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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For the Wikipedia policy on quoting, see Wikipedia's Manual of Style.

A quotation is the repetition of one expression as part of another one, particularly when the quoted expression is well-known or explicitly attributed (as by citation) to its original source, and it is indicated by (punctuated with) quotation marks.

A quotation can also refer to the repeated use of units of any other form of expression, especially parts of artistic works: elements of a painting, scenes from a movie or sections from a musical composition.

The rest of this article addresses only written or oral quotations.


Reasons for using quotations

Quotations are used for a variety of reasons: to illuminate the meaning or to support the arguments of the work in which it is being quoted, or to provide direct information about the work being quoted (whether in order to discuss it, positively or negatively, to pay homage to the original work or author, to make the user of the quotation seem well-read). Quotations are also commonly printed as a means of inspiration and to invoke philosophical thoughts from the reader.

Common quotation sources

Famous quotations are frequently collected in books that are sometimes called quotation dictionaries or treasuries. Of these, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations, The Yale Book of Quotations and The MacMillan Book of Proverbs, Maxims, and Famous Phrases are considered among the most reliable and comprehensive sources. Diaries and calendars often include quotations for entertainment or inspirational purposes, and small, dedicated sections in newspapers and weekly magazines — with recent quotations by leading personalities on current topics — have also become commonplace.


Many quotations are routinely incorrect or attributed to the wrong authors, and quotations from obscure or unknown writers are often attributed to far more famous writers. Examples of this are Winston Churchill, to whom many political quotations of uncertain origin are attributed, and Oscar Wilde, to whom anonymous humorous quotes are sometimes attributed.[1]

Deliberate misquotation is also common, though this is often not noticed, usually because the misquotation is better known or because the misquotation better fits a situation. For example, the Star Trek catchphrase 'Beam me up, Scotty' did not appear in that form in the original series- likewise, the famous Dirty Harry quotation 'Are you feeling lucky, punk?' is actually a rewording of the original dialogue. This differs from misinterpretation, in which an author's words are taken out of context, such as the Nietzsche phrase 'God is dead', which is often misunderstood to mean physical death.

  1. ^ See A Book of Misquotations, edited by Elizabeth Knowles, Oxford University Press, 2006.

Quotations and the Internet

Chiefly a text medium in the beginning, the World Wide Web gave rise to any number of personal quotation collections that continue to flourish, even though very few of them seem to facilitate accurate information or correct citation. On June 27, 2003, a sister project of the Wikimedia Foundation called Wikiquote was created as a free online encyclopedia of quotations in every language and it is now the biggest single quotation collection in the world.[citation needed]

The increase of written means of informal communication brought about by the Internet has produced the practice of using quotations as personal flags, as in one's own signature block. This is most commonly seen in email messages and Usenet posts, while it is almost never seen in blog posts. Quotations are also popular as a user's personal message, a line under the user's nickname in some Instant Messaging clients (and here they often go uncited). In all these cases, quotations are usually included to give a glimpse of the user's personality, to make a statement of their beliefs, or to spread views and ideas.

The sheer bulk of online quotations, combined with more efficient search engines, has effectively made the Internet the world's quotation storehouse, encompassing an unprecedented number of easily obtainable quotations. Though matters of accuracy still remain, features such as's Search Inside the Book and Google Book Search may serve to alleviate such concerns.

See also

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Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Quotations article)

From Wikiquote

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)
  • 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.
    • Christopher N. Bovee, Thoughts, Feelings, and Fancies (1857)
  • Quotations can be valuable, like raisins in the rice pudding, for adding iron as well as eye appeal.
  • The great writers of aphorisms read as if they had all known each other very well.
  • 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.
  • 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 perpetuated by quotations.
  • 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.
  • Quotations are the gold mine of human mind, the silver pearls of the wisdom ocean, and the cool drops of the rain of intelligence.
  • An apt quotation is like a lamp which flings its light over the whole sentence.
  • 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.
  • 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 next best thing to being clever is being able to quote someone who is.
    • Mary Pettibone Poole, A Glass Eye at a Keyhole (1938)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.

On Misquotation

  • 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.
  • When you see yourself quoted in print and you're sorry you said it, it suddenly becomes a misquotation.
    • Laurence J. Peter , Peter's Quotations: Ideas for Our Time (1977), ISBN 0-688-03217-6, p. 418
  • 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

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