Quotations Quotes


  • Quotation. The act of repeating erroneously the words of another. The words erroneously repeated.
    o Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary (1911)

  • Quotations can be valuable, like raisins in the rice pudding, for adding iron as well as eye appeal.
    o Peg Bracken, I Didn’t Come Here to Argue

  • The great writers of aphorisms read as if they had all known each other very well.
    o Elias Canetti, The Human Province

  • Beware of thinkers whose minds function only when they are fueled by a quotation.
    o Emile Cioran, Anathemas and Admirations

  • 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.”
    o Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Aids to Reflection (1825)

  • The wisdom of the wise and the experience of the ages are perpetuated by quotations.
    o Isaac D’Israeli, Curiosities of Literature (1791-1823)

  • Immortality. I notice that as soon as writers broach this question they begin to quote. I hate quotation. Tell me what you know.
    o Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals (May 1849)
    o 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.
    o Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals v. 16 (1867)

  • By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote.
    o Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Quotation and Originality” in Letters and Social Aims (1876)

  • A great man quotes bravely, and will not draw on his invention when his memory serves him with a word just as good.
    o Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Quotation and Originality” in Letters and Social Aims (1876)

  • Quotation confesses inferiority.
    o Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims (1876)

  • An apt quotation is like a lamp which flings its light over the whole sentence.
    o Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Romance and Reality

  • Anyone can tell the truth, but only very few of us can make epigrams.
    o W. Somerset Maugham, A Winter’s Notebook

  • I do not speak the minds of others except to speak my own mind better.
    o Michel de Montaigne, “Of the Education of Children” (1575)
    o Variant: 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.
    o Dorothy Parker, The Little Hours

  • A fine quotation is a diamond on the finger of a man of wit, and a pebble in the hand of a fool.
    o Joseph Roux, Meditations of a Parish Priest

  • I shall never be ashamed to quote a bad author if what he says is good.
    o Seneca the Younger, On Tranquility of Mind

  • The best ideas are common property.
    o Seneca the Younger, “On Old Age”, Moral Letters to Lucilius

  • It’s better to be quotable than to be honest.
    o Tom Stoppard The Guardian 1973

  • A witty saying proves nothing.
    o Voltaire Le dîner du comte de Boulainvilliers (1767): Deuxième Entretien

  • It needs no dictionary of quotations to remind me that the eyes are the windows of the soul.
    o Max Beerbohm Zuleika Dobson (1911)

  • Life itself is a quotation.
    o Jorge Luis Borges quoted in Cool Memories by Jean Baudrillard p. 209

  • At all events, the next best thing to being witty one’s self, is to be able to quote another’s wit.
    o Christopher N. Bovee Thoughts, Feelings, and Fancies (1857)

    On Misquotation

    The Rules of Misquotation:

  • Axiom 1. Any quotation that can be altered will be.
    o Corollary 1A: Vivid words hook misquotes in the mind.
    o Corollary 1B: Numbers are hard to keep straight.
    o Corollary 1C: Small changes can have a big impact (or: what a difference an a makes).
    o Corollary 1D: If noted figures don’t say what needs to be said, we’ll say it for them.
    o Corollary 1E: Journalists are a less than dependable source of accurate quotes.
    o Corollary 1F: Famous dead people make excellent commentators on current events.
  • Axiom 2. Famous quotes need famous mouths.
    o Corollary 2A: Well-known messengers get credit for clever comments they report from less celebrated mouths.
    o Corollary 2B: Particularly quotable figures receive more than their share of quotable quotes.
    o Corollary 2C: Comments made about someone might as well have been said by that person.
    o Corollary 2D: Who you think said something may depend on where you live.
    o Corollary 2E: Vintage quotes are considered to be in the public domain.
    o 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)


  • Books of quotations are an elemental model of how culture is perpetuated, the wisdom of the trite passed on to posterity, to be added to, edited, and modified by subsequent generations.
    o Robert Andrews

  • A proverb is a short sentence based on long experience.
    o Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

  • You could compile the worst book in the world entirely out of selected quotations from the greatest writers in the world.
    o G. K. Chesterton

  • Why are not more gems from our great authors scattered over our country? Great books 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 me 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.
    o Samuel Taylor Coleridge

  • I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.
    o Marlene Dietrich

  • One original thought is worth a thousand mindless quotings.
    o Diogenes

  • 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.
    o Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Wisdom is meaningless until your own experience has given it meaning … and there is wisdom in the selection of wisdom.
    o Bergen Evens

  • And yes the reason I love quotes— it gets us back to the way life used to be and should be … and we must be reminded as life is becoming very stressful, very busy, families are no longer what they used to be and I love to be reminded to slow down and smell the roses. Think about where you are going and what you are doing. They truly give life perspective.
    o Bobbi Fillmore

  • When a thing has been said and well said, have no scruple; take it and copy it.
    o Anatole France

  • Quotations help us remember the simple yet profound truths that give life perspective and meaning. When it comes to life’s most important lessons, we can all use gentle reminders.
    o Chriswell Freeman

  • Stronger than an army is a quotation whose time has come.
    o W.I.E. Gates

  • Stop quoting me!
    o Jimmy Henderson

  • What’s the use of a good quotation if you can’t change it?
    o Robert Holmes

  • Quotation is the highest compliment you can pay to an author.
    o Samuel Johnson

  • The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.
    o W. Somerset Maugham

  • Quote me as saying I was mis-quoted.
    o Groucho Marx

  • A quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself.
    o A. A. Milne

  • Wise men make proverbs, but fools repeat them.
    o Samuel Palmer

  • Misquotations are the only quotations that are never misquoted.
    o Hesketh Pearson

  • The next best thing to being clever is being able to quote someone who is.
    o Mary Pettibone Poole

  • Those quotations were really quite obscure. Anyone can see that he is a very well-read man.
    o Barbara Pym

  • Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it.
    o George Santayana

  • I always have a quotation for everything— it saves original thinking.
    o Dorothy Sayers

  • A witty quotation only makes the obvious less so, but it can also make the painfully obvious less painfully so.
    o R. G. Shemeley

  • To be occasionally quoted is the only fame I hope for.
    o Alexander Smith

  • Nobody quotes me, so why should I quote someone else?
    o unknown

  • No comment, but don’t quote me.
    o unknown

  • One good quote is worth a book.
    o unknown

  • You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be misquoted, then used against you.
    o unknown

  • Quoting is the thinking of fools.
    o unknown

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