15 Cheeky Roald Dahl Quotes

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Sarah Ullery

Staff Writer

Sarah suffers from chronic sarcasm, and an unhealthy aversion to noise. She loves to read, and would like to do nothing else, but stupid real life makes her go to work. She lives in the middle of a cornfield and shares a house with two spoiled dogs and a ton of books.

When I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to my four-year-old niece, she insisted that we eat chocolate every time we sat down to read a chapter. It was Girl Scout cookie season, so we ended up buying two boxes of Thin Mint cookies, which lasted through the book. She’s eight now, but the correlation between reading Roald Dahl and eating chocolate hasn’t diminished, so anytime I bring up reading one of his books, it’s assumed that chocolate will be involved. We’re like Pavlov’s dog. We hear the name Dahl, and we start to drool.

Roald Dahl’s innate understanding of children, their behavior, and humor, has turned his books into enduring classics. Almost everyone has read a Dahl book at some point in their life, and everyone has a different opinion about which one is the best. I love Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because I read it to my very young niece, and we ate a lot of chocolate. But I could have easily said Matilda, because when I was young I was convinced that I could make things move with my eyes if I read enough. Or I could have said Charlie and the Glass Elevator, because I read that before Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I’ve also listened to the entire Roald Dahl collection on audio, and every story was delightful, but I especially loved Fantastic Mr. Fox, which was read by Chris O’Dowd (The IT Crowd).

No matter your favorite, Roald Dahl is a wizard of wizards—so grab some chocolate, a cup of tea, and enjoy reading some of Roald Dahl’s cheekiest quotes from some of his best children’s stories.

Roald Dahl Quotes On Humanity

from the BFG

“Giants isn’t eating each other either, the BFG said. Nor is giants killing each other. Giants is not very lovely, but they is not killing each other. Nor is crockadowndillies killing other crockadowndillies. Nor is pussy-cats killing pussy-cats.

‘They kill mice,’ Sophie said.

‘Ah, but they is not killing their own kind,’ the BFG said. ‘Human beans is the only animals that is killing their own kind.'”

Roald Dahl Quotes On cannibalism

from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:

“Everything in this room is edible. Even I’m edible. But, that would be called cannibalism. It is looked down upon in most societies.” 

P.S. Want to learn some fascinating information about cannibalism? Try Cannibalism: A Perfect Natural History by Bill Schutt.

On Teaching

from Matilda:

“You ignorant little slug!” the Trunchbull bellowed. “You witless weed! You empty-headed hamster! You stupid glob of glue!” 

On Growing a Beard

from The Twits:

“So what I want to know is this. How often do all these hairy-faced men wash their faces? It is only once a week, like us, on Sunday nights? And do they shampoo it? Do they use a hair-dryer? Do they rub hair-tonic in to stop their faces from going bald? Do they go to a barber to have their hairy faces cut and trimmed or do they do it themselves in front of the bathroom mirror with nail-scissors?” 

On Perfection

from Fantastic Mr. Fox:

“I think I have this thing where everybody has to think I’m the greatest. And if they aren’t completely knocked out and dazzled and slightly intimidated by me, I don’t feel good about myself.” 

On childish habits

from George’s Marvelous Medicine:

“You know what’s the matter with you?’ the old woman said, staring over the rim of the teacup with those bright wicked little eyes. ‘You’re growing up too fast. Boys who grow too fast become stupid and lazy.’

‘But I can’t help it if I’m growing fast, Grandma.’ George said.

‘Of course you can,’ she snapped. ‘Growing’s a nasty, childish habit.'” 

from Charlie and the Glass Elevator:

“What if they come after us?” said Mr. Bucket, speaking for the first time.

“What if they capture us?” said Mrs. Bucket.

“What if they shoot us?” said Grandma Georgina.

“What if my beard were made of green spinach?” cried Mr. Wonka. “Bunkum and tummyrot! You’ll never get anywhere if you go about what-iffing like that. Would Columbus have discovered America if he’d said ‘What if I sink on the way over? What if I meet pirates? What if I never come back?’ He wouldn’t even have started!” 

Roald Dahl Quotes On Parenting

From Matilda:

“It’s a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful.” 

On Spoiling Children

From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:

“Is she the only one at fault? For though she’s spoiled, and dreadfully so, A girl can’t spoil herself, you know. Who spoiled her, then? Ah, who indeed? Who pandered to her every need? Who turned her into such a brat? Who are the culprits? Who did that? Alas! You needn’t look so far To find out who these sinners are. They are (and this is very sad) Her loving parents, MUM and DAD. And that is why we’re glad they fell Into the garbage chute as well.”

On teachers

from The Witches:

“She might even be your lovely school-teacher who is reading these words to you at this very moment. Look carefully at that teacher. Perhaps she is smiling at the absurdity of such a suggestion. Don’t let that put you off. It could be part of cleverness.

I am not, of course, telling you for one second that your teacher actually is a witch. All I am saying is that she might be one. It is most unlikely. But—here comes the big “but”—not impossible.” 

On Advice

from Fantastic Mr. Fox:

“I understand what you’re saying, and your comments are valuable, but I’m gonna ignore your advice.” 

on timing

from Charlie and the Glass Elevator:

“We must hurry!’ said Mr. Wonka. ‘We have so much time and so little to do! No! Wait! Strike that! Reverse it!” 

On phonies

from Danny the Champion of the World:

“I was glad my father was an eye-smiler. It meant he never gave me a fake smile because it’s impossible to make your eyes twinkle if you aren’t feeling twinkly yourself. A mouth-smile is different. You can fake a mouth-smile any time you want, simply by moving your lips. I’ve also learned that a real mouth-smile always has an eye-smile to go with it. So watch out, I say, when someone smiles at you but his eyes stay the same. It’s sure to be a phony.”

Roald Dahl Quotes on reading

from Matilda:

“‘Daddy,’ she said, ‘do you think you could buy me a book?’

‘A book?’ he said. ‘What d’you want a flaming books for?’

‘To read, Daddy.’

‘What’s wrong with the telly, for heaven’s sake? We’ve got a lovely telly with a twelve-inch screen and now you come asking for a book! You’re getting spoiled, my girl!'”

on being small

from Matilda:

“But surely you were a small person once, Miss Trunchbull, weren’t you?’

“‘I was never a small person,’ she snapped. ‘I have been large all my life and I don’t see why others can’t be the same way.’

‘But you must have started out as a baby,’ the boy said.

‘Me! A baby!’ shouted the Trunchbull. ‘How dare you suggest such a thing! What cheek! What infernal insolence!'”

And remember

“A little nonsense now and then, is relished by the wisest men.”



Ed.’s Note: Roald Dahl has written many beloved books. He is also a problematic author, known to voice anti-semitic views. You can read more on the subject here.