For example, for the original quote we shall use, "One swallow does not a summer make". If someone were to say "One good quote does not a philosopher make" (No dig at Aristotle intended...), or "A fancy suit does not a businessman make".

Essentially, a clear allusion to a quote, but not the quote itself.

  • You mean other than "plagiarism"? ;)
    – haha
    Dec 9 '15 at 17:22
  • 2
    Thanks all. I was thinking "paraphrasing", but I felt like paraphrasing was essentially shortening a quote to get the original point across in less/simpler words, while keeping the meaning and context the same. Thank you for the definitions to clarify my understanding. Dec 9 '15 at 17:27

The word I've heard used for this on the linguistics blog Language Log is snowclone (it's derived from phrases of the format "If Eskimos have N words for snow, X surely have Y words for Z.")

Here's a Language Log post that describes the moment the word was coined and that links to some examples: Snowclones: Lexicographical Dating to the Second

And here's how it's defined by Collins Dictionaries online:

a verbal formula that is adapted for reuse by changing only a few words so that the allusion to the original phrase remains clear

You might also be interested in looking at the answers to the following questions:

  • Interesting, is it just a noun or also a verb?
    – user66974
    Dec 9 '15 at 17:30
  • The mother of all neologisms. The new crash blossom.
    – choster
    Dec 9 '15 at 17:30
  • Thanks for this. Some fascinating reading here and I'll definitely be using the word "snowclone" in general conversation. Dec 9 '15 at 17:32
  • @Josh61: I've only seen it used as a noun.
    – herisson
    Dec 9 '15 at 17:33
  • 3
    @sumelic All nouns can be verbed. :) Dec 10 '15 at 5:19

I think you are looking for 'to paraphrase':

  • The adaptation or alteration of a text or quotation to serve a different purpose from that of the original.



"Paraphrasing" was already offered, so I'll suggest something more colorful like "hijacking" or "co-opting".

  • To "reword" or to "bastardise" are also available. Dec 10 '15 at 5:50

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