Given a question asking for the original source of a quotation. Some digging around the 'net has thrown up an avenue for further exploration but not an answer. What I've found (and their links) would probably take at least a couple of comments.

Should I:

  1. Post what I've found as one or more comments, risking a potential "don't answer in comments" response (even though it's not [yet] an answer)?

  2. Post what I've found as an answer, even though it isn't really. The details might lead to answer, but might lead down a blind-alley.

  3. Don't post anything because I don't have a full answer. The problem is that I probably can't take the digging any deeper, but someone else might be able to.

  4. Neither, as asking for the source of a quotation is off-topic (doesn't seem to be specifically allowed or disallowed; may depend on how wide the "and Usage" part of the site is taken).

  • 6
    I always take option 1 and cheerfully ignore any abjurations about what others would like me to put into comments or not.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 11:13
  • 5
    1 or 2. Don't hide your research.
    – Mitch
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 11:34
  • 2
    4 is not the case. Provenance of quotes was established as ontopic long ago. Also, they tend not to be closed.
    – Mitch
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 11:35
  • @user3850720 That was the question. Unfortunately, as it turned out, what I found wasn't very significant: I added what I found as a comment to KarlG's answer. (When I asked this question, using ngram-viewer, I'd found a reference to the phrase in an anthology of "great works", the original work being André Maurois's biography of Disraeli. Unfortunately, Google Books only showed a 6-line snippet so I had no idea whether there was anything worthwhile in it or not. Between asking here and KarlG's answer, I came across the PDF I quoted and realised it was only a passing reference.
    – TripeHound
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 22:31

1 Answer 1


If you've come up with an answer, even a partial answer, it's better as an answer so it can be peer reviewed.

If it isn't really even a partial answer, but it would help the asker do more research, it's better as a comment.

  • Thanks. With a bit more digging, it turns out it was the latter so I've left a comment.
    – TripeHound
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 15:51

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