To learn by rote is to learn by turning words round and round
in the memory as a wheel. To “learn by heart” is to learn thoroughly
(French, apprendre par caeur). Shakespeare speaks of the “heart
of loss,” meaning entire loss, and to love with “all our heart” is to love thoroughly. (Latin, rota, a wheel.)
“Take hackney'd jokes from Miller got by rote.”
Byron: English Bards, etc.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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