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This page is for quotations about quotations and quoting.


  • It needs no dictionary of quotations to remind me that the eyes are the windows of the soul.
  • The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him. That remark in itself wouldn't make any sense if quoted as it stands.
    • Robert Benchley, in "Quick Quotations" in My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew (1936).
  • Its fall is entirely owing to itself, the seeds of death were in it from the commencement. The powers of satire and of derision, which it exercised with as little mercy as modesty, have proved, in the result, very humble powers; and after usurping an authority, the most dictatorial and audacious, a general doubt is now expressed as to the ability with which it was at one time supposed to have been conducted. Of this there certainly can be no dispute that it will be difficult to name as many volumes in the English language which afford so few quotable passages; and perhaps there can be no better proof of the original mediocrity of the contributors, whatever may have been the merit of a few occasional articles.
    • Blackwood's Magazine, "Historical View of the Rise, Progress, Decline and Fall of the Edinburgh Review" W. Blackwood (1821) Vol.10 p.680
  • Of all the many and (thanks to a free press) the ever-multiplying blessings attendant upon the "glorious constitution" of literature, not the least precious and profitable to a modern cultivator of systems and syllables, in pamphlets, magazines, and folios, is the right of Quotation.
  • Shall we not rejoice then and revel in the glorious liberty of extract, and quote to the thousandth line? Shall we not have pages like the Pyramids?
    • Samuel Laman Blanchard, Sketches from life (1846)
  • I must stop to lament, that we cannot evince an admiring gratitude towards other excellent things by a like readiness of quotation: that we cannot, for instance, quote a star that we have been watching; or a hue of sunset; or a friend's voice, and his shake of the hand (I had almost said heart); or a beautiful picture...
    • Samuel Laman Blanchard, Sketches from life (1846)
  • Life itself is a quotation.
    • Jorge Luis Borges, quoted in Cool Memories (1987) by Jean Baudrillard, (trans. 1990) Ch. 5.
  • At all events, the next best thing to being witty one's self, is to be able to quote another's wit.
  • Quotations can be valuable, like raisins in the rice pudding, for adding iron as well as eye appeal.
  • At all times pseudoprofound aphorisms have been more popular than rigorous arguments.
  • All which he understood by rote,
    And, as occasion serv'd, would quote.
  • With just enough of learning to misquote.
    • Lord Byron, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809), line 66.
  • Perverts the Prophets, and purloins the Psalms.
    • Lord Byron, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809), line 326.
  • The great writers of aphorisms read as if they had all known each other very well.
  • To copy beauties, forfeits all pretence
    To fame—to copy faults, is want of sense.
  • It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations is an admirable work, and I studied it intently. The quotations when engraved upon the memory give you good thoughts. They also make you anxious to read the authors and look for more.
  • There is nothing so ridiculous but some philosopher has said it.
  • Beware of thinkers whose minds function only when they are fueled by a quotation.
  • Exclusively of the abstract science, the largest and worthiest portion of our knowledge consists of aphorisms: and the greatest and best of men is but an aphorism.
  • Why are not more gems from our early prose writers scattered over the country by the periodicals?…But Great old books of the great old authors are not in everybody's reach; and though it is better to know them thoroughly than to know them only here and there, yet it is a good work to give a little to those who have neither time nor means to get more. Let every book-worm, when in any fragrant, scarce old tome, he discovers a sentence, a story, an illustration, that does his heart good, hasten to give it the widest circulation that newspapers and magazines, penny and halfpenny, can afford.
  • Thou art a retailer of phrases, and dost deal in remnants of remnants.
  • Quotation brings to many one of the intensest joys of living.
    • Bernard Darwin, Introduction, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 1st Edition (1941).
  • The wisdom of the wise and the experience of the ages are preserved by quotations.
  • The art of quotation requires more delicacy in the practice than those conceive who see nothing more in a quotation than an extract.
  • Sometimes it seems the only accomplishment my education ever bestowed on me, the ability to think in quotations.
    • Margaret Drabble, A Summer Bird-Cage (1963; New York: William Morrow, 1964) p. 49.
  • Immortality. I notice that as soon as writers broach this question they begin to quote. I hate quotation. Tell me what you know.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals (May 1849)
    • Emerson is referring to the act of quotation in regard to the subject of "immortality", and the unreliability of second hand testimony or worse upon profound subjects; ironically, it is often taken out of proper context, and has even begun appearing on the internet as "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know" or sometimes just "I hate quotations".
  • Next to the originator of a good sentence is the first quoter of it. Many will read the book before one thinks of quoting a passage. As soon as he has done this, that line will be quoted east and west.
  • By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote.
  • A great man quotes bravely, and will not draw on his invention when his memory serves him with a word just as good.
  • Some men's words I remember so well that I must often use them to express my thought. Yes, because I perceive that we have heard the same truth, but they have heard it better.
  • When a thing has been said and well said, have no scruple; take it and copy it. Give references ? Why should you ? Either your readers know where you have taken the passage and the precaution is needless, or they do not know and you humiliate them.
    • Anatole France, quoted in Anatole France Himself - A Boswellian Record by Jean Jacques Brousson
  • But quotations and aphorisms are generally just verbal Christmas presents; enticingly done up in pretty paper and ribbons, but once you get them open they generally turn out to be just socks.
  • Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language.
    • Samuel Johnson, Preface to A Dictionary of the English Language (1755).
  • An apt quotation is like a lamp which flings its light over the whole sentence.
  • The French public seem to estimate the master pieces of their favorite tragic poets chiefly by the number of fine quotable passages they supply; while their critics estimate their worth by their conformity with certain purely artificial rules.
  • She had a pretty gift for quotation, which is a serviceable substitute for wit…
  • Anyone can tell the truth, but only very few of us can make epigrams.
  • Je ne dis les autres, sinon pour d'autant plus me dire.
    • I do not speak the minds of others except to speak my own mind better.
    • Michel de Montaigne, "Of the Education of Children" (1575)
    • Variant: Je ne cite les autres que pour mieux exprimer ma pensée.
      • I quote others only the better to express myself.
  • We are what we have deitalicized.
    • Gary Morson, The Words of Others (2011), p. 49
  • The undigested is quoted, the assimilated is not.
    • Gary Morson, The Words of Others (2011), p. 50
  • I might repeat to myself, slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound; if i can remember any of the damn things.
  • The poem, although widely differing in subject from any of Mrs. Lewis' prior compositions, and far superior to any of them in general vigor, artistic skill, and assured certainty of purpose, is nevertheless easily recognizable as the production of the same mind which originated "Florence" and "The Forsaken." We perceive, throughout, the same passion, the same enthusiasm, and the same seemingly reckless abandon of thought and manner which we have already mentioned as characterizing the writer. We should have spoken also, of a fastidious yet most sensitive and almost voluptuous sense of Beauty. These are the general traits of "The Child of the Sea:" but undoubtedly the chief value of the poem, to ordinary readers, will be found to lie in the aggregation of its imaginative passages—its quotable points.
  • The next best thing to being clever is being able to quote someone who is.
    • Mary Pettibone Poole, A Glass Eye at a Keyhole (1938).
  • He ranged his tropes, and preached up patience,
    Backed his opinion with quotations.
  • Quotes are just fancy ways of stating the obvious
    • Gerald Prunty, Sleepfighting.
  • Those quotations were really quite obscure. Anyone can see that he is a very well-read man.
  • A fine quotation is a diamond on the finger of a man of wit, and a pebble in the hand of a fool.
  • Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it.
    • George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Vol. 5: Reason in Science (1906), Ch. 8: "Prerational Morality"
  • I always have a quotation for everything—it saves original thinking.
  • A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought.
  • I shall never be ashamed to quote a bad author if what he says is good.
  • The best ideas are common property.
  • It's better to be quotable than to be honest.
  • It is also naïve empiricism to provide, in support of some argument, series of eloquent confirmatory quotes by dead authorities. By searching, you can always find someone who made a well-sounding statement that confirms your point of view—and, on every topic, it is possible to find another dead thinker who said the exact opposite.
  • I like quoting Einstein. Know why? Because nobody dares contradict you.
  • Some great writers produce a profound effect by their work as a whole, but are not readily quotable; others have the gift of condensing their meaning into a striking phrase. The conscious and deliberate literary artist will generally be found to belong to the latter class. Pope, for example, is the most quotable writer in English after Shakespeare. Stevenson stands intermediate. On the whole, he rather diffuses his meaning, and makes it an atmosphere enfolding everything; but at times his skill in words concentrates itself in a sentence or phrase, or even in a word.
  • Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.
  • To patchwork learn'd quotations are allied,
    Both strive to make our poverty our pride.
  • Some, for renown, on scraps of learning dote,
    And think they grow immortal as they quote.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 653-54.
  • There is not less wit nor invention in applying rightly a thought one finds in a book, than in being the first author of that thought. Cardinal du Perron has been heard to say that the happy application of a verse of Virgil has deserved a talent.
  • One whom it is easier to hate, but still easier to quote—Alexander Pope.
  • The greater part of our writers. * * * have become so original, that no one cares to imitate them: and those who never quote in return are seldom quoted.
  • The art of quotation requires more delicacy in the practice than those conceive who can see nothing more in a quotation than an extract.
  • One may quote till one compiles.
  • The wisdom of the wise and the experience of ages may be preserved by QUOTATION.
  • A book which hath been culled from the flowers of all books.
  • A great man quotes bravely, and will not draw on his invention when his memory serves him with a word as good.
  • By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we quote. We quote not only books and proverbs, but arts, sciences, religion, customs, and laws; nay, we quote temples and houses, tables and chairs by imitation.
  • Next to the originator of a good sentence is the first quoter of it.
  • We are as much informed of a writer's genius by what he selects as by what he originates.
  • Classical quotation is the parole of literary men all over the world.
  • C'est souvent hasarder un bon mot et vouloir le perdre quo de le donner pour sien.
    • A good saying often runs the risk of being thrown away when quoted as the speaker's own.
    • Jean de La Bruyère, Les Caractères, II.
  • 'Twas not an Age ago since most of our Books were nothing but Collections of Latin Quotations; there was not above a line or two of French in a Page.
    • Jean de La Bruyère, The Characters or Manners of the Present Age (1688), Chapter XV. Of the Pulpit.
  • Though old the thought and oft exprest,
    'Tis his at last who says it best.
  • Comme quelqu'un pourroit dire de moy, que j'ay seulement faict icy un amas de fleurs estrangieres, n'y ayant fourny du mien que le filet à les lier.
    • As one might say of me that I have only made here a collection of other people's flowers, having provided nothing of my own but the cord to bind them together.
    • Michel de Montaigne, Essays, Book III, Chapter XII.
  • … I have seen books made of things neither studied nor ever understood … the author contenting himself for his own part, to have cast the plot and projected the design of it, and by his industry to have bound up the fagot of unknown provisions; at least the ink and paper his own. This may be said to be a buying or borrowing, and not a making or compiling of a book.
  • Always to verify your references.
    • Rev. Dr. Routh, to Dean Burgon. Nov. 29, 1847. See Very Rev. John Burgon, Lives of Twenty Good Men. "Reference" in ed. of 1891; "quotation" in earlier ed.
  • The little honesty existing among authors is to be seen in the outrageous way in which they misquote from the writings of others.
  • A forward critic often dupes us
    With sham quotations peri hupsos,
    And if we have not read Longinus,
    Will magisterially outshine us.
    Then, lest with Greek he over-run ye,
    Procure the book for love or money,
    Translated from Boileau's translation,
    And quote quotation on quotation.
  • I am but a gatherer and disposer of other men's stuff.
    • Sir Henry Wotton, Preface to the Elements of Architecture.

On Misquotation[edit]

  • Quotation. The act of repeating erroneously the words of another. The words erroneously repeated.
  • I got $25 from Reader's Digest last week for something I never said. I get credit all the time for things I never said.
  • Misquotation is, in fact, the pride and privilege of the learned. A widely-read man never quotes accurately, for the rather obvious reason that he has read too widely.
  • When you see yourself quoted in print and you're sorry you said it, it suddenly becomes a misquotation.
  • My toils in the quotation field have led me to formulate two or three laws about the way people use and abuse quotations. My first law is: When in doubt, ascribe all quotations to Bernard Shaw – which I don't mean to be taken literally, but as a general observation of the habit people have of attaching remarks to the nearest obvious speaker.
    • Nigel Rees, Sayings of the Century (London: Allen & Unwin, 1987) p. iv.
  • An analagous process I shall call Churchillian Drift...Whereas quotations with an apothegmatic feel are normally ascribed to Shaw, those with a more grandiose or belligerent tone are, as if by osmosis, credited to Churchill. All humorous remarks obviously made by a female originated, of course, with Dorothy Parker. All quotations in translation, on the other hand, should be attributed to Goethe (with "I think" obligatory).
    • Nigel Rees, Brewer's Quotations (London: Cassell, 1994) p. x.
  • The Rules of Misquotation:
    • Axiom 1. Any quotation that can be altered will be.
      • Corollary 1A: Vivid words hook misquotes in the mind.
      • Corollary 1B: Numbers are hard to keep straight.
      • Corollary 1C: Small changes can have a big impact (or: what a difference an a makes).
      • Corollary 1D: If noted figures don't say what needs to be said, we'll say it for them.
      • Corollary 1E: Journalists are a less than dependable source of accurate quotes.
      • Corollary 1F: Famous dead people make excellent commentators on current events.
    • Axiom 2. Famous quotes need famous mouths.
      • Corollary 2A: Well-known messengers get credit for clever comments they report from less celebrated mouths.
      • Corollary 2B: Particularly quotable figures receive more than their share of quotable quotes.
      • Corollary 2C: Comments made about someone might as well have been said by that person.
      • Corollary 2D: Who you think said something may depend on where you live.
      • Corollary 2E: Vintage quotes are considered to be in the public domain.
      • Corollary 2F: In a pinch, any orphan quote can be called a Chinese proverb.
    • Ralph Keyes, "Nice Guys Finish Seventh": False Phrases, Spurious Sayings, and Familiar Misquotations (1992) ISBN 0062700200.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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