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From the Merriam-Webster dictionary

quote as saying : to report or say (the exact words) of (someone) —usually used in the form be quoted as

He was quoted as saying there would be further delays.

From the Cambridge Dictionary

"If they're flexible, we're flexible," the official was quoted as saying.

I guess there are three situations where the idiom would be used.

  1. the speaker that is quoted is famous
  2. the speaker that is quoted is an expert in some field
  3. the saying is famous

Is my understanding correct?

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  • 1
    You don't have to be famous to be quoted as saying. There could be crime, and one detective could say to another: The perpetrator was quoted as saying x, y and z.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 22:55
  • @Lambie Thank you. Anyone could be quoted as saying, if only they can say something meaningful. In contrast, a baby can't be quoted as saying. Is my understanding right?
    – WXJ96163
    Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 23:11
  • It is not about repeating or reporting what someone says. Babies no, they don't speak.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 23:15
  • @Lambie Got it. Thank you. It is about convey my own idea by citing what someone else said. Is my understanding right?
    – WXJ96163
    Commented Jun 13, 2020 at 0:13

1 Answer 1

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"X is quoted as saying A" means the speaker has seen a quotation by someone that X has said A. It doesn't quote X directly. The use of the passive "is quoted as saying" means that the someone who did the quoting is left unspecified.
It doesn't necessarily imply anything about how the speaker feels about A, except that he wanted to attribute it to X.

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  • Thank you. I believe your explanation is clear. I'd just like to make sure whether I got it correctly. Assume Brian is a government official who said "if they're flexible, we're flexible" in a press conference before. Edward is a news reporter who cited that saying in a report. In this story, the speaker, Brian, has seen a quotation by Edward. The saying could be represented by A in your explanation. Is my understanding correct?
    – WXJ96163
    Commented Jun 13, 2020 at 1:55
  • Yes, and the government official is X. Commented Jun 13, 2020 at 2:07
  • Thank you. I read that report by Edward long time ago so I don't remember who wrote that report, and then I would say "If they're flexible, we're flexible," the official (X = Brian) was quoted as saying. Is my understanding correct?
    – WXJ96163
    Commented Jun 13, 2020 at 2:15
  • I guess you mean: you saw a report, where Y quoted X when he said A. Now you can say "X was quoted as saying A". If you know Y quoted him, you can also say "X was quoted by Y as saying A". Commented Jun 13, 2020 at 3:01
  • Yes, exactly. In "It doesn't necessarily imply anything about how the speaker feels about A", who does the speaker refer to, me or the reporter (Y= Edward)?
    – WXJ96163
    Commented Jun 13, 2020 at 3:12

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