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Quote as noun

I was taught that "quote" is a verb and "quotation" is the corresponding noun. Of course, "quote" is often used as a noun, but to me this has always been incorrect.
But suggests that it is acceptable to use "quote" as a noun and gives several examples (which don't look correct to me). Has the usage changed, or have I been mistaken for all these years?


  • You were taught a lie, @Illeffor1993

    In fact there were two lies: the first was that there are laws which govern what words can mean; the second was that people like teachers have the authority to enforce these laws.

    These lies ignore the nature of language, and the nature of words within language.

    Language is a vehicle of communication. It allows us to share meanings. Particular words allow us to share particular meanings. A word succeeds in this if both speakers and hearers — and both writers and readers — understand the same meaning for that word.

    To discover the meaning of a word, we need to observe how that word is used. If it is used and understood widely with a certain meaning then that is the meaning of the word (or one of its meanings).

    You write

    Of course, "quote" is often used as a noun

    Then it is a noun sometimes. That's how language works.

    The only way it could be 'incorrect' is if the only people using it as a noun were a small group with a private language. Or, of course, it would be incorrect the appropriate word was something like kite or coat or choir, and the speaker was tired or drunk or learning English as a small child or as a foreigner.

    If quote is often used as a noun, then it isn't an invention within a private group. But could it be a new fashion or a rarity spoken by a small minority? That's the sort of question that dictionaries exist to answer.

    Dictionaries report of how words are actually used to communicate meanings. Good dictionaries have always been based on evidence, and good modern dictionaries use computer power to examine millions and millions of words to find the evidence.

    The dictionary you cite is an excellent example of a modern popular dictionary based on the huge research project which maintains the parent Oxford English Dictionary. Because it's a popular dictionary, you can be sure that the meanings they give are in popular use. They can't be 'incorrect' any more than they can be 'purple' or 'musica'l or 'hungry'. They are what they are. They are observed and reported facts.

    You characterise the evidence as 'several examples'. In fact there are

    • over twenty examples of quote used to mean

      A quotation from a text or speech.

    • over twenty examples of quote used to mean

      A quotation giving the estimated cost for a particular job or service.

    • six examples of quote meaning

      (Stock Market) A price offered by a market-maker for the sale or purchase of a stock or other security.

    • Five examples of quote used to mean

      A quotation or listing of a company on a stock exchange.

    • Five examples of quotes used to mean

      Quotation marks.

      Every single example has been chosen as typical of the way quote is used in that particular sense. They don't identify the sources — we have to take it on trust that they are authentic and typical.

    By contrast, Collins get their computer to select examples at random from the database of evidence, and tell us where they found them. A list was generated for quote as a noun and quote as a verb. Here is a pasted copy of the list, but with the noun examples only — i.e with the verb examples deleted.

    It is worth ringing a few chemists to get a quote.
    Times, Sunday Times (2016)

    You were asked to get two quotes to get the door replaced, which you duly did.
    The Sun (2016)

    The longer-term plans are for the next three to five years and the couple have yet to find quotes for the work.
    Times, Sunday Times (2016)

    Yet it did find it rather amusing to spot the following quote from him in OK!
    Times, Sunday Times (2016)

    That toothless quote has inflicted great damage on the deeply unpopular president.
    Times, Sunday Times (2014)

    Get a quote with and without insurance and get it in writing.
    Times, Sunday Times (2011)

    We could then feed that back into the business so we can better quote for jobs.
    Times, Sunday Times (2014)

    New applicants also have to show they have quotes for the measures they plan to install.
    Times, Sunday Times (2014)

    Ask for a few quotes and follow up personal recommendations.
    Times, Sunday Times (2006)

    It had been a quoted company in its own right.
    Times, Sunday Times (2012)

    Average call will be one minute for one stock quote.
    The Sun (2015)

    Winners must provide quotes for work and proof they have the right to make the improvements before receiving prize.
    The Sun (2008)

    The collection already includes quotes and lyrics from her dad JAY-Z.
    The Sun (2012)

    To be fair, that is a great quote.
    The Sun (2014)

    He learnt these long quotes that I already knew.
    Times, Sunday Times (2010)

    There's a different sort of evidence in the OED — the enormous scholarly dictionary that is parent to popular Oxford dictionaries. It tells us the history of the use of quote as a noun.

    1. In the seventeenth century it was used to mean a marginal annotation
    2. From the late nineteenth century it has been used to mean a 'a quoted passage or remark', and also to mean 'a quotation mark'.
    3. From 1934 (if not earlier) it has used to mean quotation in the sense

    An amount stated as the price of a stock or of any commodity for sale. Also: a contractor's stated price for a particular job.

    This historical evidence suggests that not only were you lied to by your teachers, but your teachers were previously lied to by their teachers.

    OK, they probably believed that they were teaching the truth. But they weren't.

  • Here's another definition, this time from a dictionary for foreign learners that selects only the most frequently used words and the most frequently used word meanings.

    After three sense of quote as a verb, Collins COBUILD lists

    4 a quote is 4.1 a phrase or passage from a book, poem, play, etc. EG A short quote from the Oration... . T_hey have a lot of good quotes about organisation in that book_. 4.2 the price that someone says they would charge you to do a particular piece of work EG They accepted this high quote without argument. Try getting a quote from a caterer for a really big party.
    5 Quotes are, in informal English, quotation marks.

    I know that the examples are genuine — i.e. not invented to show how the word is used. I believe the same is true of the examples in the Oxford online dictionary.

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