Dictionary Quotes

Most popular dictionary quotes

Lexicographer—A writer of dictionaries, a harmless drudge.


A Dictionary is an historical monument, the history of a nation.
A dictionary without quotations is like a table of contents without a book.
Words fascinate me.  They always have. For me, browsing in a dictionary is like being turned loose in a bank.
Dictionaries are like watches: the worst is better than none, and the best cannot be expected to go quite true.
A word in a dictionary is very much like a car in a mammoth motorshow—full of potential, but temporarily inactive.


Dictionary, n.  A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic.
Modern dictionaries are pusillanimous works, preferring to record what has been done than to say what ought to be done.
Well, a friend of mine says the trouble with the dictionary is that you have to know how a word is spelled before you can look it up to see how it is spelled.
A dictionary...is full of suggestions—the raw material of possible poems and histories.  Nothing is wanting but a little shuffling, sorting, ligature, and cartilage.
The process of creating a dictionary is magical, frustrating, brain wrenching, mundane, transcendent. It is ultimately a show of love for a language that has been called unlovely and unlovable.
Here's a book full of words; one can choose as he fancies,
As a painter his tint, as a workman his tool;
Just think! all the poems and plays and romances
Were drawn out of this, like the fish from a pool!
I like to say that dictionaries are the vodka of literature.  We take the wheat and the rye and the potatoes—we take really meaty things—and we make it into something that's odorless, colorless, tasteless, but really powerful.
It is the fate of those who toil at the lower employments of life, to be rather driven by the fear of evil, than attracted by the prospect of good; to be exposed to censure, without hope of praise; to be disgraced by miscarriage, or punished for neglect, where success would have been without applause, and diligence without reward. Among these unhappy mortals is the writer of dictionaries.