We speak about 16,000 words a day on average (and, on a related note, men and women speak about the same number words per day – it is a myth that women speak more words than men, see here). That’s 5.84 million words a year, 58 million words per decade and over 300 million words for an average lifespan.
Of all those words spoken during a lifetime, the first word uttered is a milestone, and most commonly “dada” or “mama,” and our dying utterances can be momentous as well. Here are some notable last words:
- Author and Poet Emily Dickenson: “I must go in, for the fog is rising.”
- Philosopher, economist and revolutionary Karl Marx upon being asked if he had any last words: “Go on, get out – last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.”
- British surgeon Joseph Henry Green checked his own pulse as he lay dying and uttered these last words: “Stopped.”
- Nobel Prize winning Richard Feynman: “I’d hate to die twice. This dying business is so boring.” BTW, his memoir “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” is a fantastic book.
- John Adams, second President of the United States: “Thomas Jefferson survives.” Actually, Jefferson had died about five hours earlier, with both Adams and Jefferson dying on July 4, 1826.
- Charles Darwin, co-discoverer of theory of evolution: “I am not the least afraid to die.”
- Augustus Caesar, the first Roman emperor has two different reported last words according to History.com: to his subjects he said, “I found Rome of clay; I leave it to you of marble,” but to the friends who had stayed with him in his rise to power he added, “Have I played the part well? Then applaud me as I exit.” History.com also notes that shortly after his death the Roman Senate declared him to be a god.
- Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest geniuses the world has ever known, said this as his last words: “I have offended God and Mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.” He also produced over 7,200 pages of notes (probably even more than that as some have surely been lost) and his last note entry said “but the soup is getting cold.”
- Bob Marley, reggae musician: “Money can’t buy life.”
- Sir Winston Churchill’s last words were, “I’m bored with it all.”
- Alfred Hitchcock, maker of suspenseful films: “One never knows the ending. One has to die to know exactly what happens after death, although Catholics have their hopes.”
- Sir Isaac Newton, discoverer of the laws of motion and thermodynamics as well as calculus: “I don’t know what I may seem to the world. But as to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself now and then in finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than the ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
- Voltaire, historian, writer and philosopher, was asked by a priest attending him on his deathbed to renounce Satan. Voltaire replied: “Now is not the time for making new enemies.”
- Maester Aemon Targaryen in The Game of Thrones: “Eggg . . . I dreamed I was old.”