Don’t Put Down the Bartlett’s Just Yet!

64 Arts

And I’m not talking about pears, either.

Two go-to references for me in high school were Roget’s Thesaurus and Bartlett’s Quotations. Add in a copy of Webster’s for the obligatory “The dictionary defines accomplishment as…” essay beginning and you’d have the trifecta of ways to b.s. a paper.

Tell me, have you ever thought of Bartlett or Roget since then? (College excluded.)

But there’s more to quotations that just pithy essay fodder (no, really), which is why we’ve got one more quotation art to handle before moving on:

33 Quoting the classics in answering questions.

Probably the easiest example I can give of this is to paraphrase the infamous star-crossed love story…

Honey, you’ve got to listen to reason, you can’t be into him, he’s a Montague!

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

She could have just said (to herself, because this was all monologue) I don’t care what his name is or he’s not just his daddy’s name or even pfft, we’ll just change his name later, no biggie–you get the point.

Point is, by saying it in a deep and meaningful way–and preferably with deep, meaningful words that someone else immortalized, thus giving them more weight and credibility–you sound, well, deep and meaningful. And maybe a little pretentious, if used too often, but still deep and meaningful for the time being.

Which brings me back to Bartlett’s Quotations. Did you know the entire thing is available online, along with scads of other awesome references all at (This is not an advertisement, this is just me passing along a helpful tip.)

Now, I hear you thinking (yes, really) what good are quotes to me: I’m all done with writing essays and my kids think I’m still pretty much a genius so, you know, why bother?

Aside from sounding spiffy when you’re talking with your grown-up friends, here’s a short list and ways quotes can come in handy on the day-to-day:

  • blog post prompts
  • journaling prompts
  • scrapbook elements
  • art prompts
  • pithy sayings to put on your walls
  • your eventual Jeopardy! tryouts
  • things to put on the inside or outside of handmade cards
  • when nothing else you’ve got in your head sounds right

But the most important reason to keep a quotable reference handy is that quotes, by their very nature of being known and often-used, convey understanding between you and someone else. Even if all you’re quoting is Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, you’re still finding a common ground with other’s who know where you’re coming from, based on a shared bit of history.

5 thoughts on “Don’t Put Down the Bartlett’s Just Yet!

  1. These are some great reasons to pick up the Barlett’s once again! Most of my quotes these days come from Anchorman. lol

    1. Really? I’d never even thought of them for that. We’re talking about the same Good Reads, right? The track-your-reading-review-and-join-groups-virtual book club site, yes?

  2. I have both Bartleby and on my bookmark bar. And I use them both frequently. Quotes are such an inspiration to me. I have them taped all over my writing desk for motivation. And yes! Good Reads has fabulous quotes, too.

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