Quotes About Words And Their Meanings

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Quotes About Words And Their Meanings

Words, English words, are full of echoes, of memories, of associations. They have been out and about, on peoples lips, in their houses, in the streets, in the fields, for so many centuries. And that is one of the chief difficulties in writing them today that they are stored with other meanings, with other memories, and they have contracted so many famous marriages in the past.
— Virginia Woolf —

Rebecca was an academic star. Her new book was on the phenomenon of word casings, a term she'd invented for words that no longer had meaning outside quotation marks. English was full of these empty words
"friend" and "real" and "story" and "change"
words that had been shucked of their meanings and reduced to husks. Some, like "identity" and "search" and "cloud," had clearly been drained of life by their Web usage. With others, the reasons were more complex; how had "American" become an ironic term? How had "democracy" come to be used in an arch, mocking way?

— Jennifer Egan

That small word "Force," they make a barber's block,
Ready to put on
Meanings most strange and various, fit to shock
Pupils of Newton ...
The phrases of last century in this
Linger to play tricks
Vis viva and Vis Mortua and Vis Acceleratrix:
Those long-nebbed words that to our text books still
Cling by their titles,
And from them creep, as entozoa will,
Into our vitals.
But see! Tait writes in lucid symbols clear
One small equation;
And Force becomes of Energy a mere
Space-variation.

— James Clerk Maxwell

I pull The Book of Shhh onto my lap and flip through the pages. Even though the psalms and prayers are still familiar, the words look strange and their meanings are indecipherable: It's like returning somewhere you haven't been since you were a child, and finding everything smaller and disappointing.

— Lauren Oliver

:Paintings are easy to see," he said after a moment. "Open, presented flat to the eye. Words are not easy. Words have to be discovered, deep in their pages, deciphered, translated, read. Words are symbols to be encoded, their letters trees in a forest, enmeshed, their tangled meanings never finally picked apart.

— Catherine Fisher

He should have known better because, early in his learnings under his brother Mahmoud, he had discovered that long human words (the longer the better) were easy, unmistakable, and rarely changed their meanings . . . but short words were slippery, unpredictable, changing their meanings without any pattern. Or so he seemed to grok. Short human words were never like a short Martian word-such as "grok" which forever meant exactly the same thing. Short human words were like trying to lift water with a knife.

— Robert A. Heinlein

Now between the meanings of words and their sounds there is ordinarily no discoverable relation except one of accident; and it is therefore miraculous, to the mystic, when words which make sense can also make a uniform objective structure of accents and rhymes.

— John Crowe Ransom

Words change their meanings, just as organisms evolve. We would impose an enormous burden on our economy if we insisted on payment in cattle every time we identified a bonus as a pecuniary advantage (from the Latin pecus , or cattle, a verbal fossil from a former commercial reality).

— Stephen Jay Gould

Meanings receive their dignity from words instead of giving it to them.

— Blaise Pascal

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