So, I was reading the encyclopedia the other day when I stumbled across a...
Let's start that again.
So I was looking something up in the encyclopedia the other day, because I had to, not because I read encyclopedias for fun or anything, when I found something interesting in the Britannica online. A dictionary of quotations!!! I know awesome right? Well if you still need convincing then check this out:
"People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us" -Iris Murdoch
After reading oh... about 30, some of which were great and some of which were... to quote my old home-ec teacher: "just awful," I starting wondering about what makes a quote worth remembering. (Words from the wise, baking powder and baking soda are not interchangeable)
"You know everyone is ignorant, just on different subjects" - Will Rogers
The quotes in Britannica’s dictionary come from an interesting variety of sources. There are authors, comedians, tyrannical dictators, musicians, people I've never heard of so I don't know what they do, religious leaders and politicians. Some of them are funny, some of them not so funny, some are inspirational and some serve as warnings. In fact the only thing which seems to unify the quotes we choose to remember (or at least write down in gigantic quote dictionaries) is their ability to sum up a big idea, very succinctly and with style.
"The person who knows “how” will always have a job. The person who knows “why” will always be his boss." - Diane Ravitch
Great quotes are great to add into great essays to make them greater. Especially if you have trouble expressing an idea without using the same word four times in the same sentence. Quotations are also great if you have to write a speech and you need a little extra zing to emphasize your point.
"It is only the wisest and the very stupidest who cannot change" - Confucius
So the next time you're writing a paper, or a speech, or an ad for your used rollerblades on Craigslist check out the Merriam Webster's Dictionary of Notable quotations or one of the great quote books in our collection. You might find something you can use.