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From Middle English quoth, quath, from Old English cwæþ (first and third person past indicative of cweþan (to say, speak to, address, exhort, admonish)), from Proto-Germanic *kwaþ (first and third person past indicative of Proto-Germanic *kweþaną (to say)). Unrelated to quote.




  1. (archaic or literary, now defective) simple past of quethe; said

Derived terms[edit]


quoth (third-person singular simple present quoths, present participle quothing, simple past and past participle quothed)

  1. (defective, modal, auxiliary, nonstandard, archaic) To say.
    • 1807, Samuel Henshall, The Gothic Gospel of Saint Matthew, from the Codex Argenteus of the Fourth Century; with the Corresponding English, or Saxon, from the Durham Book of the Eighth Century, in Roman Characters; [], London: [] J. White, [], chapter XXVII, page 71:
      But the Healing-one stood before the under-king, and the under-king arraigned him, quothing, thou art the king of the Jews? the Healing-one quoths him, thou quoths.
    • 1864, Francis Palgrave, “The Conqueror, from Hastings to the Coronation. 1066.”, in The History of Normandy and of England, volumes III (Richard Sans-Peur—Richard Le-Bon—Richard III.—Robert Le-Diable—William the Conqueror), London: Macmillan & Co., page 402:
      The owner had the power of transmitting the possession to an heir by bequest, by quothing or speaking forth the name of the intended successor to the lord.
    • 1908, Howard Pyle, “The Mysterious Lady With the Silver Veil”, in The Ruby of Kishmoor, New York, N.Y., London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, page 15:
      “Why, no,” quothed Jonathan; “for to tell thee the truth, friend, though I am a man of peace, being of that religious order known as the Society of Friends, I am not so weak in person nor so timid in disposition as to warrant me in being afraid of any one. []
    • 1909, Dairy Foods Review, page 13:
      The old cow laughs, for she feels sure of a square dear now; and the wise riven quoths; quoths he: “Tis well done, let the good work go on,” []
    • 1916, The Pottery & Glass Salesman, page 21, column 3:
      “’Ods blood!” quoths Lee, “’Tis ‘Honey Dew.’”
    • 1962, The Paris Review, page 43:
      “Sooth,” quoths the Invincible Vince de la Crau, “this great Wind is within me and is clearly meant as a sign of my approaching Folly. []
    • 1995, Sheelagh Kelly, Shoddy Prince:
      ‘I really don’t know how the poor people are going to cope,’ quothed Oriel to her employer in response to his query about what she would be doing over Christmas.
    • 1996, Donald G. Schueler, “An evening interlude”, in A Handmade Wilderness, Boston, Mass., New York, N.Y.: a Mariner Book, Houghton Mifflin Company, page 116:
      Then, one evening I arrived home to find him sitting atop the doorway transom like Poe’s raven, quothing his usual owl equivalent of “I’m starving!” while roundabout the furniture displayed a day’s worth of fumets and splashy excrement.
    • 2009, Augustin D. Etienne, “In The Growth And Development Of Israel”, in God at Work: The Answer to Today’s Perplexing Questions, Xlibris, page 89:
      “Could I have some of your food? I’m so hungry I could die.” Esau quothed.
    • 2014, Anthony Labriola, Poor Love & Other Stories, Atlanta, Ga.: Anaphora Literary Press, →LCCN, page 162:
      When the minister should ask if Judith should be his wife, “Ay, by gogs-wouns,” quoths he, and swears so loud that, all amazed the minister lets fall the book;

Usage notes[edit]

  • Quoth is considered a defective verb because it is now the only recognizable form of the verb quethe, all other forms of which are obsolete. It was originally a past-tense form like "said". Some later use, which treats quoth as a base form and inflects it (quoths, quothed, etc), is nonstandard.
  • Quoth almost always comes before the subject, usually in the form "quoth he/she." It also often comes after the object, which is whatever is being said by the subject, written between quotation marks. It can also be inserted in the middle of an object phrase, where "quoth [subject]" is separated from the rest of the sentence by commas.

See also[edit]

Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of quath (spoke, etc.)