In high school, I had an English teacher who often repeated that “quote” is a verb and “quotation” is a noun. Since then, I’ve always been taken aback whenever I see “quote” used as a noun. But was my teacher right?
In short, no. “Quote” is both a noun and a verb. In its noun form, “quote” is interchangeable with “quotation”. Don’t believe me? In the dictionary, you’ll see entries for “quote” as both a noun and a verb.
People like my high school English teacher often claim that “quote” is exclusively a verb. This confusion stems from the original use of the word. Until the late 1800s, “quote” was exclusively used as a verb. Since then, it has evolved to also be a noun.
Consider how the words “quote” and “quotation” are used in recent New York Times headlines:
- How Does It Feel, Chief Justice Roberts, to Hone a Dylan Quote?
- Quotation of the Day: Putin Adversary Was Poisoned With Nerve Agent
- Don’t Quote Them on It
“Quote” is used as a noun in the first headline, similar to how “quotation” is used as a noun in the second headline. In the third headline, “quote” is used as a verb.
How should this impact your writing? If the New York Times can use “quote” as both a verb and a noun, then I think it’s safe to say that you can, too. That said, I always recommend that you tailor your writing to your audience. In formal settings such as academia and professional writing, “quote” is often restricted to use as a verb and not a noun. In less formal contexts, such as day-to-day conversations and newspapers, “quote” can safely be used as both a verb and a noun.