The Rules of Acquisition were the sacred precepts upon which all Ferengi society was based. They were first written by Gint, the first Grand Nagus. In the mid-22nd century there were 173 rules, and by the 24th century there were 285. (ENT: "Acquisition"; DS9: "Rules of Acquisition", "Body Parts"; VOY: "False Profits") In theory, "[e]very Ferengi business transaction is governed by [these rules] to ensure a fair and honest deal for all parties concerned." (DS9: "The Maquis, Part I").
In 2371, Grand Nagus Zek authored a short-lived revised edition of the Rules, after having his state of mind altered by the Bajoran Prophets. It contained rules very different in character from preceding versions, instead promoting honesty and charity. Upon recovering, Zek ordered the destruction of all copies of this work. (DS9: "Prophet Motive")
|1||Once you have their money, you never give it back.||DS9: "The Nagus", "Heart of Stone"|
|3||Never spend more for an acquisition than you have to.||DS9: "The Maquis, Part II"|
|6||Never allow family to stand in the way of opportunity. ||DS9: "The Nagus"; ENT: "Acquisition"|
|7||Keep your ears open.||DS9: "In the Hands of the Prophets"|
|9||Opportunity plus instinct equals profit.||DS9: "The Storyteller"|
|10||Greed is eternal.||DS9: "Prophet Motive"; VOY: "False Profits"|
|16||A deal is a deal. ||DS9: "Melora"|
|17||A contract is a contract is a contract… but only between Ferengi. ||DS9: "Body Parts"|
|18||A Ferengi without profit is no Ferengi at all.||DS9: "Heart of Stone", "Ferengi Love Songs"|
|21||Never place friendship above profit.||DS9: "Rules of Acquisition"|
|22||A wise man can hear profit in the wind.||DS9: "Rules of Acquisition"; VOY: "False Profits"|
|23||Nothing is more important than your health… except for your money.||ENT: "Acquisition"|
|31||Never make fun of a Ferengi's mother. ||DS9: "The Siege"|
|33||It never hurts to suck up to the boss. ||DS9: "Rules of Acquisition", "The Dogs of War"|
|34||War is good for business. ||DS9: "Destiny", "The Siege of AR-558"|
|35||Peace is good for business. ||TNG: "The Perfect Mate"; DS9: "Destiny"|
|45||Expand or die. ||ENT: "Acquisition"; VOY: "False Profits"|
|47||Don't trust a man wearing a better suit than your own.||DS9: "Rivals"|
|48||The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife.||DS9: "Rules of Acquisition"|
|57||Good customers are as rare as latinum. Treasure them.||DS9: "Armageddon Game"|
|59||Free advice is seldom cheap.||DS9: "Rules of Acquisition"|
|62||The riskier the road, the greater the profit.||DS9: "Rules of Acquisition", "Little Green Men", "Business as Usual"|
|74||Knowledge equals profit.||VOY: "Inside Man"|
|75||Home is where the heart is, but the stars are made of latinum.||DS9: "Civil Defense"|
|76||Every once in a while, declare peace. It confuses the hell out of your enemies.||DS9: "The Homecoming"|
|94||Females and finances don't mix.||DS9: "Ferengi Love Songs", "Profit and Lace"|
|95||Expand or die. ||VOY: "False Profits"; ENT: "Acquisition"|
|98||Every man has his price.||DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight"|
|102||Nature decays, but latinum lasts forever.||DS9: "The Jem'Hadar"|
|103||Sleep can interfere with… ||DS9: "Rules of Acquisition"|
|109||Dignity and an empty sack is worth the sack.||DS9: "Rivals"|
|111||Treat people in your debt like family… exploit them.||DS9: "Past Tense, Part I", "The Darkness and the Light"|
|112||Never have sex with the boss' sister.||DS9: "Playing God"|
|125||You can't make a deal if you're dead.||DS9: "The Siege of AR-558"|
|139||Wives serve, brothers inherit.||DS9: "Necessary Evil"|
|168||Whisper your way to success.||DS9: "Treachery, Faith and the Great River"|
|190||Hear all, trust nothing.||DS9: "Call to Arms"|
|194||It's always good business to know about new customers before they walk in your door. ||DS9: "Whispers"|
|203||New customers are like razor-toothed gree-worms. They can be succulent, but sometimes they bite back.||DS9: "Little Green Men"|
|208||Sometimes the only thing more dangerous than a question is an answer.||DS9: "Ferengi Love Songs"|
|211||Employees are the rungs on the ladder of success. Don't hesitate to step on them.||DS9: "Bar Association"|
|214||Never begin a business negotiation on an empty stomach.||DS9: "The Maquis, Part I"|
|217||You can't free a fish from water.||DS9: "Past Tense, Part I"|
|223||Unknown, but presumably concerned the relationship between "keeping busy" and "being successful".||DS9: "Profit and Loss"|
|229||Latinum lasts longer than lust.||DS9: "Ferengi Love Songs"|
|239||Never be afraid to mislabel a product. ||DS9: "Body Parts"|
|263||Never allow doubt to tarnish your lust for latinum.||DS9: "Bar Association"|
|285||No good deed ever goes unpunished.||DS9: "The Collaborator", "The Sound of Her Voice"|
|Unknown||A man is only worth the sum of his possessions. ||ENT: "Acquisition"|
The following sayings were either not given a number, not explicitly stated to be a Rule, or were not part of the generally-accepted Rules by the Ferengi Commerce Authority.
|286||When Morn leaves, it's all over. ||DS9: "The House of Quark"|
|299||After you've exploited someone, it never hurts to thank them. That way, it's easier to exploit them next time. ||VOY: "False Profits"|
|–||Exploitation begins at home. ||VOY: "False Profits"|
|(The unwritten rule)||When no appropriate rule applies, make one up. ||VOY: "False Profits"|
|–||When the messenger comes to appropriate your profits… kill the messenger. ||VOY: "False Profits"|
|–||Time, like latinum, is a highly limited commodity. ||DS9: "Bar Association"|
|–||Always inspect the merchandise before making a deal. ||DS9: "The Abandoned"|
|–||Money is money, but females are better. ||DS9: "Life Support"|
|–||Why ask, when you can take? ||DS9: "Babel"|
|–||Good things come in small packages ||DS9: "Move Along Home"|
|–||A good lie is easier to believe than the truth. ||VOY: "Shattered"|
|–||If that's what's written, then that's what's written. ||DS9: "Favor the Bold"|
|-||A distracted policeman is an opportunity. ||DS9: "The Sound of Her Voice"|
- As late as 2151, the rule was quoted as being slightly different. "Never allow family to stand in the way of profit" (where profit replaces opportunity). (ENT: "Acquisition")
- Legends of the Ferengi concludes Rule #16 with "…until a better one comes along."
- In the first draft script of "Body Parts", the seventeenth rule was said to simply be, "A contract is a contract is a contract," without the added clause involving species.
- Legends of the Ferengi concludes Rule #31 with "…insult something he cares about instead."
- Brunt stated a variation of this rule (without referring to it by number) with "It's never too early to suck up to the boss".
- Quark stated a corollary: "only from a distance, the closer to the front lines, the less profitable it gets"
- Although spoken before the production staff's creation of the Rules of Acquisition, Par Lenor stated something quite similar to this rule: "Peace is good for trade … unless you happen to be an arms merchant!"
- Rule of Acquisition #95 was quoted as Rule #45 in ENT: "Acquisition". It might be possible though, that in the roughly two hundred years between the two episodes, the arrangement of the Rules of Acquisition slightly changed. Alternatively, it may have been decided that the rule bears repeating. Indeed, this may be self-referential.
- This rule was interrupted before it could be finished.
- This rule was actually only called "one of the high numbers" by Quark; he only thought it was rule 194.
- In DS9: "Body Parts", it is suggested in a dream of Quark's, that the Rules of Acquisition themselves are merely guidelines, and the book was mislabeled by Gint so as to sell more copies than the "Suggestions of Acquisition." However, this may be no more than Quark trying to justify breaking rule #17, since this rule is obviously higher than ENT's "original" 173 rules. It could also be noted that the Grand Nagus has the power to change the Rules of Acquisition, so it is still possible this rule changed position over time (DS9: "Prophet Motive").
- Though not given a number, this rule was clearly official, among the first 173, and considered "the most important one" by Krem.
- Personal rule of Quark's. Rom noted there was no such rule, to which Quark replied that there should be.
- Is likely a purely fictional rule, as it was quoted by Neelix, who had no previous contact with Ferengi, and it did not exist by the time the target Ferengi became stranded in the Delta Quadrant. Neelix claimed at the time that Kol had been away for a long time to suggest that new rules had been written. It could be consistent if Neelix had found some encrypted appendix in the Ferengi shuttle that Kol had not read.
- Arridor and Kol taught the Takarians this saying. It was not stated whether it was an official rule or not. According to Star Trek Online, this is rule 110.
- According to Arridor.
- Invented by Arridor. According to Star Trek Online, this is rule 257.
- This saying was quoted by Brunt to Quark. It is unknown whether it was an official rule or not. According to Star Trek Online, it is rule 240.
- Not quoted word for word, but when Sisko asked if such a rule existed, Quark acknowledged that there was. Quark may have been referring to the apocryphal Rule 218 (see below). According to Star Trek Online, this is rule 272.
- A personal rule quoted by Nog despite its direct contradiction to rules 94 and 229.
- As told to Odo by Quark when the latter illegally used replicators in empty crew quarters. He seems to have been paraphrasing the apocryphal Rule 52 (see below).
- Quark told the Wadi delegation visiting his establishment that this was an old Ferengi saying.
- This un-numbered "rule"'s provenance derives merely from Janeway quoting it as something "the Ferengi say". It may not, therefore, have been a genuine rule. The apocryphal Pocket DS9 title The Long Mirage, however, explicitly describes it as a rule, but does not give it a number.
- Rom said this to Quark when urging him to complete a very important mission that could end with the two being killed. From the implicit understanding Quark displayed, and the lack of prior reference to any "written" materials, it's likely that this was in fact a rule, probably referring to the finality of a business contract, here used out of this original context. According to Star Trek Online, this is rule 227.
- Quark says this to Jake in the opening of the episode upon noticing Odo's love for Kira is a distraction.
The Rules of Acquisition were invented by executive producer-writer Ira Steven Behr at the beginning of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (beginning with "The Nagus") (Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 1, p. 267)) and were mentioned throughout the Star Trek spinoffs.
Similarly, in the first draft script of "Body Parts", the 153rd rule was stated to be, "People will buy anything… especially junk."
The authors of the Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 1, p. 267) identified "Exploitation begins at home.", from the episode "False Profits", as one of these rules.
- "Bloodlines" (Season 7)
- "The Nagus" (Season 1)
- "The Storyteller"
- "In the Hands of the Prophets"
- "The Homecoming" (Season 2)
- "The Siege"
- "Rules of Acquisition"
- "Necessary Evil"
- "Profit and Loss"
- "The Maquis, Part I"
- "The Collaborator"
- "The Jem'Hadar"
- "The House of Quark" (Season 3)
- "The Abandoned"
- "Civil Defense"
- "Past Tense, Part I"
- "Life Support"
- "Heart of Stone"
- "Prophet Motive"
- "Family Business"
- "Bar Association" (Season 4)
- "Body Parts"
- "The Darkness and the Light" (Season 5)
- "Business as Usual"
- "Ferengi Love Songs"
- "Call to Arms"
- "In the Pale Moonlight" (Season 6)
- "Profit and Lace"
- "The Sound of Her Voice"
- "Treachery, Faith and the Great River" (Season 7)
- "The Dogs of War"
- "Acquisition" (Season 1)
Deep Space Nine writers Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe expanded upon the Rules and Ferengi culture in the non-canon books, The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition and Legends of the Ferengi. A number of additional rules have also appeared within Pocket Deep Space Nine titles.
The following rules are derived from non-canon sources:
|2||The best deal is the one that brings the most profit.||The 34th Rule|
|2||Money is everything.||Strange New Worlds 9: "The Last Tree on Ferenginar: A Ferengi Fable From the Future"|
|8||Small print leads to large risk.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|13||Anything worth doing is worth doing for money.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|19||Satisfaction is not guaranteed.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|27||There's nothing more dangerous than an honest businessman.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|39||Don't tell customers more than they need to know.||Ascendance|
|40||She can touch your lobes, but never your latinum.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|41||Profit is its own reward.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|44||Never confuse wisdom with luck.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|52||Never ask when you can take.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|53||Never trust anybody taller than you.||Twilight|
|54||Rate divided by time equals profit. (Also known as the "Velocity of Wealth")||Raise the Dawn|
|55||Take joy from profit and profit from joy.||Raise the Dawn|
|58||There is no substitute for success.||Legends of the Ferengi; Star Trek: The Next Generation - Birth of the Federation (Ferengi Opening)|
|60||Keep your lies consistent.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|65||Win or lose, there's always Hupyrian beetle snuff.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|68||Risk doesn't always equal reward.||Star Trek Online|
|77||If you break it, I'll charge you for it.||Star Trek Online|
|79||Beware of the Vulcan greed for knowledge.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|82||The flimsier the product, the higher the price.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|85||Never let the competition know what you're thinking.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|87||Learn the customer's weaknesses so you can better take advantage of them.||Star Trek: Elite Force II|
|88||Vengeance will cost you everything.||The Poisoned Chalice|
|89||Ask not what your profits can do for you, but what you can do for your profits.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|97||Enough… is never enough.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|98||If you can't take it with you, don't go.||I, Q|
|99||Trust is the biggest liability of all.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|100||When it's good for business, tell the truth.||Ascendance|
|101||Profit trumps emotion.||The Long Mirage|
|104||Faith moves mountains… of inventory.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|106||There is no honor in poverty.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|108||Hope doesn't keep the lights on.||Sacraments of Fire|
|113||Always have sex with the boss.||Legends of the Ferengi, The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition|
|121||Everything is for sale, even friendship.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|123||Even a blind man can recognize the glow of latinum.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|135||Listen to secrets, but never repeat them.||Ascendance|
|141||Only fools pay retail.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|144||There's nothing wrong with charity… as long as it winds up in your pocket.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|147||People love the bartender.||Fearful Symmetry|
|151||Even when you're a customer, sell yourself.||The Long Mirage|
|162||Even in the worst of times, someone turns a profit.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|177||Know your enemies… but do business with them always.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|181||Not even dishonesty can tarnish the shine of profit.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|189||Let others keep their reputation. You keep their latinum.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|192||Never cheat a Klingon… unless you can get away with it.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|193||It's never too late to fire the staff.||Cathedral|
|193||Trouble comes in threes.||Star Trek Online|
|202||The justification for profit is profit.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|216||Never gamble with a telepath.||The Laertian Gamble|
|218||Always know what you're buying.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|218||Sometimes what you get free costs entirely too much.||Malibu DS9: "Baby on Board"|
|223||Beware the man who doesn't make time for oo-mox.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|235||Duck; death is tall.||Twilight|
|236||You can't buy fate.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|242||More is good… All is better.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|243||Always leave yourself an out.||Sacraments of Fire|
|255||A wife is a luxury… a smart accountant a necessity.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|261||A wealthy man can afford anything except a conscience.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|266||When in doubt, lie.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|267||If you believe it, they believe it.||Star Trek Titan: Taking Wing|
|284||Deep down, everyone's a Ferengi.||Legends of the Ferengi|
|305||Always be considerate. (Not a real Rule, of course, but quoted by Quark.)||Twilight|
|431||When the shooting starts, let the mercenaries handle it.||Star Trek Online|
|Time is money. (Not a real Rule; Quark considered it one of the "few pieces of sound business advice that he'd ever heard uttered by a hew-mon.")||Sacraments of Fire|
|You get what you pay for. (Another Human saying that Quark sometimes set store by.)||The Long Mirage|
|If they can't be bought, get ready to fight. (A rule proposed by Grand Nagus Rom in response to the Hur'q invasion.)||Star Trek Online|
|It's not smart to turn down a deal with the Grand Nagus. (Another rule Rom proposed when Brunt tried and failed to double-cross him and Quark.)||Star Trek Online|