All archives
Previous Issue (15 October 2004) | Current month | Next Issue (17 October 2004)

Quotes of the Day for 16 October 2004 – Words

Noah Webster was born at West Hartford, Connecticut on this day in 1758. He studied at Yale during the Revolution, but was unable to afford to go on to law school so he became a teacher. In 1783 he began a three-volume set of books for teaching English, the first was known as The Blue-Backed Speller and sold some 70 million copies. Starting with this project, Webster campaigned for a specific American language rendering plough as plow and colour as color. His first dictionary was published in 1806, his expanded second dictionary of 70,000 words took him 22 years to write, but was the largest dictionary in any language at the time. Webster collected more words than I've collected quotes, but I have plenty of quotes about Words.

Van's signature

The quotes:

I must use beautiful words, I never know when I might have to eat them.
     - Everett McKinley Dirksen, 1896 - 1969

When ideas fail, words come in very handy.
     - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749 - 1832

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
     - Mark Twain, 1835 - 1910

If you would be pungent, be brief; for it is with words as with sunbeams - the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.
     - Robert Southey, 1774 - 1843

Short words are best and the old words when short are best of all.
     - Winston Churchill, 1874 - 1965

The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that the English language is as pure as a crib-house whore. It not only borrows words from other languages; it has on occasion chased other languages down dark alley-ways, clubbed them unconscious and rifled their pockets for new vocabulary.
     - James Nicoll, 1846 - 1918

Do you see an error on this page? A typo, a character that is messed up, a misattribution? Please let us know!