This article is from the Quotations FAQ, by Sir Hans firstname.lastname@example.org Jason Newquist email@example.com with numerous contributions by others.
Quotation, n. The act of repeating erroneously the
words of another. The words erroneously repeated.
Ambrose Bierce (1842-?1914)
"The Devil's Dictionary" (1911)
According to Tony Augarde in his preface to "The Oxford Dictionary
of Modern Quotations" a quotation is ``a saying or piece of writing
that strikes people as so true that they quote it (or allude to it) in
speech or writing'', to which I would add ``or add it to their personal
collection''--at least this is the case with many readers of
alt.quotations. Quotations are either famous in their own right or
utterances by (generally speaking) someone famous. Quotations can be
maxims, aphorisms, striking fragments of poetry, humorous or impressive
prose and remarks, coinages of new phrases or ideas, remarks at
historical events, putdowns of others, famous last words or anything
else which is worth repeating on its own, possibly with some comment on
when, where, and on who.