Words To Live By: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
May 15, 2023

"Words to live by" implies a set of guiding principles or philosophies that one adopts for their life. These are often wise sayings, moral guidelines, or inspirational quotes that provide direction and shape one's behavior and decisions.

In short:

"Words to live by" refers to guiding principles or inspirational sayings that shape an individual's actions and decisions in life.

What Does "Words to Live By" Mean?

The idiom "words to live by" is used to indicate guiding principles or influential sayings that inspire a person's actions and life choices. These words can be personal philosophies, inspirational quotes, or moral guidelines.

Key aspects of the idiom's meaning include:

  • Represents guiding principles or philosophies
  • Associated with inspiring, motivating, or influencing behavior

Depending on the person, these words could range from simple life advice to profound philosophical wisdom.

Where Does "Words to Live By" Come From?

This idiom is relatively modern and emerged from the idea that words, particularly in the form of advice or sayings, can guide one's actions and decisions. The phrase encapsulates the power of language and wisdom to shape an individual's life and mindset.

Historical Example

"Often, while editing these pieces, I have wondered what my own 'Words to Live By' would be."

- National Review, 1962

10 Examples of "Words to Live By" in Sentences

Here are some examples of using the idiom in sentences:

  • My grandmother always told me that honesty is the best policy, and I consider those words to live by.
  • "No man is an island" are words to live by for many people.
  • After reading the book, I found a new set of words to live by that changed my perspective on life.
  • My mentor's advice, "No guts, no glory," became my words to live by.
  • Adopting "snitches get stitches" as their words to live by, the group maintained a strict code of silence.
  • After I logged in to the online seminar, I found some inspiring words to live by.
  • "Work hard, play hard" are my words to live by.
  • As an environmentalist, "reduce, reuse, recycle" are words to live by for me.
  • Her words to live by were, "This too shall pass," which helped her through tough times.
  • "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes" became my words to live by.

Examples of "Words to Live By" in Pop Culture

The phrase "words to live by" is often found in self-help books, motivational speeches, and personal development resources. It is a popular concept in media that focuses on personal growth and life improvement.

Some examples include:

  • The "CBS Schoolbreak Special" TV series episode titled "Words to Live By" was released in 1989 as the third episode of the sixth season.
  • "Words to Live By: Daily Inspiration for Spiritual Living" by Eknath Easwaran, published in 2010, is a thought-provoking collection of "words to live by" that offers readers daily guidance and inspiration on their spiritual journey.

Other/Different Ways to Say "Words to Live By"

Several alternative expressions can convey a similar meaning to "words to live by."

Some of these include:

  • Guiding principles
  • Life Philosophy
  • Moral compass
  • Personal mantra
  • Inspirational quotes

These alternatives can be used interchangeably depending on the context and the type of principle or quote being referred to.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Words to Live By"

  • Are "words to live by" always philosophical or moral guidelines?

Not necessarily. "Words to live by" can be any advice, wisdom, or saying that a person finds meaningful and uses as a guide for their actions and decisions in life.

  • Can "words to live by" change over time?

Yes, as people grow and experience different things, their "words to live by" can change to reflect their evolving perspectives and priorities.

  • Can one have multiple "words to live by"?

Yes, a person can have multiple guiding principles or sayings that they consider their "words to live by."

  • Are "words to live by" always serious?

While often profound or inspirational, "words to live by" can also be light-hearted or humorous, reflecting the individual's personality or approach to life.

  • Can "words to live by" come from any source?

Yes, "words to live by" can come from a variety of sources, including books, movies, speeches, personal experiences, or even casual conversations.

  • Do "words to live by" have to be universally recognized sayings?

No, "words to live by" can be personal and unique to the individual. They do not have to be widely recognized or accepted sayings.

  • Can "words to live by" be a question?

Yes, a guiding question that prompts reflection or action can also serve as "words to live by."

  • Can one use the phrase in a negative context?

While typically associated with positive guidance or inspiration, "words to live by" could potentially be negative if they encourage harmful or destructive behavior.

  • Can "words to live by" be personal or private?

Yes, "words to live by" can be very personal and are often kept private. They are not necessarily meant to be shared with others, although many people do choose to share them.

  • Can "words to live by" influence a person's character?

Yes, "words to live by" can greatly influence a person's character, actions, and decisions, as they often serve as a guiding principle or moral compass.

Final Thoughts About "Words to Live By"

To sum it up, the idiom "words to live by" refers to guiding principles, inspirational quotes, or personal mantras that individuals use as a roadmap for their actions and decisions. These words can provide motivation, inspire personal growth, and help individuals navigate through life's challenges.

Key aspects of the phrase:

  • Reflects personal beliefs, principles, or philosophy
  • Can serve as a source of motivation or inspiration
  • Applicable in various contexts and adaptable as individuals evolve

Remember, "words to live by" are unique to each person and can come from various sources. They can change as individuals grow and experience different things. These words, whether light-hearted or profound, contribute to shaping a person's perspective and approach to life.

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