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Words

  • Almost all words do have color and nothing is more pleasant than to utter a pink word and see someone's eyes light up and know it is a pink word for him or her too.

  • Words are the mind's wings, are they not?

  • Our words have wings, but fly not where we would.

  • Might, could, would — they are contemptible auxiliaries.

  • ... I love words; they are the quoits, the bows, the staves that furnish the gymnasium of the mind.

    • George Eliot,
    • 1841, in Gordon S. Haight, ed., The George Eliot Letters, vol. 1 ()
  • Words are my matter. I have chipped one stone / for thirty years and still it is not done, / that image of the thing I cannot see. / I cannot finish it and set it free, / transformed to energy.

  • The older I grow the more sharply I mistrust words. So few of them have any meaning left. It is impossible to write one sentence in which every word has the bareness and hardness of bones, the reality of the skeleton.

  • ... he had discovered the utter superfluousness of words: so many said — so little accomplished by them!

  • He could fling words across the room like knives.

  • Words are like spices. Too many is worse than too few.

  • Accuracy is the basis of style. Words dress our thoughts and should fit; and should fit not only in their utterances, but in their implications, their sequences, and their silences, just as in architecture the empty spaces are as important as those that are filled.

  • ... words are but drops pressed out of the lives of those who lived them.

  • ... every word calls up far more of a picture than its actual meaning is supposed to do, and the writer has to deal with all these silent associations as well as with the uttered significance.

    • Freya Stark,
    • "Saying What One Means," in The Cornhill Magazine ()
  • ... words are the only arteries of thought our poor human body possesses ...

    • Freya Stark,
    • "Decadence, or the Bed of Procrustes," The Arch of the Zodiac ()
  • Words are the most subtle symbols which we possess and our human fabric depends on them.

  • I love smooth words, like gold-enameled fish / Which circle slowly with a silken swish ...

    • Elinor Wylie,
    • "Pretty Words," in William Rose Benét, ed., Collected Poems of Elinor Wylie ()
  • Words shy and dappled, deep-eyed deer in herds, / Come to my hand, and playful if I wish ...

    • Elinor Wylie,
    • "Pretty Words," in William Rose Benét, ed., Collected Poems of Elinor Wylie ()
  • ... honeyed words like bees, / Gilded and sticky, with a little sting.

    • Elinor Wylie,
    • "Pretty Words," in William Rose Benét, ed., Collected Poems of Elinor Wylie ()
  • Damn words; they're just the pots and pans of life, the pails and scrubbing-brushes. I wish I didn't have to think in words ...

  • Words are anybody's / Equitable things, / ... / All within the public domain.

  • It is as dangerous for people unaccustomed to handling words and unacquainted with their technique to tinker about with these heavily-charged nuclei of emotional power as it would be for me to burst into a laboratory and play about with a powerful electromagnet or other machine highly charged with electrical force.

  • It takes a long time for words to become thought ...

    • May Sarton,
    • "Poet in Residence," The Lion and the Rose ()
  • Words are more powerful than perhaps anyone suspects, and once deeply engraved in a child's mind, they are not easily eradicated.

  • The more articulate one is, the more dangerous words become.

  • Words are my passion / And out of them and me / I would create beauty.

    • May Sarton,
    • "Creation" (1937), in Susan Sherman, ed., May Sarton: Among the Usual Days ()
  • Words move, turning over like tumbling clowns; like certain books and like fleas, they possess activity. All men equally have the right to say, 'This word shall bear this meaning,' and see if they can get it across. It is a sporting game, which all can play, only all cannot win.

  • If words are to change their meanings, as assuredly they are, let each user of language make such changes as please himself, put up his own suggestions, and let the best win.

  • Adjectives are the curse of America.

  • I believe every change any word has undergone probably originated in ignorance.

  • Some words / bedevil me.

  • You cannot tell the truth when words are corrupted. Our country was founded on the notion that the plain words of the people are more important than the fancy words of kings.

  • A word is the taste / our tongue has of eternity; / that's why I speak.

    • Rosario Castellanos,
    • "The Splendor of Being," in Magda Bogin, trans., The Selected Poems of Rosario Castellanos ()
  • Mama enjoyed bandying words. In fact, there was scarcely anything she enjoyed more. She made up words from scratch, by combining words, by turning them upside down, by running them backward. She built word palaces. Structures came out of her mouth like Steinberg pictures: wobbly, made of material fabricated on the spot, and no more useful than a poem.

  • A broken bone can heal, but the wound a word opens can fester forever.

  • You may choose your word like a connoisseur, / And polish it up with art, / But the word that sways, and stirs, and stays, / Is the word that comes from the heart.

  • An appreciation of words is so rare that everybody naturally thinks he possesses it, and this universal sentiment results in the misuse of a material whose beauty enriches the loving student beyond the dreams of avarice.

  • Words, like acts, become stale when they are repeated.

  • The unit of the poet is the word, the unit of the prose writer is the sentence.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • 1980, in David Rieff, ed., As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh ()
  • Words began fights and words ended them.

  • Be respectful of words. They mean something.

  • I have never learned to say 'gas' for gasoline. It seems to me as absurd as if I were to say 'but' for butter.

  • The way to recognize a dead word is that it exudes boredom.

  • A trite word is an overused word which has lost its identity like an old coat in a second-hand shop. The familiar grows dull and we no longer see, hear, or taste it.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1950, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 5 ()
  • I wanted to choose words that even you / would have to be changed by ...

  • Words have a love for each other, a desire that culminates in poetry.

  • Leaves are verbs that conjugate the seasons.

  • Labels not only free us from the obligation to think creatively; they numb our sensibilities, our power to feel. During the Vietnam War, the phrase body count entered our vocabulary. It is an ambiguous phrase, inorganic, even faintly sporty. It distanced us from the painful reality of corpses, of dead, mutilated people.

  • The language of labels is like paper money, issued irresponsibly, with nothing of intrinsic value behind it, that is, with no effort of the intelligence to see, to really apprehend.

  • Words are nets through which all truth escapes.

  • Be careful of words, / ... they can be both daisies and bruises.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Words," The Awful Rowing Toward God ()
  • Words and eggs must be handled with care. / Once broken they are impossible / things to repair.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Words," The Awful Rowing Toward God ()
  • There is nothing truly serious in life. All words sound hollow when one listens to them carefully.

  • Whatever its function, / like's not a conjunction.

  • A word is dead when it is said, some say. I say it just begins to live that day.

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • 1872, in Mabel Loomis Todd, ed., Letters of Emily Dickinson, vol. 2 ()
  • Look for verbs of muscle, adjectives of exactitude.

  • There are worse words than cuss words, there are words that hurt.

    • Tillie Olsen,
    • "Hey Sailor, What Ship?" Tell Me a Riddle ()
  • Words are seductive and dangerous material, to be used with caution.

  • From her earliest childhood words had always been to her what dolls and toys are to other children. ... a beautiful word or sentence had the same effect upon her imagination as a fragrant nosegay, a strain of music, or a brilliant sunset.

  • Falling in love on words / and ending in silence / with its double-meanings.

  • Words have their genealogy, their history, their economy, their literature, their art and music, as too they have their weddings and divorces, their successes and defeats, their fevers, their undiagnosable ailments, their sudden deaths. They also have their moral and social distinctions.

  • I cannot remember a time when I was not enraptured or tortured by words. Always there have been words which, sometimes for their sound alone, sometimes for their sound and sense, I would not use. From a loathing of their grossness or sickliness, their weight or want of weight. Their inexactitude, their feeling of acidity or insipidity. Their action, not only on the intelligence but on the nerves, was instant ...

  • Words are not simple things: they take unto themselves, as they have through time, power and meaning ...

  • A word may become so defiled by bad use that it will take a century before it can be purifed, and brought into use again.

    • Olive Schreiner,
    • 1884, in S.C. Cronwright-Schreiner, ed., The Letters of Olive Schreiner 1876-1920 ()
  • ... words are gas till you condense them into pictures.

  • It is not that i am playing word games, it is that the word games are there, being played, and i am calling attention to it.

  • Words are small shapes in the gorgeous chaos of the world.

  • ... I / fall into noisy abstraction, / cling to sound as if it were the last protection / against what I cannot name.

  • Words cause pain, they evoke anger, they make us hate, they lead us to war. But they also make us laugh, bring us joy, and satisfying our emotional hungers.

  • What new meaning might Freud's concept of 'penis envy' take on, if we consider the fact that in his lifetime the words 'clitoris,' 'vulva,' and 'labia' were not included in the dictionary and, in this country, the only word in Webster's dictionary for female genitalia was 'vagina'? Who decides what words are included in the dictionary and who decides what is real?

  • Her profession was words and she believed in them deeply. The articulation, interpretation, appreciation, and preservation of good words. She believed in their power. If you truly named something, you had that degree of control over it. Words could incite, soothe, destroy, exorcise, redeem.

  • Words can enhance experience, but they can also take so much away. We see an insect and at once we abstract certain characteristics and classify it — a fly. And in that very cognitive exercise, part of the wonder is gone. Once we have labeled the things around us we do not bother to look at them so carefully. Words are part of our rational selves, and to abandon them for a while is to give freer reign to our intuitive selves.

    • Jane Goodall,
    • in Jane Goodall with Phillip Berman, Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey ()
  • The attacks on old words and the coining of new are the visible tip of the iceberg of change.

    • Michelene Wandor,
    • "Feminist Fiction and Language," in Zoë Fairbairns et al., Tales I Tell My Mother ()
  • Words, words, / Ye are like birds. / Would I might fold you, / In my hands hold you / Till ye were warm and your feathers a-flutter; / Till, in your throats, / Tremulous notes / Foretold the songs ye would utter. / Words, words, / Ye are all birds! / Would ye might linger / Here on my finger, / Till I kissed each, and then set you a-winging / Wild, perfect flight, / Through morn to night, / Singing and singing and singing!

  • Words, my horses, roam unbroken / In my head, or, tethered, / Wait their wandering master's ride.

  • Words. They have always been the very stuff of my life. Lovely, shining words, in whose fire the tongue may burn and yet be unscarred; at whose trumpets the heart lifts to ecstasy or falls to hell; in whose colour, shape, and texture the mind sinks, drowned in beauty ...

  • Words can be like weapons of destruction: It takes so much effort, and the cooperation of so many people, to build something — and so little effort of so few to tear it down.

  • There are some words I find impossibly difficult ... 'Love,' 'feeling' and especially 'happiness' are at the head of the list. This is not because I haven't experienced any of them but because whenever I think about using the words I don't really know what anyone means by them. I'd find it easier to sit down and write a book about each (coming, obviously, to no conclusion) than to use them casually in speech or writing.

  • By men's words we know them.

    • Marie de France,
    • 12th cent., in Jeanette Beer, trans., Medieval Fables of Marie de France ()
  • The power of sonorous language is great, it goes to the gates of death.

    • Colette,
    • "Journal à rebours" (1941), Looking Backwards ()
  • Words can do wonderful things. They pound, purr. They can urge, they can wheedle, whip, whine. They can sing, sass, singe. They can churn, check, channelize. They can be a "Hup two three four." They can forge a fiery army of a hundred languid men.

  • ... the words! I collected them in all shapes and sizes, and hung them like bangles in my mind.

  • New words are always being born and old ones fading away.

  • Words were the only net to catch a mood, the only sure weapon against oblivion.

  • God wove a web of loveliness, / Of clouds and stars and birds, / But made not anything at all / So beautiful as words.

    • Anna H. Branch,
    • "Songs for My Mother: Her Words," The Shoes That Danced ()
  • I say that words are men and when we spell / In alphabets we deal with living things; / With feet and thighs and breasts, fierce heads, strong wings; / Maternal Powers, great Bridals, Heaven and Hell. / There is a menace in the tales we tell.

  • There is a loving way with words and an unloving way. And it is only with the loving way that the simplicity of language becomes beautiful.

  • To lovers of the long and intricate history of language the disuse and final death of certain words is a matter of regret. Yet every age bears witness to the inevitableness of such loss.

  • A word after a word after a word is power.

  • People never think about words, they only feel them.

  • Words are dangerous things.

  • Words are, quite simply, weapons. How a person or an act or a thought looks depends entirely upon how — and by whom — it is described.

  • We must use words as they are used, or stand aside from life.

  • For me words still possess their primitive, mystical, incantatory powers. I am inclined to use them as part of an attempt to make my own reality more real for others, as part of an effort to transcend emotional danger. For me, words are a form of action, capable of influencing change. Their articulation represents a complete, lived experience.

  • Words are sometimes sensitive instruments of precision with which delicate operations may be performed and swift, elusive truths may be touched; often they are clumsy tools with which we grope in the dark toward truths more inaccessible but no less significant.

  • You can taste a word. That's food for thought.

  • The truth that could be extracted from words was such a fluctuating, relative truth.

  • Today at school I wrote an essay about Flag Day which was so beautiful, but ever so beautiful — for I even used words without really knowing what they meant.

  • Peoples of the earth, / do not destroy the universe of words, / ... / O that no one mean death when he says life — / and not blood when he speaks cradle ...

    • Nelly Sachs,
    • "Peoples of the earth," O the Chimneys ()
  • And the words loved me and I loved them in return.

  • hiss panicsss / as in from Hispania? / where's that? / non-existent country / non-existent people / no history or geography / no tongue to speak / of struggle.

  • Nude is a word as smoooth as your hips ... but naked has the sound of a rock being turned over to expose maggots.

  • Call me an alarmist, but there are certain words I don't like to hear together: cheap fireplace, discount brakes, cut-rate surgery ...

  • Words. Frail beasts of burden that crashed down to their knees under what she wanted to say.

  • Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.

  • I was a word lapidary, interested not so much in their values as in their colors. Ruby was a word that glowed. Serene was like a pearl.

  • Our emotions are ever-changing and infinitely varied, but the words with which we describe them are fixed and rigid. Our life is like quicksilver, our vocabulary like steel. Sometimes a consummate poet succeeds in rendering the quality of life in words. For the rest of us, this is not possible.

  • Nouns and verbs are almost pure metal; adjectives are cheaper ore.

  • All books are either dreams or swords, / You can cut, or you can drug, with words.

    • Amy Lowell,
    • title poem, Sword Blades and Poppy Seed ()
  • I have been a believer in the magic of language since, at a very early age, I discovered that some words got me into trouble and others got me out ...

  • The primary function of the creative use of language — in our age — is to try to constantly restore words to their meanings, to keep the living tissue of responsibility alive.

  • Words are name tags which save us the trouble of thinking about the objects or ideas which they represent. Here exactly lies their capacity for mischief.

  • The sun of every day will bleach / The costliest purple hue, / And so our common daily speech / Discolors what was true.

  • Words can destroy. What we call each other ultimately becomes what we think of each other, and it matters.

  • ... words are a lens to focus one's mind ...

  • Words are shadows of things.

  • All words, anyway / are epitaphs.

  • I am an ordinary human being who is impelled to write poetry. ... I still do feel that a poet has a duty to words, and that words can do wonderful things, and it's too bad to just let them lie there without doing anything with and for them.

    • Gwendolyn Brooks,
    • "Interviews: March 29, 1969," Report From Part One: An Autobiography ()
  • One must be chary of words because they turn into cages.

  • Slogans let the ignorant think they understand what's going on.

    • Esther Blumenfeld,
    • in Lynne Alpern and Esther Blumenfeld, Oh, Lord, I Sound Just Like Mama ()
  • The words were living things to her. She sensed them bestriding the air and charging the room with strong colors.

  • A word is no light matter. Words have with truth been called fossil poetry, each, that is, a symbol of a creative thought.

  • Words themselves are the intimate attire of thoughts and feelings.

  • ... that mother of all ambivalencies: 'whatever' ...

    • Cat Thompson,
    • "The Power of Language" Experience Life ()
  • In medicine as in statecraft and propaganda, words are sometimes the most powerful drugs we can use.

  • And now we come to the magic of words. A word, also, just like an idea, a thought, has the effect of reality upon undifferentiated minds.

    • Emma Jung,
    • "On the Nature of the Animus" (1931), Animus and Anima ()
  • Words are to be taken seriously. I try to take seriously acts of language. Words set things in motion. I've seen them doing it. Words set up atmospheres, electrical fields, charges.

  • Words, once they're printed, have a life of their own.

  • The word is a flame burning in a dark glass.

  • ... in a ward on fire, we must / find words / or burn.

  • We are all so clumsy, my dear, and words are all we have, poor signals like bonfires and flags trying to express what shipwreck is.

    • Rose Wilder Lane,
    • 1927, in William Holtz, ed., Dorothy Thompson and Rose Wilder Lane: Forty Years of Friendship ()
  • You tell those newspaper people that they may be smart, but I'm smarter. They deal with words. Some folks say that words were made to reveal thoughts. That ain't so. Words were made to conceal thoughts.

  • I like good strong words that mean something.

  • Words are cold and formal things.

    • Harriet Hosmer,
    • in Cornelia Carr, ed., Harriet Hosmer: Letters and Memories ()
  • ... what we call things matters. ... The words we use, and how we perceive those words, reflect how we value, or devalue, people, places, and things.

  • The words we use are symbolic of the values we hold.

  • Words are always poor things. One only uses them because one has nothing else.