Careful Words

idea (n.)

  There is what I call the American idea. . . . This idea demands, as the proximate organization thereof, a democracy,—that is, a government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people; of course, a government of the principles of eternal justice, the unchanging law of God. For shortness' sake I will call it the idea of Freedom.

Theodore Parker (1810-1860): Speech at the N. E. Antislavery Convention, Boston, May 29, 1850.

  Mr. Kremlin was distinguished for ignorance; for he had only one idea, and that was wrong.

Benjamin Disraeli (Earl Beaconsfield) (1805-1881): Sybil. Book iv. Chap. v.

The idea of her life shall sweetly creep

Into his study of imagination,

And every lovely organ of her life,

Shall come apparell'd in more precious habit,

More moving-delicate and full of life

Into the eye and prospect of his soul.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616): Much Ado about Nothing. Act iv. Sc. 1.

  That fellow seems to me to possess but one idea, and that is a wrong one.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784): Life of Johnson (Boswell). Vol. iii. Chap. v. 1770.

Delightful task! to rear the tender thought,

To teach the young idea how to shoot.

James Thomson (1700-1748): The Seasons. Spring. Line 1149.