Wikiquote:Reference desk/Archive/3

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"You are always alone. But you are only lonely if you do not like the person you are alone with"


Has anyone come across this quote. I vaguely remember it being attributed to either Socrates or Plato, but I am not sure if the attribution was reliable. Don't even remember where I came across this. I have added this to Solitude under Unknown. Thanks. Shushruth 05:06, 30 October 2006 (UTC)[reply]

God hides himself from the man who examines him, but reveals himself to the man who seeks him.


I heard this quote in a classroom years ago, so I may not have the wording just right. The speaker attributed the words to Blaise Pascal, but I can't find it searching his works (or anywhere else, for that matter). Does this quote, inaccurate as it might be, ring a memory bell for anyone? -- 07:11, 20 November 2006 (UTC)[reply]

That sounds like a passage from Pascal's Pensées which you can read here. In the original it reads "Il est vrai que Dieu se cache à ceux qui le tentent, et qu'il se découvre à ceux qui le cherche". That translates as "It is true that God hides himself from those who tempt him, and that he reveals himself to those who seek him". Antiquary 20:47, 20 November 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Thanks! I am thrilled! I have been trying to verify that quotation for 30 years. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 10:00, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

Concealment through candor to insure duplicity with honor


This was originally created as its own page by

"Concealment through candor to insure duplicity with honor," does any one know where this quote comes from?

I've moved it to here and left a message for the user. —LrdChaos (talk) 23:51, 28 November 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Google Book suggests that something of the kind is in Saul Bellow's Humboldt's Gift. Page 303 of the 487-page Penguin edition, seemingly. Anyone here got a copy? Antiquary 19:04, 29 November 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Amazon search inside is good for when Google does not put out, Unfortunately you have to have bought something from amazon to use it.
The method practiced is concealment through candor to guarantee duplicity with honor. (pp303-304) MeltBanana 20:58, 29 November 2006 (UTC)[reply]

The Bronx is up and the Battery's down.


What is the origin and meaning of this phrase - particularly the meaning, please. —This unsigned comment is by Nosnibor (talkcontribs) .

It comes from a song (I think actually from a musical, but I don't know the title). In the Manhattan directional system, north is "up" (away from the original settlement) and south is "down" (towards the original settlement, now referred to as "downtown"). The Battery is at the southern tip of Manhattan. The bit about the Bronx is a bit of a fudge, since the Bronx is on the mainland, but it is certainly true that most of the Bronx is to the north (but also east) of most of Manhattan.
Ah, here's the reference (thanks, Wikipedia!): New York, New York (On The Town). 121a0012 02:16, 7 December 2006 (UTC)[reply]

The whole nine yards


I had actually learned that this was the measure of a length of cloth on a spool, and when dress-makers wished to take the entire spool, rather than just a cut from the length, they would take "the whole nine yards."

The whole nine yards is the length of belted .50 calibre bullets carried by a B52 per machine gun.

What does the term "the whole nine yards" refer to, & what was its origin?-- 01:40, 8 December 2006 (UTC)[reply]

This question has been heavily researched by many people without uncovering any conclusive evidence. It does not appear to be a quotation of anyone or anything in particular, which would be Wikiquote's specialty. 121a0012 02:30, 8 December 2006 (UTC)[reply]

The Invasion Song


I am searching for the lyrics of "the Invasion song" that was a song on the warner bros. cartoon "Histeria". —The preceding unsigned comment was originally posted in a (now deleted) article by (talk · contributions) at 10:54, 22 December 2006 (UTC)[reply]

I can't vouch for the accuracy, but check out "The Invasion Song" at Encyclopedia Histeria!. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 20:23, 22 December 2006 (UTC)[reply]



Who said "Change is inevitable"?

Pretty much everybody, I'd say. ☺ Seriously, I see that Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989) has Benjamin Disraeli saying:
  • In a progressive country change is constant; … change … is inevitable. [1]
    • October 29, 1867 speech on the Reform Bill of 1867
    • Quoted in T. E. Kebbel, ed., ed (1882). Selected Speeches of the Late Right Honourable the Earl of Beaconsfield, vol. 2, part 4. pp. p. 487. 
I'm afraid I don't know what the ellipses omit, why RQ feels that this is an appropriate citation for the phrase "change is inevitable", or whether there are earlier or more precise instances. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 01:55, 21 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]
The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, citing The Times of 30th October 1867, has Disraeli saying in a speech at Edinburgh on the previous day, "Change is inevitable in a progressive country. Change is constant." So that is a precise instance, in spite of Respectfully Quoted's ellipses. I've found some earlier ones, though I wouldn't ever claim to have traced a truism back to its source:

"Such persons have frequently been found to shut their eyes against the plainest truths, to wrestle with their own convictions, and positively refuse even to listen to evidence. The same thing may happen with regard to education;— and this is no pleasing prospect to the lover of peace, who sets himself forward as a reformer in this noble work,— Change is inevitable. Teaching is an art; and it must, like all the other arts, depend for its improvement upon the investigations of science." James Gall A Practical Enquiry into the Philosophy of Education (1840) p. 15.

"Now we find it frequently happens, that human laws require to be altered, amended, or changed: sometimes they are diminished; sometimes they are added to; change is inevitable to them, because those, who compose them, having only human foresight, do not discover at once the inconvenience which may at a future day arise from the enactment of some of them." Isaac Jaquelot (trans. Wilhelmina Antoinette Bingham) A Treatise on the Truth and Inspiration of the Old and New Testament (1829) p. 67.

"Every thing is subject to change: why not therefore to improvement? That change is inevitable there are proofs look where you will: that which is called innovation must consequently be indispensible". Thomas Holcroft The Adventures of Hugh Trevor Vol. 5 (1797) p. 25.
Antiquary 10:54, 21 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]
"Whoever said it never used a slot machine."

Paraphrase: "Knock at the door... they come for you (came for me) in the night."


What is the whole quote and by whom?? I've been trying to find the entire quotation from only my scant memory of how it goes. I believe it is quoted from a poem. I thought it was from T.S. Elliot. I recall this is a beautifully poignant and meaningful quotation as it may relate to the holocaust or the tyranny of fascism that is allowed to happen, one by one, to one's neighbors, not speaking a word in defense or acting in opposition, until "they come for me in the night(and nobody was left to defend me or speak in my defense)". I believe the origin of this quote came after WWII, either describing Nazi fascism or perhaps Stalinist communism. A parallel expression is this quote: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing", Edmund Burke. -- 07:06, 26 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]

I don't know if this is what you're thinking of:
When the Nazis arrested the Communists, I said nothing; after all, I was not a Communist. When they locked up the Social Democrats, I said nothing; after all, I was not a Social Democrat. When they arrested the trade unionists, I said nothing; after all, I was not a trade unionist. When they arrested me, there was no longer anyone who could protest.
That's by Martin Niemöller, and you'll find a discussion of its various forms here and here.
Incidentally, the attribution of your second quotation to Edmund Burke, though widely made, has never been proved. Antiquary 18:24, 26 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]

"If you wish to converse with me, define your terms"


Voltaire? Is the "terms" here conditions for conversing, or definitions of words that were be used in the conversation? Thanks! 15:30, 1 February 2007 (UTC)[reply]

This is why taking quotes out of context Is often a bad idea. I can't find this exact quote but this comes from the section on miricles in the w:Dictionnaire philosophique "Define your terms, you will permit me again to say, or we shall never understand one another.…Miracle, something admirable; prodigy, implying something astonishing; portentous, bearing with it novelty; monster, something to show (à montrer) on account of its variety." So it seems he means the definition of words not conditions. BTW he elsewhere says the advice is from John Locke. MeltBanana 15:55, 2 February 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks, I wonder if the quote I knew of is just a loose paraphrase from the one you identified. It would be nice to source it to Locke too, in whatever form it may take. You are a fine upstanding banana, melting or not! 02:21, 3 February 2007 (UTC)[reply]
A paraphrase it may be, but I doubt whether there is any source for this supposed Voltaire quotation other than the one MeltBanana has given. I'll take a stab at locating the Locke original:
The names of simple ideas are not capable of any definition; the names of all complex ideas are. It has not, that I know, been yet observed by anybody what words are, and what are not, capable of being defined; the want whereof is (as I am apt to think) not seldom the occasion of great wrangling and obscurity in men's discourses, whilst some demand definitions of terms that cannot be defined; and others think they ought not to rest satisfied in an explication made by a more general word, and its restriction, (or to speak in terms of art, by a genus and difference), when, even after such definition, made according to rule, those who hear it have often no more a clear conception of the meaning of the word than they had before.
w:An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689) Book III, chapter 4. Antiquary 11:04, 3 February 2007 (UTC)[reply]

I studied both Locke and Voltaire, but many years ago. I remembered the quote as "If you would converse with me, you must first define your terms." I remember it as being Voltaire's. I liked it precisely for the lawyerly pedantry and double meaning... but then, I've always been a "wordgeek" - Rowena Cherry

I thought it was Socrates' statement in one of Plato's works. 19:00, 26 April 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Laurence Sterne quote?


Is the quote:

"Failures, whims And inconsistencies do divert me. I enjoy them whenever I can."

a Laurence Sterne quote? If not, who wrote it and in what book?

My second year university English professor told me it back in the early 80's. He thought it pretty well summed me up at the time.

Please help.

Thanks -—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) February 23, 2007 at 22:11 (UTC)

"Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can."

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, ch. XI (spoken by Elizabeth Bennet) - InvisibleSun 22:27, 23 February 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Tommorow unchangeable future uncertain


I remember reading a quote that went along the lines of this or similar to: 'Tommorow is unchangeable, the future uncertain, so live for today.' I don't think those are the exact words though. —This unsigned comment is by (talkcontribs) .

The epigrammatist Martial wrote "Tomorrow's life is too late, live for today" (reference on his page). Was this it? Fys. “Ta fys aym”. 18:38, 25 February 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Hanging indent for character quote


I think they're called hanging indents.

I just added a quote from a character in a movie. I added the bullet, but I don't know how to indent the second line. Do I do it manually? I didn't see any style tags for other quotes.

Thank you.


— The above post was recorded by Allanostermann at 22:14, 6 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

As mentioned in the cleanup banner in Repo Man (the article you were editing, I believe), the formatting guidelines for films can be found at Wikiquote:Templates/Films. You can edit (but don't save!) this page to see the wiki markup (formatting characters) used to achieve the effects displayed on the page. (More information about this markup can be found at Help:Editing.)
If you are quoting multiple lines with more than one person, you really should place the quote in the "Dialogue" section, which exists for this reason. In fact, my personal preference is to place all quotes in "Dialogue" for films and TV shows. We want quotes to be precisely sourced, so we ask for page numbers or at least chapters for book quotes. The equivalent for films or TV shows is timecodes, but this is hard to do elegantly and runs into problems with the media through which people verify the quotes (commercial TV, DVDs, etc.). Therefore, the closest thing we have to regular sourcing for these articles is to add a context line very tersely (i.e., 1 short sentence) describing each scene before each dialogue excerpt. Something similar is sometimes done for character-grouped quotes by adding the context info in a sub-bullet (using two asterisks instead of one) below the quote itself). ~ Jeff Q (talk) 02:07, 7 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

As straight as a die (or dye)


I have heard someone described this way meaning they are thoroughly reliable and honest. What sort of die or dye are they being compared with please - there seem so many possibilities? This is an old-fashioned expression. Thank you.

The Oxford English Dictionary treats the phrase "as straight as a die" (also "as true" or "as smooth as a die") as referring to "die", the singular of "dice". The earliest usage they know of dates from 1530: "Make this borde as smothe as a dyce". That seems to settle the matter, and after all it makes sense that dice should be proverbial for smoothness, straightness and trueness, since a die that was anything less than true would be quite useless for all gambling purposes. Antiquary 18:45, 15 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]