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Quotes of the Day for 19 April 2004 – Words

The last "fascicle" of the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary was published on this day in 1928, over 100 of these instalments had been released since the first one went to press in 1884, the work of six editors and hundreds of contributors, including J.R.R. Tolkien and one murderer who mailed his work in from an asylum for the criminally insane. The OED attempts to record every word ever printed in English, including quotes to document early uses for each meaning - their collection includes 2.5 million quotes, making my 23,000 seem insignificant. Here are a few thoughts on the importance of Words.

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The quotes:

The investigation of the meaning of words is the beginning of education.
     - Antisthenes

What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? ... for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence and there are so many silences to be broken.
     - Audre Lorde, 1934 - 1992

Once you've gotten the meaning, you can forget the words.
     - Chuang Tzu, 369 - 286 BC

But words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling like dew, upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.
     - George Gordon Noel Byron, 1788 - 1824

No man means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.
     - Henry Brooks Adams, 1838 - 1918

Words are chameleons, which reflect the color of their environment.
     - Learned Hand, 1872 - 1961


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