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QUOTE UNQUOTE. As a convention of dictation, a speaker may warn that a QUOTATION is coming by saying quote and indicate that it has been completed by saying unquote. The usage has been carried over into conversation and public speaking: ‘He expressed the personal opinion that the picture was quote great for America unquote’ ( Peter Ustinov, Loser, 1961). Here, the words are kept apart, but in a further development they come together as a phrase, quote unquote, used to indicate that what has just been said would be in QUOTATION MARKS if written: ‘If you're a liberal, quote unquote, they're suspicious of you’ (The Random House Dictionary, 1987). The practice, in either form, distances speakers from words that they wish to emphasize are not their own.