It can't simply be that the word "quote" seems more formal than "saying" can it?

  • If someone famous said it, and it's good, it's a quotation. If you or I said it, it's a quote.
    – Robusto
    Jul 18, 2011 at 20:21
  • I would love to be able to use that as a steadfast rule, but for starters the terms "famous" and "good" are entirely too subjective to rely upon. Do you think Justin Bieber says "good" things? If not, I can guarantee a million adolescent girls out there would beg to differ with you. :)
    – Rachel
    Jul 18, 2011 at 20:25
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    Please provide further context. Otherwise it's a general reference question. Quote, quotation, saying.
    – RegDwigнt
    Jul 18, 2011 at 20:39
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    I do not believe I have ever heard "You know how the old quotation goes." The rest of that sentence implies a proverbial phrase rather than an attributed quotation, and as The Raven points out below, that seems more in line with "saying". Google backs up this assertion, with saying vs. quotation. Edit: Oh dear, it seems as if my second link has gone meta. Jul 18, 2011 at 20:52
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    I have never heard it used in that way either @kpsfire, but decided to throw it out there anyway due to my burning desire to rectify my missing contextual explanation as soon as possible. I hoped most people would understand what I was trying to (rather roughly, I agree) communicate.
    – Rachel
    Jul 18, 2011 at 21:01

1 Answer 1


For what it's worth, "quote" and "quotation" are not strictly synonyms. Although interchangeable in popular use, "quotation" is a noun and "quote" is a verb.1 The shortening to "quote" has become more common and (dare I say it) accepted, but for the nitpicky among us "quotation" is still the only acceptable noun.

In response to your question: a saying is generally pithier, concerned with a single kernel of wisdom, and is not necessarily attributable to a single person, piece of literature, or entity.2 A quotation, in comparison, is almost always attributed and is not expressly focused on a kernel of wisdom.

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    Excellent answer. A "saying" is basically the same as an aphorism, an adage, and in some cases a proverb.
    – The Raven
    Jul 18, 2011 at 20:42
  • Thank you so much for the clear and concise answer. Definitely what I was looking for!
    – Rachel
    Jul 18, 2011 at 20:48
  • As for my being nitpicky when it comes to using quote strictly as a verb: mea culpa. People's use of "quote" as a noun jangles my nerves, but then we all have our hobby-horse words, don't we? Aug 12, 2013 at 13:24

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