The Yale Book of Quotations

Edited by Fred R. Shapiro; Foreword by Joseph Epstein

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Leaf through The Yale Book of Quotations with NPR's Morning Edition

Read what a Freakonomics author has to say about The Yale Book of Quotations

Named the #2 reference book that is essential for a home library by Donald Altschiller, Wall Street Journal
Named a Best Book of 2006 by Amazon
“Shapiro does original research, earning his 1,067-page volume a place on the quotation shelf next to Bartlett's and Oxford's.”—William Safire, New York Times Magazine
“More comprehensive than any other quotation-reference work.”—Katie Hafner, BookForum
“Meticulously researched. . . . a quotations book with footnotes that are as fascinating to read as the quotes themselves.”—Arthur Spiegelman, Washington Post Book World
This reader-friendly volume contains more than 12,000 famous quotations, arranged alphabetically by author. It is unique in its focus on American quotations and its inclusion of items not only from literary and historical sources but also from popular culture, sports, computers, science, politics, law, and the social sciences. Anonymously authored items appear in sections devoted to folk songs, advertising slogans, television catchphrases, proverbs, and others.

For each quotation, a source and first date of use is cited. In many cases, new research for this book has uncovered an earlier date or a different author than had previously been understood. (It was Beatrice Kaufman, not Sophie Tucker, who exclaimed, “I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich. Rich is better!” William Tecumseh Sherman wasn’t the originator of “War is hell!” It was Napoleon.) Numerous entries are enhanced with annotations to clarify meaning or context for the reader. These interesting annotations, along with extensive cross-references that identify related quotations and a large keyword index, will satisfy both the reader who seeks specific information and the curious browser who appreciates an amble through entertaining pages.

Fred R. Shapiro is associate librarian and lecturer in legal research at the Yale Law School. He is a well-known authority on quotations and the editor of The Oxford Dictionary of American Legal Quotations.

To submit your own quotations, visit

Leaf through the Yale Book of Quotations with NPR’s Morning Edition.

Read Arthur Spiegelman's Reuters review here.

Read what a Freakonomics author has to say.

"Meticulously researched. . . . To find out who said what and when they did it, Shapiro spent six years poring over hundreds and hundreds of databases, using advanced Internet searches as well as using the more old-fashioned methods of going through microfilms, dusty bookshelves and reading the 1,000 or so other quotation books that are out there to find out the truth. . . . The result . . . is a quotations book with footnotes that are as fascinating to read as the quotes themselves."—Arthur Spiegelman, Washington Post Book World

"This collection of 12,000 quotations is a real treat! The quotes range over literature, history, popular culture, sports, computers, science, politics, law, and the social sciences, and although American quotations are emphasized, the book's scope is global. The authors represented are as diverse as William Shakespeare, John Lennon, Jack Dempsey, both Presidents Bush, J.K. Rowling, Rita Mae Brown, Confucius, Warren Buffet, and Deng Xiaoping. . . . The scope and detail of research here is impressive, and the . . . typeface and layout make the work inviting. . . . Libraries will want to purchase a copy for reference and for circulation, even if they haven't been buying quotation books recently. Every library will want one for circulation because browsing it is such fun."—Library Journal

"Fred Shapiro's The Yale Book of Quotations brings new names, new life, and scrupulous research to the world of great lines. . . . [He] is arguably the nation's preeminent archaeologist of quotations. . . . [The] book is a joy simply to peruse. . . . His annotations constitute a parallel text that lends the book the sort of heft needed to become a standard reference tool, as it inevitably will. The cross-references and historical contexts he offers for quotations are invaluable for future researchers."—Alan Bisbort, Connecticut Magazine

"The Yale Book of Quotations, with Fred Shapiro's original research, will shock many of us out of our state of error."—

William Safire, New York Times Magazine

"The power of the demotic gives Shapiro’s book a special charge not shared by other such compilations."—Carlo Rotella, Yale Alumni Magazine

"The first truly modern yet historically comprehensive book of quotations."—Randall Beach, New Haven Register

"A splendid work of painstaking research and wide culture."—Joseph Epstein, from the Foreword

"This is a useful resource for writers, speakers, and preachers."—Christian Century

"The Yale Book of Quotations aims to become the Bartlett’s for a new generation. It may well do it. One thing is certain: It’s a whole lot more fun. . . . An irreverent, uncensored romp."—Steve Blow, Dallas Morning News

"Seems this book would make a great educational game—exercising the brain instead of the joystick finger."—Donna Doherty, New Haven Register

"A handsome and well-indexed compilation. . . . It is not just a compilation but a work of scholarship. . . . In The Yale Book of Quotations, [Shapiro] proves even more diligent than Bartlett was about finding the exact origins and wording of familiar quotations. . . . The historical notes in small type—elaborating on sources and parallels, and sometimes cross-referencing other quotations within the volume—make this a really useful reference work. It is also a profitable (or at least entertaining) way to procrastinate."—Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed

"[A] hotly awaited tome."—William Safire, New York Times

"The Yale Book of Quotations, handsomely printed, brings modern voices into the company of standbys like Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson and Mark Twain, who squeeze together and make room for B.B. King, Fran Lebowitz, and Stanislaw Jerzy Lec."—William Grimes, New York Times (The Gifts to Open Again and Again)

"Tired of anglophilic Bartlett’s, with its overused English one-liners? [This is] a major new companion, tilted toward American and pop culture."—Carlin Romano, Philadelphia Inquirer (Worthy of Coffee Table and Reading Too.)

"Wonderful."—Stephen J. Dubner, Freakonomics Blog

". . . good-humoured and richly sourced."—Godfrey Smith, The Sunday Times

"The Yale Book of Quotations would make a welcome addition to anyone’s library. For one thing it’s more fun than

Bartlett’s and it’s more democratic. The Yale book, in fact, spends more time quoting Groucho Marx than Karl Marx."—Dave Wood,

"This is a work of scholarship and love. Librarians can take pride in the achievement of their talented colleague. They will find The Yale Book of Quotations a very helpful addition to their collections and a whole lot of fun, too."—

Vince Juliano, Connecticut Libraries

"Certain books have the peculiar usefulness of rewhetting one’s appetite for words and thus for life. The Yale Book of Quotations has happily fulfilled this promise."—Tom D’Evelyn,

Providence Journal

"A handsome volume of twelve thousand quotations, some more famous than others—is Bartlett's and Oxford corrected, amplified, amended, modernized and generally spiffed up. Not only is the The Yale Book of Quotations a more profoundly researched work than anything else to date, it is more comprehensive than any other quotation-reference work—the first, in fact, to emphasize modern and American sources and fully to represent popular culture, children's literature, sports, computers, politics, law, and the social sciences."—Katie Hafner, BookForum

"Bartlett's Familiar Quotations has around 25,000 quotations, and Oxford Dictionary of Quotations has more than 20,000. Although the Yale dictionary is smaller, readers may find it a richer source for familiar names, from Dr. Seuss to Donald Rumsfeld, and for special categories such as advertising slogans and film lines. Quotation dictionaries are an essential part of the reference collection, and this one, with its broad scope and meticulous attention to the origins of the material quoted, will enhance any collection, large or small."—Booklist

"Delightful. . . . Contains examples that are funny as well as examples that are serious and thought-provoking."—Henry Cohen, The Federal Lawyer

"A splendid work of painstaking research and wide culture."—Joseph Epstein, from the Foreword

Named the #2 reference book that is essential for a home library by Donald Altschiller, Wall Street Journal

"Shapiro has set a very high bar for any future reference work of this kind. . . . Besides being at the forefront of attribution sleuthing, YBQ is also noteworthy for expanding the usual boundaries of quotation dictionaries. . . . Unparalleled and endlessly rewarding."—Ben Zimmer, Dictionaries

Selected as a 2007 "Outstanding" book by AAUP University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries

Named a Best Book of 2006 by

Received Honorable Mention from the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers (PSP/AAP) in the category of single-volume reference, humanities and social sciences

Winner of the Bronze ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award in Reference

Selected as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2007 by Choice Magazine

A finalist in the category of Nonfiction for the 2007 Connecticut Book Award, given by the Connecticut Center for the Book
ISBN: 9780300107982
Publication Date: October 30, 2006
1104 pages, 7 x 9-1/4
92 b/w illus.

Sales Restrictions: World excluding India

Listen to an interview with the author on the Yale Press Podcast.

The Yale Book of Quotations App is now available at the iTunes Store


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