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A Kiss is a Lovely Trick, & More

Favorite Quotations About Words, Vol. 1


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Photo: Wikimedia

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter - it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

  • Mark Twain, 1888

favorite-quotations-about-words-vol-1-words-become-superfluous
Photo: Wikipedia

A kiss is a lovely trick, designed by nature, to stop speech when words become superfluous.

  • Ingrid Bergman

'Well,' said Owl, 'the customary procedure in such cases is as follows.'

'What does Crustimoney Proseedcake mean?' said Pooh. 'For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me.'

'It means the Thing to Do.'

'As long as it means that, I don't mind,' said Pooh humbly.'

  • A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh, 1926

The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for.

  • Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 1953

Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.

  • Dorothy Parker, interview in Paris Review, 1956

He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met.

  • Abraham Lincoln, quoted in Frederick Trevor Hill's Lincoln the Lawyer, 1906

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words all being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.

  • Vladimir Nabokov, Lectures on Literature, 1980

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.

  • George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language," 1946

Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs. The adjective hasn't been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place.

  • William Strunk and E.B. White, The Elements of Style, 1959

(A variation of this idea: "The road to hell is paved with adverbs." - Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, 2000.)

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Up Next
favorite-quotations-about-words-volume-2-art-of-conversation

The Art of Conversation Is... & More Word Wisdom

For there is no doubt that I have lots of words inside me; but at moments, like rush-hour traffic at the mouth of a tunnel, they jam.

  • John Updike, Self-Consciousness, 1989




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