Words Matter

Favorite Quotations About Words, Vol. 1

A Kiss is a Lovely Trick, & More
Last Updated: 13 Apr 2022

favorite quotations about words vol 1 lightning
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 long words

'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

MORE TO EXPLORE: Unusually Long English Words

james baldwin standing in front of shakespeare statue
Photo: Allan Warren

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was Dostoevsky and Dickens who taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who ever had been alive. Only if we face these open wounds in ourselves can we understand them in other people.
— James Baldwin, interviewed in LIFE, 24 May 1963

favorite quotations about words vol 1 limits of my language

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

favorite quotations about words vol 1 wit

Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.
— Dorothy Parker, interview in Paris Review, 1956

favorite quotations about words vol 1 the smallest ideas

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

favorite quotations about words vol 1 invisible ink

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

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.
— Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood, 1987

favorite quotations about words vol 1 clear language

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

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

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Photo: Nikolas Coukouma / Creative Commons "Attribution Share-Alike" 2.5 License

I was attracted to science fiction because it was so wide open. I was able to do anything and there were no walls to hem you in and there was no human condition that you were stopped from examining.
— Octavia Butler, interviewed in The Indypendent, 13 Jan. 2006

favorite quotations about words vol 1 nouns and verbs

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)

favorite quotations about words vol 1 rush hour trafic

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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