Cover image for The Oxford dictionary of twentieth century quotations
The Oxford dictionary of twentieth century quotations
Knowles, Elizabeth (Elizabeth M.)
Publication Information:
Oxford [England] ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xiv, 482 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes indexes.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN6080 .O955 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



The Oxford Dictionary of Twentieth Century Quotations brings together quotations crucial to a picture of the twentieth century, offering the reader an overview of the social, political, cultural, and scientific concerns of succeeding decades. It concentrates on writers who were alive in orafter 1914, taking the outbreak of the First World War as the cultural watershed of the century. Quotations come from the written word, in plays poetry, novels, and speeches, and more latterly from soundbites, online sources, films, television, and advertisements. Coverage includes N. America andEurope, as well as the UK and Ireland. Quotations are organized by author, and include a brief description of each author, with context and source notes provided as necessary. There are also twelve thematic categories within the alphabetical sequence for quotations which are either anonymous or are not primarily recognized by theirauthor: advertising slogans, catch-phrases, epitaphs, film lines, film titles, last words, misquotations, newspaper headlines and leaders, official advice, political slogans, sayings and slogans, and telegrams. A browsable thematic index allows a selection of quotations on a particular subject to be traced, with topics ranging from fashion, food and drink, and art to politics, science and technology, and sport. The most significant words from each quotation appear in the keyword index, allowing individual quotations to be traced.

Author Notes

Elizabeth Knowles is Managing Editor for Quotation dictionaries at OUP.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Knowles, managing editor of Oxford Quotations Dictionaries, has chosen 5,000 quotations from the twentieth century, using 1914, the year World War I broke out, as the starting point. These quotes are from writers and others alive in or after that year and come from political movements, songs, poetry, advertisements, television, sound bites, and even online sources. Earlier events that have continued to echo down the century, such as the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, are included. Coverage is international, although emphasis leans toward British sources. Quotes are arranged alphabetically by the author of the quote. Special sidebars (e.g., "Film lines," "Last words," "Misquotes," "Official advice") add interest and variety; it would be helpful to have these listed in the table of contents. Author names are followed by dates of birth and death (where known) with a very short description. Where needed, cross-references are provided to quotations about that author elsewhere in the text. Within the author entries, quotations are separated by literary form and then arranged alphabetically by title. Primary sources are listed first, followed by other writers' works and biographies. Authors covered range from W. C. Fields and Paul McCartney to Bella Abzug and J. Robert Oppenheimer, with many others represented. Each quotation is accompanied by contextual information, if needed, and always a note as to the source. Two indexes, subject and keyword, provide additional access to users when an author is not known or when a quote for an occasion is needed. Quotation books abound, and smaller libraries probably need only standard general titles, such as Bartlett's Familiar Quotations [RBB N 1 92], now in its 16th edition; and The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations [4th ed., RBB D 1 92]. Larger libraries can expand their collections by adding titles, such as The Oxford Dictionary of Twentieth Century Quotations, that are more specialized. Knowles and her project team have produced an authoritative overview of social, political, cultural, and scientific concerns of the century. This fun and enlightening quotation source is recommended for high-school, public, and academic libraries.

Library Journal Review

Knowles, managing editor of the "Oxford Quotations" dictionaries, has compiled 5000 quotations from the past 100 years. The quotes are actually from 1914 forward, with the outbreak of World War I used as the "cultural watershed" for inclusion in this new dictionary. Arranged alphabetically by author, the quotes run the gamut from political speeches ("Ask not what your country can do for you") to advertising slogans ("Where's the beef?"). Each entry lists author, birth/death dates, and date and source of the quotation. Multiple entries for one author are listed chronologically. Two indexes, an extensive keyword index and a much shorter selective thematic index (featuring 30 broad themes, e.g., education, literature), provide numerous access points. The indexes cite the author's name, page number, and quotation reference number. Scattered throughout and framed in separate boxes are 12 "Special Category Entries" that include epitaphs ("Without you, Heaven would be too dull to bear"), catch phrases ("Who loves ya baby?"), film lines ("Go ahead, make my day"), and misquotations ("Play it again Sam," incorrect for "Play it, Sam"). A similar title, The New York Public Library Book of 20th Century American Quotations (Stonesong, 1992), includes 8000 modern quotations. Although the Oxford dictionary has significantly fewer quotations, its scope is broader (not just American) and more current. Highly recommended for all public and academic library reference collections.√ĄLois Cherepon, St. John's Univ., Staten Island, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.