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Not being particularly adept at using Google's Ngram viewer, I put the two words (quotes and quotations) into the viewer and it displayed a result, with the two lines staying pretty close together until late in the 20th century. Then I thought to myself, "Does Ngram 'know' that I want it to compare two nouns as opposed to one verb and one noun?" (You know, apple to apple, orange to orange.)

At any rate, I've always preferred using quotes as a verb and quotations as a noun, but I seem to be in a minority nowadays, with most folks considering the two words to be synonyms.

My questions are, then:

  1. When did quotes (as in "My favorite 'quotes' are from Mark Twain"), begin to replace quotations (as in "My favorite 'quotations' are from Mark Twain") in AE and/or BE?

  2. Should I just "go with the flow" and adapt to the change? (If I do not, I have a feeling I'll remain in the company of a very small minority and be considered a nitpicker by the majority!)

  3. Did Ngram do what I expected it to do, treating as nouns both quotes and quotations?

  • 1
    Here is a better Ngram: if you use "the quote", it will only pick out nouns (although it won't distinguish the meanings "quotation" and "estimate"). – Peter Shor Aug 1 '13 at 18:11
  • @PeterShor: Thank you very much for the tip; I'll use it the next time I go to Ngram Viewer! – rhetorician Aug 1 '13 at 18:17
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    I wouldn't say that the noun "quotation" was replaced with the verb "quote", as your question states. I believe it is a simple case of clipping, or abbreviating, like exam, from examination. – Moss Aug 2 '13 at 2:54
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    You can specify parts of speech in an ngram by adding suffix to your search term: quotation_NOUN, quote_NOUN. – Bradd Szonye Aug 2 '13 at 6:33
  • In all research, how do you distinguish between the nouns "quote", the matter quoted, and "quote" the quotation mark? "Always remember to put your quotes in quotes." – Kris Aug 2 '13 at 7:13
3

I am assuming you mean quote and quotation as "a quoted passage" (rather than a "price").

When? The Oxford English Dictionary has some...

1888 Pall Mall Gaz. 12 Dec. 11/2 Stodgy ‘quotes’ from the ancients?

so in 1888 it was in quotes (haha).

1922 T. S. Eliot Let. ?Jan. in E. Pound Lett. (1951) 236 Do you mean not use the Conrad quote or simply not put Conrad's name to it?

and in 1922 it wasn't.

  • Yes, I do mean "a quoted passage." I didn't even think of the other meaning of quotation. That makes me wonder, though, if "giving a quote"(of a price) is used interchangeably with "giving a quotation" (of a price). Thank you, by the way, for your good information. – rhetorician Aug 1 '13 at 18:22
  • In my experience "price quote" is much more common in speaking than "price quotation". The actual document delivered might have the title "Quotation", but using the whole word in other situations would be very formal usage (which, of course, a salesperson might use with some customers). – The Photon Aug 1 '13 at 18:52
  • @ThePhoton: Good point. I feel comfortable using "quote" as shorthand for a price quotation, but substituting "quotation" with "quote," not so much. – rhetorician Aug 2 '13 at 1:56
2

quote n.
1. Informal A quotation.
2. A quotation mark.
3. Used by a speaker to indicate the beginning of a quotation.
4. A dictum; a saying.

Per TFD above, quote in the sense of "quotation" is informal.
In formal use, the primary sense of quote is "a quotation mark."

Per the OED, both AmE & BrE:

1a quotation from a text or speech: a quote from Wordsworth
4/ 3 (quotes) quotation marks: use double quotes around precise phrases you wish to search for

It doesn't quite look like an Americanism.

1

I did a search for "a quote" vs "a quotation":

enter image description here

and "in quotes" vs "in quotations":

enter image description here

These should be guaranteed nouns. The first search would include price quotes, but I think the second one is less likely to. As you can see, the shorter form has been gaining in preference over the last century, with increasing momentum, except in the case of "in quotes" it plateaued starting in the 90s. If you compare to the British corpus you can see that it is more of an American trend.

Should I just "go with the flow" and adapt to the change? (If I do not, I have a feeling I'll remain in the company of a very small minority and be considered a nitpicker by the majority!)

Yes. Well, according to these ngrams (not sure how much you can really derive from them), you will still be fully understood and perhaps even in the majority in some contexts, for now, if you use the longer form. But there is no sense getting annoyed by other people speaking differently. Languages change.

Did Ngram do what I expected it to do, treating as nouns both quotes and quotations?

No. It doesn't do any advanced reasoning for you, it just searches for the words you type.

  • Thank you for your research; I appreciate it! You gave me the idea of trying "some quotes" and "some quotations" in Ngram. – rhetorician Aug 2 '13 at 5:38

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