This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Electronic Highways

Published: January 18, 2007

Wikiquote: Another source for quotes on the Web

As predicted in this column almost two years ago, Wikipedia ( has become a household name. If you haven't used this free online encyclopedia written and edited by the masses, you have at least read about it or seen links to it in your Google search results. A less well-known Wikimedia venture (, though no less intriguing, is Wikiquote at Although online sources of quotations abound on the Web (see for a UB librarian-selected listing), Wikiquote has interesting and useful categories to peruse and also offers all readers the opportunity to become Wikiquotians (people who write and/or edit articles) themselves.

Although you can search Wikiquote in a search box by topical words, such as "peace," "animal rights," "silence," "success," etc., that identifies applicable quotations, I find searching by categories to be more entertaining. Search for "misquotations" in the search box and find a list of frequently used misquotes, such as: "Just the facts, ma'am," "Religion is the opiate of the masses," "Play it again, Sam," "Beam me up, Scotty." "Houston, we have a problem," and many more. Enter "misattributions" and discover Benjamin Franklin never said, "God made beer because he loves us and wants us to be happy." Type "incorrect predictions" in the search box and shake your head at such quotations as: "If Beethoven's Seventh Symphony is not by some means abridged, it will fall into disuse" (1837), "Radio has no future" (1897) and "Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years" (1955).

Wikiquote abounds in proverbs from places near and far. For example, the Icelandic people, who comprise a nation of avid readers, say "Blindur er bóklaus maδur," which means "Blind is a person without a book." You also will find listings of "Epitaphs" ("Together again"—Gracie Allen and George Burns) and "Last Words" ("Where is my clock?"—Salvador Dali). My favorite Wikiquote section is "Mnemonics." These memory aids have served most of us quite well through the years, starting in elementary school. Go to this listing and you can visit memory lane, or perhaps pick up a new trick or two, such as "Every Good Boy Does Fine" (musical notes on the lines of the treble cleft), "No Point Letting Your Trousers Slip Half-Way" (The ruling houses of England), "Retaliating For Long Frustration Moses Badgered Hostile Leader Demanding Freedom" (10 biblical plagues of Egypt), "Sam's Horse Must Eat Oats" (the Great Lakes in order of size largest to smallest), "My Very Energetic Mother Just Screamed Utter Nonsense" (the major planets of our solar system).

And what would a good quotation compendium be without "quotations on quotations"? As found on, you'll find quotations that both praise and deride the practice of using pithy quotations, such as: "I do not speak the minds of others except to speak my own mind better"—Montaigne, and "A quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself"—A.A. Milne.

One thing is for certain: After spending time trolling Wikiquote, you'll agree with the philosopher George Santayana that "Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it."

—Gemma DeVinney, University Libraries