referring back to Wilson’s quote, though, he is explicitly claiming vanity is in all of us, and, therefore, whether you place stock in the Christian belief of sin or not, its presence makes us all equals as human beings.
6. Beauty is Subjective
Voltaire’s comment on beauty is clearly stated in his work The Philosophical Dictionary and ultimately concludes that beauty is an entirely subjective concept that is unique to every individual and species, for that matter.
As we were not surprised by Shakespeare’s presence on this list, neither were we shocked that this quote by Voltaire frequently emerged when searching for toad-related quotes.
Again, the toad has never had a societal reputation for being an overtly pretty creature, but in the eyes of another toad, the qualities that entail beauty are quite different than a human’s perspective. The phrase to kalon is a classical Greek term used by philosophers and refers to one’s ideal definition of moral and physical beauty.
Although society likes to tell us that a set of specific traits and attributes are inherently more beautiful than others (and these traits vary widely by culture), Voltaire is professing here that all that truly matters is what you deem personally as beautiful because there isn’t, or shouldn’t, be a concrete definition for this word.
7. Rank Has No Effect on The Great Equalizer Called Death
The above quote is a section of Emily Dickenson’s poem “A Toad, can die of Light” and makes the poignant but somewhat comforting point that death is the great equalizer all beings are destined for. Therefore, no being is truly above or below another regardless of their species, rank, economic status, or any other defining factor.
Like so many other great poets and writers, Dickenson had no desire to confine herself to the restraints of conventionality and had a thing or two to say about social norms, which is apparent here in this quote. As an early feminist voice, many like to assume this quote is remarking on the societal perspective of women, particularly in Dickenson’s time of the 1800s.
Women had very few rights in most nations globally at this time. In fact, the first nation to even allow women’s suffrage was New Zealand in 1893, and white U.S. women wouldn’t gain this right until 1920. Marriage-related rights were slow to change as well, leaving few women to actually own anything themselves (CTNF).
However, a few alternative points of interpretation can be that a person’s economic or political status does not raise them above those with fewer means or less power. One could also claim it is a dialogue on how humans should not ravage the earth and its resources as if we own all of nature just because we have the means to alter it. All beings and animals have the same status in life as they do in death, and we have no right to deem ourselves above it all.
In the end, this quote can be interpreted in a myriad of ways, but its overall point is that life is a privilege and death is an inevitability, so “why swagger?” when you will share the same fate as any other living creature.
8. Words Can Cut Deep
This quote implores the reader to be conscious of the things they say so as not to cause unintentional harm to others.
Although it is only a small excerpt from Neil Gaiman’s short story Fragile Things, this quote makes a strong point on how humans should interact with and speak to one another.
Gaiman pins the gleaming beauty of diamonds and roses against what people consider ‘slimy ugliness of toads and frogs.’ One could claim that the words that “tumble from one’s lips as toads and frogs” can be interpreted as something you have said that was unkind, harsh, or intentionally cruel. Like the toads and frogs, the appearance and intentions of these words are clear. However, it is not these words Gaiman is warning against.
Instead, he pays particular attention to the diamonds and roses. This might refer to something you say that is prettied up, or its true intentions are hidden behind kind words. And yet, like the cold, sharp edges of diamond or roses’ thorns, these words too can cut others, and often deeper than those spoken with clear intent.
More Frog & Toad Quotes
Check out the other articles on our blog that contain more frog and toad quotes and content: