- No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.
The Education of Henry Adams (1907) ch. 31 1838–1918 American historian:
- ‘Then you should say what you mean,’ the March Hare went on. ‘I do,’ Alice hastily replied; ‘at least—at least I mean what I say—that's the same thing, you know.’ ‘Not the same thing a bit!’ said the Hatter. ‘Why, you might just as well say that “I see what I eat” is the same thing as “I eat what I see!” ’
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) ch. 7 1832–98 English writer and logician:
- You see it's like a portmanteau—there are two meanings packed up into one word.
Through the Looking-Glass (1872) ch. 6 1832–98 English writer and logician:
- The meaning doesn't matter if it's only idle chatter of a transcendental kind.
Patience (1881) act 1 1836–1911 English writer of comic and satirical verse:
- It all depends what you mean by… 1891–1953 English philosopher: answering questions on ‘The Brains Trust’ (formerly ‘Any Questions’), BBC radio (1941–8)
- God and I both knew what it meant once; now God alone knows.
The Man of Genius (1891) pt. 1, ch. 2; see Browning 1724–1803 German poet: C. Lombroso
- Any general statement is like a cheque drawn on a bank. Its value depends on what is there to meet it.
The ABC of Reading (1934) 1885–1972 American poet:
- For you live not by things, but by the meaning of things.
Citadelle (translated as ‘The Wisdom of the Sands’, 1948) ch. 93 1900–44 French novelist:
- Egad I think the interpreter is the hardest to be understood of the two!
The Critic (1779) act 1, sc. 2 1751–1816 Irish dramatist and Whig politician:
- The little girl had the making of a poet in her who, being told to be sure of her meaning before she spoke, said, ‘How can I know what I think till I see what I say?’
The Art of Thought (1926) ch. 4 1858–1932 British politicial scientist: