When to Use “Quote” versus “Quotation”

Several writers weighed in on a recent Word Tripper differentiating “quote” and “quotation.” Here’s what the Word Tripper from July 30th said:

Quotation, quote – A “quotation” is a set of words that is copied or repeated, such as a passage from a book, speech, etc.; in commerce, it is also a statement of market price of a commodity or security. A “quote” is a cost estimate from a vendor or service provider. Thus, you wouldn’t write, “Here is a quote from Shakespeare…”; it should read “Here is a quotation from Shakespeare…” instead.

However, some dictionaries and language experts state that “quote” as a noun is interchangeable with the first “quotation” definition above. Personal preferences plays a part in this one. I prefer the stricter usage that differentiates them. Which one would you choose and why?

And here’s a potpourri of comments received. Do you agree? Disagree? Please weigh in yourself!

“Quote” has a verbal flavor to it. When you tell me “here’s a quote by Winston Churchill,” I feel like I’m getting in touch with his actual speaking the words. A hint of the kinesthetic. “Quotation,” on the other hand, feels like it’s a done deal. It’s the words he said, like here is an interesting statement of Winnie’s that is so right on! It’s an elite sentence that’s perhaps been around for a while.
– Max Dixon

I’m strongly in favor of more precise language. The more refined our use and meaning of every word we choose, in writing or aloud, the greater clarity we are able to achieve!
– Laura Key

I am becoming more and more dismayed at excuses for incorrect grammar used by such supposedly educated people as journalists and advertisers. Every time I hear “it’s at,” I am rankled. I find blurring the line between “quote” and “quotation” another example of self-serving rationalization for improper use of the English language. As writers, let’s raise the bar rather than agreeing to keep lowering it.
– Sarah Mohr

I think that common usage has blurred the strict differentiation of the two words. The change in some of the dictionaries indicates that to me. So, I will likely not be so definite when I write.
– Elaine Ness

The terms in any dictionary only reflect the current usage of a word, not its original meaning only. So even when we disagree with the new interpretation, we are “obligated” to follow the lead of the dictionaries and accept the new meaning of the word.
– Ginger Sawatzki

I’m certainly guilty of using the two interchangeably, but my preference is for using the stricter definition of quotation for a grouping of words spoken or written by another person.
– Paulette Livers

My preference is to use the stricter usage, especially in writing so the message doesn’t get garbled. It might be OK to get away with “quote” when using Twitter since they only allow 140 characters.
– Bill Short

I prefer to use quote as the verb and quotation as the noun. “To quote Shakespeare” sounds so much better on the ear than “Here’s a quote from Shakespeare.” I realize that language is always in a state of fluidity, but its nice to have a little structure to rely upon.
– Jude Johnson

Quote is a verb, meaning to repeat the words of another (ideally with acknowledgement), and quotation is a noun. But what’s a part of speech these days, with everything else we have to deal with.
– Ruth Mullens


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