personal written record with discrete entries arranged by date
This article is about a journal or notebook. For the Chuck Palahniuk novel, see Diary (novel).

A diary (sometimes referred to as journal or notebook) is a record with discrete entries arranged by date reporting on what has happened over the course of a day or other period.


  • The diary ... is the unfathomable document of a life never lived, the book of a life in whose time everything that we experienced inadequately is transformed into experience perfected.
    • Walter Benjamin, "The Metaphysics of Youth," in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Vol. 1 (1996), p. 11
  • DIARY, n. A daily record of that part of one's life, which he can relate to himself without blushing.
    • Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
  • For practical rules for the culture of the intellect perhaps none can be given that are good for all but there are two expedients that may do such good service to very many young men that I will venture to name them.
One is, sit alone. In your arrangements for your residence see that you have a chamber to yourself, though you sell your coat and wear a blanket.
The other is, keep a journal. Pay so much honor to the visits of Truth to your mind as to record those thoughts that have shone therein. I suppose every lover of truth would find his account in it if he never had two related thoughts without putting them down. It is not for what is recorded, though that may be the agreeable entertainment of later years, and the pleasant remembrances of what we were, but for the habit of rendering account to yourself of yourself in some more rigorous manner and at more certain intervals than mere conversation or casual reverie of solitude require.
  • If your journal consists of the best moments of your life and reading, then rereading it will be like walking a high mountain trail that goes from peak to peak without the intervening descent into the trough of routine. Just reading such a journal of high points will tighten your strings and raise your pitch.
  • The longer I live, the more urgent it seems to me to endure and transcribe the whole dictation of existence up to its end, for it might just be the case that only the very last sentence contains that small and possibly inconspicuous word through which everything we had struggled to learn and everything we had failed to understand will be transformed suddenly into magnificent sense.
    • Rainer Maria Rilke, letter to Ilse Erdmann, 21 December 1913, in Letters on Life, U. Baer, trans. (2007)
  • When events and circumstances which have influenced us pass away in the course of time, we are unable to bring back and renew the particular mood or state of feeling which they aroused in us: but we can remember what we were led to say and do in regard to them; and thus form, as it were, the result, expression and measure of those events. We should, therefore, be careful to preserve the memory of our thoughts at important points in our life; and herein lies the great advantage of keeping a journal.
  • When Boswell confessed to Johnson that he feared some things he was entering in his journal were too small, the latter advised him that nothing is too small for so small a creature as man.
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