List of misquotations: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A famous misquotation is a well-known phrase attributed to someone who either did not actually say it in that form of words, or did not say it at all.

It may not be known how these phrases came about, but when possible, their type of origin is noted in this way:

  • [P] Parody or satire of the original.
  • [C] A corruption or mistranslation of the original phrase, possibly accidental, which became better known than the original.
  • [M] A deliberate misquoting or made-up quote intended to discredit the alleged speaker.
  • [A] Attributed to a well-known person to improve the appearance of the phrase or the person.


Famous misquotations of actual persons

  • "The British are coming!" – Paul Revere [C]
    • Revere's mission depended on secrecy and the countryside was filled with British army patrols; also, most colonial residents at the time considered themselves British. The quotation is more likely based on (although not taken verbatim from) the later famous poem "Paul Revere's Ride." The alarm, if Revere had said it out loud, would most likely have been worded, "The Regulars are coming!"
  • "The only traditions of the Royal Navy are rum, sodomy and the lash." – Winston Churchill [M]
    • Churchill's assistant, Anthony Montague-Browne later said that although Churchill had not uttered these words, he later admitted that he wished he had.[1]
  • "When I hear the word 'culture', I reach for my gun" – Hermann Göring (and others) [C]
    • It is not known whether Göring or any other Nazi leader uttered this quote. The quotation most likely originated from the 1933 play Schlageter by Nazi poet laureate Hanns Johst. The play features a student who, in thinking it would be better to fight for his country than pursue his study, declares "Wenn ich 'Kultur' höre... entsichere ich meinen Browning!" (when I hear the word 'culture', I release the safety catch on my Browning (pistol)).
  • "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." ("Je désapprouve ce que vous dites, mais je défendrai à la mort votre droit à le dire") — Voltaire [A]
    • This line comes from the book The Friends of Voltaire (1907) by Evelyn Beatrice Hall. It resembles the actual quote "Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too" from Voltaire's Essay on Tolerance.
  • "If they have no bread, let them eat cake!" ("S'ils n'ont plus de pain, qu’ils mangent de la brioche.") — Marie Antoinette [M or A]
    • The original quote comes from Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Confessions: "I recalled the make-shift of a great princess who was told that the peasants had no bread and who replied: ‘Let them eat brioche’." ("Je me rappelai le pis-aller d’une grande princesse à qui l’on disait que les paysans n’avaient pas de pain, et qui répondit, qu’ils mangent de la brioche.") He was referring to an incident in Grenoble, 1740, ten years before Marie Antoinette was born. It has been speculated that he was actually writing of Maria Theresa of Spain or one of various other aristocrats though no evidence has ever been offered for this. In the meantime, Marie Antoinette's attribution to the quote was current in her time in antiroyalist propaganda, most likely to hasten her way to the guillotine (An Underground Education, Richard Zacks, 1997).[2][3]
  • "I cannot tell a lie. It was I who chopped down the cherry tree." — George Washington [A]
    • Washington never made this statement when his father asked who had cut down the tree. The cherry tree story was actually written in the 1800s by biographer Parson Weems and the tree was not "chopped down" in it. Nor is it true that Washington carved his false teeth from cherrywood after his father punched his teeth out.
  • "Judy, Judy, Judy!" — Cary Grant [P]
    • Grant never actually said that phrase as a scripted line. In the film Only Angels Have Wings, his character says "Oh, Judy," and "Come on, Judy," but that was as close as it came. Instead, the line came from Larry Storch by way of Tony Curtis. The line was spoken by Curtis while doing a Grant impression for the character of the millionaire in the movie Some Like it Hot. Curtis first heard it when he attended Storch's stand-up routine in New York and heard him say "Judy, Judy, Judy..." when Judy Garland walked into the club. Cary Grant did later say it to the camera, as a joking reference.[4]
  • "Houston, we have a problem." [C]
    • This is a misstatement of the actual communication between the Apollo 13 astronauts and Mission Control in Houston immediately after the explosion that aborted the intended mission. According to the transcript (at 02 days, 07 hours, 55 minutes, 19 seconds), Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise starting a sentence "OK, Houston..." which was cut off by Commander Jim Lovell saying "I believe we've had a problem here," followed fifteen seconds later by Lovell's "Houston, we've had a problem. We've had a main B bus undervolt." The popularization of this misquote is partly due to the film Apollo 13, which used it in the film, and in its promotional materials. Brian Grazer knew of its inaccuracy, but used it anyway as dramatic license.
  • "Football isn't a matter of life or death, it's much more important than that." — Bill Shankly [C]
    • The real quotation was said by Liverpool F.C. manager Bill Shankly in 1981 on a Granada Television talk show called 'Live from Two' hosted by Shelley Rohde, and it was "Someone said 'football is more important than life and death to you' and I said 'Listen, it's more important than that'."
  • "Anything that can go wrong, will" (and variations on this theme) — Edward A. Murphy, Jr. [C]
    • Actual quote uncertain. Variously, "If that guy has any way of making a mistake, he will" and "If there's more than one way to do a job, and one of those ways will result in disaster, then somebody will do it that way". Murphy's law has been purposely misrepresented and sometimes simply misinterpreted to mean "something will always go wrong" or "nothing will ever work perfectly". This is actually a statement of Sod's Law. Murphy's Law is really a design principle: if something can be done in more than one way (such as inserting a two-socket plug the wrong way around), somebody will eventually do it. The solution is to design defensively – if the plug is asymmetrical, it simply can't be plugged in the wrong way around. There is evidence that Murphy himself did not mean it this way when he said it; for more details, read the article Murphy's Law.
  • "The only two certainties in life are death and taxes." — Mark Twain [C]
    • Although used by Twain, this quotation originated in a 1789 letter from Benjamin Franklin to Jean-Baptiste Leroy.[6] Benjamin Disraeli is also sometimes incorrectly referenced as the origin of the quote.
  • "Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." (or similar) — Mark Twain [C]
    • Actual quotation: "The report of my death is an exaggeration." In 1897 a journalist was sent to inquire after Twain's health, thinking he was near to death; in fact it was his cousin who was very ill. Twain recounted the event in the New York Journal of June 2, 1897. Contrary to popular belief, his obituary was not prematurely published.[7][8][9]
  • "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." — Philip Sheridan [M]
    • Actual quotation is said to be "The only good Indians I ever saw were dead," though Sheridan denied ever saying it.
  • "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely." — Lord Acton [C]
    • Actual quotation: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely".
  • "The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic." — Joseph Stalin [M]
    • This quotation has popularly been attributed to Stalin as early as 1958, but, at this time, there is no absolute evidence as to whether it is genuine or not.
  • "Et tu, Brute?" — Julius Caesar [C]
    • Shakespeare in his play Julius Caesar has Caesar saying these Latin words, meaning "Even you, Brutus?"; a similar quotation is mentioned by Suetonius, but in Greek ("καί σύ τέκνον?" meaning "Even you, my son?") rather than Latin. However, there is no evidence that Julius Caesar actually uttered these words.
  • "We are going to build the Tories out of London." — Herbert Morrison [M]
    • Though widely attributed, no evidence has been found that Morrison said any such thing. The Local Government Chronicle offered a reward for anyone who could source the quotation.
  • "We are the masters now." — Hartley Shawcross [C]
    • Actual quotation: "We are the masters at the moment and shall be for some considerable time." In a 1945 debate to repeal the Conservatives' "Trade Disputes Act" of 1927 this followed a quotation from Through the Looking-Glass in which Humpty-Dumpty observed that the question of definitions of words depended upon who was master.
  • "Crisis? What Crisis?" — attributed to British Prime Minister James Callaghan [P]
    • "Crisis? What Crisis?" — was the headline in The Sun on January 11, 1979. Callaghan had been asked what his policy was in view of the 'mounting chaos' and replied "I promise you that if you look at it from outside, and perhaps you're taking rather a parochial view at the moment, I don't think that other people in the world would share the view that there is mounting chaos." The Sun may have taken the phrase from the title of an album by Supertramp released in 1975.
  • "The ends justify the means." — Niccolò Machiavelli [C]
    • A more literal translation, according to Peter Bondanella and Julia Bondanella of Indiana University, is, "One must consider the final result."
  • "Billions and billions." — Carl Sagan [P]
    • Carl Sagan insisted for years he never said it; as he explained in the first chapter of his book Billions & Billions, it was far too vague an expression. He tells in this book that when filming Cosmos, he put a large emphasis on the B in Billion, because at the time people were more familiar with Millions. The quotation actually comes from Johnny Carson's impersonation of Carl Sagan.
  • "To get rich is glorious." — Deng Xiaoping [C]
    • Innumerable newspapers and other publications have attributed this quotation to the late Chinese leader. It's supposed to be Deng's exhortation to the Chinese people at the start of his reforms. However, no one has ever been able to find an original source of this. See this article by Evelyn Iritani in the Los Angeles Times.
  • "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." — Benjamin Franklin [A]
    • A phrase commonly attributed to Franklin. This quotation is an excerpt from a letter written in 1755 from the Assembly to the Governor of Pennsylvania, and it may or may not have originated from Franklin. See Those who would give up Essential Liberty.
  • "Pride comes before a fall." [C]
    • Actual quote: "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." From the Book of Proverbs, chapter 16, verse 18, The Bible, King James Version. The quote is a part of The Beatles' song "I'm a Loser": "(And so it's true,) pride comes before a fall."
  • "I have seen the future, and it works." [M]
  • "Can't we all just get along?" – Rodney King [C]
    • His actual quotation, in the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, was "People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?"
  • "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." – Neil Armstrong [C]
    • Many people believe this is a famous misquotation, but it's actually a famous misspoken statement. The actual statement that Armstrong spoke when he first set foot on the moon was, in fact, missing an a before man. Without the a, the words man and mankind are interchangeable, thus obscuring the contrast between the two clauses of Armstrong's intended statement. At the time, NASA attempted to explain the missing article as having been lost in the original transmission due to the limitations of the technology of the time, which led to the common belief that Armstrong has been misquoted. There have been recent attempts (in 2006) to reveal the missing a through digital analysis of the audio recording, but the reports of the analysis have not been peer-reviewed. Explained at Armstrong himself, in his book, First Man, p.494, stated that he did not consider himself to be particularly articulate, and that while he had intended to say "a man", he had a habit of omitting syllables when communicating via radio.
  • "I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I have was that I didn't study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people." — Dan Quayle [M]
  • "Astrology is a science in itself and contains an illuminating body of knowledge. It taught me many things, and I am greatly indebted to it. Geophysical evidence reveals the power of the stars and the planets in relation to the terrestrial. In turn, astrology reinforces this power to some extent. This is why astrology is like a life-giving elixir to mankind." – Albert Einstein in the Huters astrologischer Kalender [A]
    • Actually, Einstein had very negative thoughts about astrology.
  • "... the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field..." — John Facenda, the famous voice of NFL Films (the official film production company of the National Football League) [A]
    • Steve Sabol, current president of NFL Films, denies that Facenda ever used the phrase, and the NFL Films highlight reel of the famous "Ice Bowl" game was narrated by Bill Woodson, not Facenda. It is believed that the phrase was popularized by ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman, who frequently uttered it while trying to imitate Facenda's distinctive voice.
  • "Hey Ram"Mahatma Gandhi (last words) [C]
    • Gandhi's memorial (or Samādhi) at Rāj Ghāt, New Delhi, bears the epigraph "Hē Ram", (Devanagari: हे ! राम or, He Rām), which may be translated as "Oh God". These are widely believed to be Gandhi's last words after he was shot, though the veracity of this statement has been disputed.[10]
  • "Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one." — Bill Gates [A]
    • Charles J Sykes – incorrectly attributed to Microsoft founder Bill Gates possibly because he is frequently described as being well aware of his nerdiness.
  • "Nul points" – Eurovision Song Contest [C]
    • The French phrase is often attributed to the annual Eurovision Song Contest in the media and elsewhere, most notably in the episode of Father Ted, "Song for Europe". However, only points from one to twelve (French: un – douze) are given during the song contest, and even in earlier years when it was possible to receive zero points, the phrase "nul points" was never read out. However the phrase is not used to refer to a singer getting no points in a single round, which happens to many singers/groups, but to those who score no points in the whole competition.
  • "Israel must be wiped off the face of the map." – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [M]
    • Ahmadinejad's statement literally translated says that "the Zionist regime should be wiped from the page of time" (بايد از صفحه روزگار محو شود). According to Juan Cole, a University of Michigan Professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History, Ahmadinejad's statement should be translated as: The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e eshghalgar-e qods) must [vanish from] the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad).
  • "Only the dead have seen the end of war" – Plato [A]
    • Attributed to Plato by General Douglas MacArthur in his farewell address to the cadets at West Point, and recently reinforced by its use at the beginning of Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down. This quote cannot be found in any work of Plato.[11] It appears in George Santayana's 1924 Soliloquies in England.[12]
  • "Hello, my name is Michael Caine" – Michael Caine [A]
    • He never actually said this although in 1983, Caine was given the line to say as an in-joke in the film Educating Rita.
    • Caine explained during an appearance on Michael Parkinson's TV show that Peter Sellers had the message on his answer phone: 'My name is Michael Caine and I just want to tell you that Peter Sellers isn't in. And not many people know that'.
    • The line was parodied in Harry Enfield's Television Programme by Paul Whitehouse, who introduced himself with the line "My name is Michael Paine, and I am a nosey neighbour."
    • "My name is Michael Caine" – This line was recorded by Michael Caine for the single "Michael Caine" by the British music group Madness in 1984.
  • "Well, here's another fine mess you've gotten me into." – Oliver Hardy [C]
    • The version of the phrase often used by Hardy was the line "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." The now better known corruption of the phrase most likely comes from the title of the Laurel and Hardy short film Another Fine Mess.[13]
  • "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they attack you. Then you win." [A]
    • Attributed to Gandhi with no known citation. A close variant, however – "First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you" – appeared in a 1914 US trade union address[14]
  • "640K ought to be enough for anybody." – Bill Gates [M]
    • Gates admits that he has indeed made statements that have turned out to be false, but he never said this commonly attributed line.[15][16]
  • "Money is the root of all evil." — Jesus, the Bible [C]
    • 1 Timothy 6:10 (attributed to Paul, not Jesus) reads, "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (King James Version). Like the English word "all", the Koine word πᾶν (the form used in this verse is πάντων) can have different meanings according to context.[17] Among other meanings, it can be used refer to absolutely all of something (for example, John 1:3), a large quantity of something (for example, Matthew 3:5), or every type of something (for example, Luke 11:42). Most modern translations remove the ambiguity by rendering the expression: "all kinds of evil" (or equivalent), preferring the third meaning listed above.
  • ""If I can't dance, I don't want to be in your revolution" — Emma Goldman [C]
    • In 1973, printer Jack Frager coined the phrase to print under Goldman's face on a t-shirt. The famed quote was abridged from a passage about her dispute with a comrade who claimed that "it did not behoove an agitator to dance."[20]
  • "I've just had eighteen straight whiskeys in a row – I do believe that is some sort of record" — Dylan Thomas [M]
    • Or a variation on that theme. Infamous for his heavy drinking, this was supposedly Dylan Thomas' last words. In actual fact he said "I see white mice and roses".

Famous misquotations of fictional persons

  • "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him well." — Hamlet, by William Shakespeare [C]
    • Actual quote: "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy."
  • "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" — Perez in Mourning Bride, by William Congreve [C]
    • Actual quote: "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned."
  • "Fasten your seatbelts; it's going to be a bumpy ride." – from the 1950 film All About Eve [C]
    • Actual quote: "Fasten your seatbelts—it's gonna be a bumpy night!" The quote, uttered by Bette Davis's character Margo Channing, was perhaps corrupted as it makes more sense to buckle for a ride somewhere.
  • "Just the facts, Ma'am." — Jack Webb as Sgt. Friday on Dragnet. [C]
    • Actual quote: "All we want are the facts, ma'am." The famous quote comes from 1953 recording by satirist Stan Freberg — a recording called "St. George and the Dragonet", which was a Dragnet spoof.
  • "Zulus. Thousands of 'em." – from the 1964 film Zulu [C]
    • Actual quote: "Sentries have come in from the hills, Mr Bromhead, sir.." (he then has to direct his report Lt Chard and concludes) "The sentries report Zulus to the south west. Thousands of them". It was not said by Michael Caine's character Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead, but by Colour Sgt.Bourne [Nigel Green] to Lt Chard [Stanley Baker]
  • "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do." — John Wayne in Hondo [P]
    • Actual quote: "A man ought'a do what he thinks is best."
  • "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do."[21]Alan Ladd in Shane [P]
    • Combination of two actual quotes from the film[22] Joe:"I couldn't do what I gotta do if I hadn't always knowed that I could trust ya" and later, Shane: "A man has to be what he is."
  • "Beam me up, Scotty." — William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek [C]
    • Actual quote used in Star Trek IV: "Scotty, beam me up," although the misquote had been in circulation for years before that. A number of similar phrases have been said by the various characters, but never in this exact wording. The phrase was finally uttered in this exact form in the audio adaptation of The Ashes of Eden, a 1995 Star Trek novel co-written by Shatner.
  • "Damn it, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a...!" Dr. Leonard McCoy on Star Trek [P].
    • On the TV series, the expletive damn it was never uttered by McCoy preceding this phrase owing to television censorship guidelines in force in the 1960s. It may have come from a Saturday Night Live parody, "The Last Voyage of the Enterprise." This misquote gained further popularity when Karl Urban used it in J.J. Abrams 2009 reboot – he did use the expletive, but the actual line was "Damn it, man", as it was directed at Spock, not Kirk.
  • "Play it again, Sam." — Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in Casablanca [C]
    • Actual quote: Ingrid Bergman's character Ilsa Lund said, "Play it once, Sam, for old times' sake." Then she said, "Play it, Sam. Play As Time Goes By." Later, Rick says, "You played it for her, you can play it for me...if she can stand to listen to it, I can. Play it." However, the "incorrect" phrase is the title of Play It Again, Sam, a Woody Allen movie about a man who is a huge fan of Casablanca.
  • "Oooh, you dirty rat!" — James Cagney [C]
    • Actual quote: "Mmm, that dirty, double-crossin' rat," in 1931's Blonde Crazy.
  • "Top of the world, Ma!" — James Cagney as Cody Jarrett. [C]
    • Actual quote: "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" from the finale of 1949's White Heat.
  • "Elementary, my dear Watson." — Sherlock Holmes [C]
    • The complete phrase "Elementary, my dear Watson" does not appear in any of the 60 Holmes stories written by Doyle. It appears for the first time at the very end of the 1929 film The Return of Sherlock Holmes.
  • "If you build it, they will come." — The Voice in Field of Dreams [C]
    • Actual quote: "If you build it, he will come." In the quote, "he" refers to Shoeless Joe Jackson and later to John Kinsella. The misquotation is possibly a conflation of The Voice's actual words with Terence Mann's line, "People will come, Ray."
  • "We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto" or "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto." — Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) from the film The Wizard of Oz [C]
    • Actual quote: "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."
  • "Do you feel lucky, punk?" — Dirty Harry. [C]
    • Actual quote: "'ve got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?"
  • "Throw another shrimp on the barbie" — Paul Hogan in a series of Australian Tourist Commission commercials on American TV. [C]
    • Actual quote: "I'll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie for you."
  • "Why don't you come up and see me sometime?" — Mae West as Lady Lou in the film She Done Him Wrong. [C]
    • Actual quote: "Why don't you come up some time and see me? I'm home every evening."
    • In I'm No Angel West's character says "Come up and see me sometime".[23]
  • "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille." — Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard [C]
    • Actual quote: "All right, Mr. De Mille, I'm ready for my close-up."
  • "Get off your horse and drink your milk." — a character played by John Wayne. [C]
    • He never said it in any of his movies.
  • "Oh no, Mr. Bill!" – Mr. Bill skit from Saturday Night Live. [C]
    • Actual quote: "Oh, no!"
    • What makes this corrupted quote strange is that Mr. Bill was the one who always said, "Oh, no!"
  • "Would you like to play a game?" — WOPR, through its "Joshua" program, in the 1983 movie WarGames. [C]
    • Actual quote: "Shall we play a game?"
  • "I love the smell of napalm in the morning. It smells like victory" – Col. Kilgore in Apocalypse Now. [C]
    • Kilgore's actual speech is several sentences longer than this version. The "smell of napalm" sentence is contained verbatim in the speech, which actually ends, "it smelled like...victory."
  • "Why can't I quit you?" – Jack Twist in Brokeback Mountain [P]
    • This phrase is often used on the Russ Parr Morning Show by the host during his parodies of the movie. The actual line from the movie reads, "I wish I knew how to quit you."
  • "Do not look...only listen." — Sherlock Holmes
  • "With great power comes great responsibility" — Benjamin Parker of Spider-Man comics [C]
    • The often-quoted Spider-Man theme of "with great power comes great responsibility" is widely attributed to Uncle Ben. However, this was not initially true. In Amazing Fantasy #15, the phrase appears in a narrative caption in the comic's last panel, not as spoken dialogue. In fact, Ben has only two lines in the entire comic. Furthermore, the actual line reads, "With great power, there must also come great responsibility."
      However, later stories and flashbacks that took place when Ben was still alive retroactively made the phrase one of Ben's many homilies he would lecture Peter with. Recent reinterpretations of Spider-Man, such as the Spider-Man movie and the Ultimate Spider-Man comic, do depict Ben as having used this phrase while he was still alive.
  • "Bite the fucking curb!" or "Bite the curb, motherfucker!" – Derek Vinyard in American History X [C]
    • Actual quote: "Put your fucking mouth on the curb! Put it on the curb right now!"
  • "Kneel before Zod, son of Jor-El!" – General Zod in Superman II [C]
    • Actual quote: "Come to me, son of Jor-El...kneel before Zod."
  • "Just follow your heart. That's what I do." – Napoleon Dynamite [C]
    • Actual quote: "Pedro, just listen to your heart. That's what I do."
  • "Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get." – Forrest Gump(1994)
    • Actual quotes (2):
    • (1)"Life is a box of chocolates..." by Forrest's mother
    • (2)"My momma always said that life was like a box of chocolates..." by Forrest
    • Thus, Forrest's mother says a present tense metaphor "Life is..."
    • And, Forrest says a subjunctive simile "Life was like...", but, no present tense simile "Life is like" exists anywhere in the film.
  • "Greed is good." – Gordon Gekko, Wall Street [C]
    • Actual quote is longer, and reads: "The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed — for lack of a better word — is good."[24]
  • "The world will look up and shout 'save us,' and I'll whisper 'no.'" – Rorschach, Watchmen [C]
    • Actual quote: "The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout 'save us!'...and I'll look down and whisper 'no.'" This misquotation was further popularized when Rorschach says it in the trailer for the film adaptation of the graphic novel.
  • "And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling KIDS!!!" – various Scooby Doo villains upon being caught, [C] [P]
    • Actual quote: The above is actually a pastiche of various lines from various villains put together. Some villains do not utter any parts of the phrase. Some villains remain silent. The above line was used in a DirecTV commercial using the Scooby Doo characters, however.
  • "Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?" – Ben Stein as a teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off [C]
    • This is a combination of two separate lines that Stein actually delivered in the film: "Bueller? ...Bueller? ...Bueller?" and "Anyone? Anyone?"
  • "Eh, what's up Doc?" – Bugs Bunny, in A Wild Hare [C]
    • Actual quote: "What's up, Doc?". While Bugs Bunny did say "Eh, what's up Doc?" in many other cartoons, he did not fully say it in his first official cartoon, A Wild Hare. [25]
  • "That's it! I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!" – Samuel L. Jackson as Neville Flynn, Snakes on a Plane [C]
    • Actual quote: "Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!" This misquotation might have come from the Cobra Starship song Snakes on a Plane (Bring It), which uses a sound clip that phrases it in such a way.
  • "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!" – Jack Nicholson as Col. Nathan R. Jessep, A Few Good Men [C]
    • The actual quote occurs in dialogue between Jessep and Lt. Daniel Kaffee (played by Tom Cruise).
      Jessep: You want answers?
      Kaffee: I want the truth!
      Jessep: You can't handle the truth![26]

See also


  1. ^ Quotes Falsely Attributed To Churchill
  2. ^ Ask Yahoo
  3. ^ The Straight Dope
  4. ^ Cary Grant
  5. ^ "Transcript: Vice President Gore on CNN's 'Late Edition'". CNN (CNN). 9 March 1999. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  6. ^ Benjamin Franklin quotes
  7. ^ "Comprehensive publication list of known interviews with... Mark Twain",
  8. ^ Powers, R.: Mark Twain: A Life. Free Press, New York. 2005.
  9. ^ "And never the Twain shall tweet",
  10. ^ Lal, Vinay. ‘Hey Ram’: The Politics of Gandhi’s Last Words, Humanscape 8, no. 1 (January 2001):34–38.
  11. ^ Plato FAQ: Did Plato write: "Only the dead have seen the end of war"?
  12. ^ "They think that the war perhaps the last of all wars is over! Only the dead are safe; only the dead have seen the end of war." George Santayana, "Tipperary", Soliloquies in England and later soliloquies, Constable and Company, 1922 (Internet Archive)
  13. ^ Another Nice Fine Mess
  14. ^ "And, my friends, in this story you have a history of this entire movement. First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you. And that, is what is going to happen to the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America." General Executive Board Report and Proceedings [of The] Biennial Convention, Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, 1914. Google Books
  15. ^ Bill Gates: "I never said '640K should be enough for anybody!'"
  16. ^ Did Gates Really Say 640K is Enough For Anyone?
  17. ^ LSJ entry for πᾶν
  18. ^ EXCERPTS: Charlie Gibson Interviews Sarah Palin, ABC News
  19. ^ Did Tina Fey out-Palin Palin on 'Saturday Night Live'?, The Watcher blog, Chicago Tribune, 14 September 2008.
  20. ^
  21. ^ Quotation from Shane in Biography of Jack Shaefer
  22. ^ Film script of Shane
  23. ^ List of misquotations at Wikiquote
  24. ^ American Rhetoric: Movie Speech "Wall Street" (1987)
  25. ^
  26. ^ "A Few Good Men - Wikiquote". Retrieved 2010-03-04. 

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

This page consists of things that many people think are correct quotes but are actually incorrect. This does not include quotes that were actually blunders by the people that said them.



  • “Nice guys finish last.” Leo Durocher (1906–1991), US baseball manager.
    • As reported in the biography, Nice Guys Finish Last, (by Leo Durocher, with Ed Linn, Simon & Schuster, 1975), Durocher’s remark was his reply to being asked his opinion of the 1946 New York Giants. He actually said “Take a look at them. All nice guys. They’ll finish last. Nice guys - finish last.” Elision of the subordinate conjunction in the final sentence turned an evaluation into a declaration that nice people are doomed to failure.
  • "If I can't dance I don't want to be in (/a part of) your revolution." (also: "If I can't dance to it, it's not my revolution")
    • Widely attributed to Emma Goldman but, according to Goldman scholar Alix Kates Shulman, instead the invention of anarchist printer Jack Frager for a small batch of Goldman T-shirts he printed in 1973. In her memoirs, Goldman does remember being censured for dancing and states:
      • "I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to become a nun and that the movement should not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. 'I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody's right to beautiful, radiant things.'" - Living My Life (New York: Knopf, 1934), p. 56
    • See Shulman, Alix Kates 'Dances With Feminists, Women's Review of Books, Vol. IX, no. 3, December 1991.

Soul meets soul on lovers' lips."

  • "Just the facts, ma'am."
    • This, the best known quote from the Jack Webb series Dragnet, was never said by Sgt. Friday in any of the Dragnet radio or television series. The quote was, however, adopted in the 1987 Dragnet pseudo-parody film starring Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks in which Aykroyd played Sgt. Joe Friday.
    • Correct versions:
      • "All we want are the facts, ma'am."
      • "All we know are the facts, ma'am."
        • Multiple, unspecified episodes
    • Mikkelson, Barbara and David P. (29 March 2002). Just the Facts. Urban Legends. Retrieved on 2006-12-18.
  • We trained hard . . . but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.
    • Usually misattributed to Petronius Arbiter
    • Actually by Charlton Ogburn (1911–1998) from "Merrill's Marauders: The truth about an incredible adventure" in the January 1957 issue of Harper's Magazine
    • Actual quote: "We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. Presumably the plans for our employment were being changed. I was to learn later in life that, perhaps because we are so good at organizing, we tend as a nation to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralization."
    • see Brown, David S. "Petronius or Ogburn?", Public Administration Review, Vol. 38, No. 3 (May - Jun., 1978), p. 296 [1]
  • "Elementary, my dear Watson" - Sherlock Holmes
    • This phrase was never uttered by the character in any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's written works. Though "Elementary," and " dear Watson." both do appear near the beginning of The Crooked Man (1893), it is the " dear Watson" that appears first, and "Elementary" is the succinct reply to Watson's exclamation a few lines of dialogue later. This is the closest these four immortal words ever appear together in the canon.
    • The association of this quote with the Sherlock Holmes character likely comes from the closing lines of the 1929 film The Return of Sherlock Holmes:
Watson: Amazing, Holmes.
Holmes: Elementary, my dear Watson, elementary.

Unsourced, unverified, or other best guesses

These may not necessarily be misquotations, but catchphrases from popular culture, whose formation required slight alterations to put them into context and make them memorable."
  • "No rest for the weary."
    • Probably a corruption of Isaiah 57:21 "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."
  • "Mate, how does it feel to have dropped the World Cup"
    • Allegedly by Steve Waugh to Herschelle Gibbs when Gibbs dropped a now infamous catch that eventually assisted in South Africa being knocked out of the 1999 Cricket World Cup. Although some Australian cricketers claim they heard this exchange, Waugh himself denies it was said.
  • "Because it was there"
    • George Mallory on why he climbed Mount Everest. Questions have been raised about the authenticity of this quote. It may have been invented by a newspaper reporter.
  • "It's a funny old game"
    • Jimmy Greaves' autobiography "Greavsie" insists that, despite this quote regularly being attributed to him, he has never used it. The misquotation may arise from a trailer for the Central Television programme Spitting Image during the mid-1980s.
  • "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.* "
    • Notes: This misquote hearkens back to the British Lord Acton, a 19th century English historian who was commenting about tyrant monarchs (Caesar, Henry VIII, Napoleon, various Russian Tsars, etc.). It is probably the single most misquoted statement in the English language. Lord Acton actually wrote: "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."
  • "Beam me up, Scotty" - James T. Kirk
    • From the Star Trek science fiction television series. Several variants of this do occur in the series, such as "Energize", "Beam me aboard," "Beam us up home," or "Two to beam up," but "Beam me up, Scotty" was never said during the run of the original Star Trek series. However, the quote "Beam me up, Scotty" was uttered in Star Trek: The Animated Series. The movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home included the closest other variation: "Scotty, beam me up." James Doohan, the actor who played Scotty, did choose this phrase as the title of his 1996 autobiography.
  • "Damn it, Jim! I'm a doctor not a..." - Leonard McCoy
    • From the Star Trek science fiction television series. McCoy had several lines of this sort, except that he never said "damn it". Only one "swear word" was used on the original Star Trek series (prior to the movies): "hell." It was most famously spoken at the end of the episode entitled City on the Edge of Forever: "Let's get the hell out of here" - J. T. Kirk.
    • Used in Star Trek (2009).
  • "Religion is the opiate of the masses." - Karl Marx
    • Correct quote, but often misinterpreted: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."
  • "Blood, Sweat, and Tears" - Winston Churchill
    • Correct quote: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."
    • The quote appeared in the book Metropolis, written by Thea von Harbou (wife of Metropolis director Fritz Lang), first published in 1926. The text, describing Freder Fredersen who has just finished his first day working to keep the machines of Metropolis alive, states, "He tasted a salty taste on his lips, and did not know if it was from blood, sweat, or tears."
    • Notes: A similar quote from Winston Churchill can be found in a recorded speech he gave to the House of Commons where he says " I have never promised anything but blood, sweat and tears, now however we have a new experience. We have victory. a..a remarkable victory. A bright gleam has caught the helmets of our soldiers and warmed and cheered all our hearts."
    • The song from the movie The Longest Day says : " [...] Filled with hopes and filled with fears. Filled with blood and sweat and tears [...]"
  • "Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend me your ears." - William Shakespeare (Julius Caesar)
    • Note: The quote is often attributed to Julius Caesar; it was actually said by the character Antony in the play. The next line "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him" makes it clear that Caesar is not the speaker, but is already dead. It was actually delivered historically in Cicero's funeral oration for Caesar.
  • "God helps those who help themselves"
    • The saying is not biblical, although it is an ancient proverb that shows up in the literature of many cultures, including a 1736 edition of Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac. "There is a Rabbinic saying: "One who comes to be purified is helped." which is quirte similar.
  • "Lead on, Macduff"
  • "Bubble bubble, toil and trouble."
    • Correct quote: "Double, double toil and trouble." - William Shakespeare (Macbeth)
    • Notes: It is worth mentioning that the line following this quote reads "Fire burn and cauldron bubble"; if the first line had indeed read "Bubble bubble, toil and trouble", the second line would sound redundant. If this is kept in mind, accidental misquotations can be avoided.
    • "Bubble bubble" was popularized in the hit Disney cartoon "DuckTales" - "Much Ado About Scrooge." The witches on the island chanted "Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. Leave this island on the double." Here the words from the Macbeth rhyming scheme are reversed.
  • "Methinks the lady doth protest too much"
    • Correct quote: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." - William Shakespeare (Hamlet) This quote comes from Hamlet, Act 3, scene 2, line 254 (line accuracy may differ in varying versions of the play). In this case, "protest" means more of "proclaim" than "argue against". Gertrude says it when Hamlet asks her if she's enjoying the play, in which the Player King and Player Queen act out what Hamlet believes was the murder of his father. On one level, she's critiquing the play by saying the Player Queen has too much to say. On another level, knowing what Hamlet is doing, she's critiquing her son by telling him very subtly that he's got it wrong - at least as matters pertain to her. However, she might not for certain have made the connection with her story yet. It is early in the play and what has happened so far really isn't very much like her story at all. She could simply be making an observation on human behaviour in general. Someone who is telling the truth is usually doing so rather plainly and shortly. Someone who is assuring too much is usually lying either to herself or to the audience. Therefore Gertrude implies that she predicts the Player Queen will break her word. Hamlet seems to interpret her statement in this way since in the next line Hamlet says: "O, but she'll keep her word".
  • "Money is the root of all evil."
    • In context: "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (1 Timothy 6:10) KJV (The King James Bible)
    • Many translations render what the KJV renders as "the root" (originally ῥίζα) as "a root" or "at the root" and "all evil" (πᾶς κακός) as "all sorts of evil" or "all kinds of evil". (See also translations in New International Version, New American Standard Bible, New Living Translation.) All translations agree that it is the love of money, rather than money itself, that is associated with evil.
  • "Now is the winter of our discontent."
    • In context: "Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this sun of York." - William Shakespeare (Richard III)
    • Notes: This is not a misquotation but a selective quotation, because the grammar of the quotation is different from the grammar of the original, and hence the meaning may be lost on some. As misquoted, is is the main verb, and the phrase means, "The winter of our discontent is happening now." In the full quote, is is an auxiliary verb, and might be rephrased according to modern usage, to clarify the meaning: "Now the winter of our discontent is made into a glorious summer by this sun of York."( this sun of York and not son, a punning reference to the coat of arms of Edward IV)
  • "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him well."
    • Correct quote: "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio - a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy." - William Shakespeare (Hamlet, Act V, Scene I)
  • "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
    • Alternative: "We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us."
    • In his 1945 "Notes on Nationalism", Orwell claimed that the statement, "Those who ‘abjure’ violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf" was a "grossly obvious" fact. "Notes on Nationalism"
    • Notes: allegedly said by George Orwell although there is no evidence that Orwell ever wrote or uttered either of these versions of this idea. They do bear some similarity to comments made in an essay that Orwell wrote on Rudyard Kipling, when quoting from one of his poems. Orwell did write, in his essay on Kipling, that the latter's "grasp of function, of who protects whom, is very sound. He sees clearly that men can only be highly civilized while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them." (1942)
      • "Yes, making mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep" - Rudyard Kipling (Tommy)
      • "I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it." - Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men)
    • Alternative: "We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." - Winston Churchill (miscellaneous quotation, no date)
  • "Play it again, Sam"
    • Actual quote: "Play it, Sam, for old times' sake, play 'As Time Goes By'." - Ingrid Bergman (Casablanca)
    • Actual quote: "You played it for her, you can play it for me. ... If she can stand to listen to it, I can. Play it." - Humphrey Bogart (Casablanca)
    • Note: Woody Allen paid homage to Casablanca under the title Play It Again, Sam, which is likely the source of much such misquotation.
    • The line first occurred in the Marx Brothers' film A Night in Casablanca (1946), another possible source of the misquotation.
  • "Greed is good"
    • Actual quote: "The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works." - Michael Douglas ("Wall Street")
  • "Someone set us up the bomb"
    • Correct quote: "Somebody set up us the bomb"
    • The spoken words are "Someone set us up the bomb" in the flash animation which made the phenomenon popular.
    • "somebody set up us the bomb" is a cheat code in Empire Earth to win the game automatically.
    • Notes: From a Japanese video game, Zero Wing, with a very unskilled and amusing English translation. Similar to "all your base are belong to us", which occurs in the same game.
  • "The rest is science"
    • Correct quote: "The rest is silence" - William Shakespeare (Hamlet)
    • Notes: This phrase may also be used as a play on words, or even plain prose, as when Steve Swallow, the jazz musician, said about jazz composition, "Eventually, an idea always comes, and then the rest is science."
  • "To gild the lily"
    • Correct quote: "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily" - William Shakespeare (The Life and Death of King John, Act IV, Scene II, line 13) Shakespeare was himself playing with the biblical story that says that one does not need to add to what God has already done for the lily (Matt 6:28) "See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these."
  • "Why don't you come up and see me sometime?"
    • Correct quote: "Why don't you come up sometime and see me? I'm home every evening." - Mae West (She Done Him Wrong)
    • She switched the word order in her next film, I'm No Angel, where she does say "Come up and see me sometime", but without the "Why don't you".
    • A mechanical mouse in a Tom and Jerry cartoon repeated "come up and see me sometime."
  • "I am not a crook" Richard Nixon
    • Often attributed to his denial of any foreknowledge of the Watergate break-in, when in fact the question raised in a Press Conference was about his personal finances. Nixon's response, properly worded, was: "People have a right to know whether their President is a crook. Well, I'm NOT a crook."
  • "Luke, I am your father."
    • Correct quote: "No, I am your father." - Darth Vader, Star Wars Episode V:The Empire Strikes Back
    • Notes: Said in response to Luke Skywalker's accusation about his father's death: "He told me enough! He told me you killed him." Although the accent is on the I, it is also often misquoted with the am having the accent. The dialogue is also often misquoted as Luke saying, "l'll never join you! You killed my father!" and Vader saying, "No Luke, I am your father." (The first correct quote with 'No. I am your father' is from the movie; NPR radio adaption used 'No, Luke. I am your father.')
  • "The only traditions of the Royal Navy are rum, sodomy and the lash."
    • Winston Churchill's personal secretary, Anthony Montague-Browne, said that although Churchill did not say this, he wished he had.
  • "A language is a dialect with a Navy."
  • "The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality", or a variation on that.
    • This was stated by John F. Kennedy and attributed by him to Dante [2]. However, in the Divine Comedy those who "non furon ribelli né fur fedeli" — neither rebelled against nor were faithful to God — are located directly inside the gate of Hell, a region neither hot nor cold (Inferno, canto 3); the lowest part of Hell, a frigid lake of ice, was for traitors.
  • "A damn close run thing" Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington, refering to his victory over Napoleon at Waterloo.
    • He actually said "It has been a damn nice thing-the nearest run thing you ever saw...", where he used nice in the archaic meaning of "careful or precise" and not the modern "attractive or agreeable" or the even more archaic meaning of "foolish".
  • "Do you feel lucky, punk?" - Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry
    • Correct quote plus context: "Ah-ah. I know what you're thinking: 'Did he fire six shots, or only five?' Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement i kind of lost track myself. But, being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, PUNK?"
    • Jim Carrey's character in The Mask paraphrased Harry Callahan by speaking this misquote.
  • "Whenever I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my revolver."
    • The actual quote is "Wenn ich Kultur höre ... entsichere ich meinen Browning!" This translates as: "Whenever I hear [the word] 'culture'... I remove the safety from my Browning!"
    • This quote is often mistakenly attributed to leading Nazi Hermann Goering, or occasionally to Julius Streicher, a lower-ranking Nazi. This misattribution may date from the famous Frank Capra documentaries (Why We Fight) shown to American troops before shipping out.
    • In fact, it is a line uttered by the character Thiemann in Act 1, Scene 1 of the play Schlageter, written by Hanns Johst. The association with Nazism is appropriate, as the play was first performed in April 1933, in honor of Hitler's birthday.
    • Baldur von Schirach, head of the Hitlerjugend, delivered this sentence in a public speech, circa 1938. A footage of the scene, with von Schirach actually drawing his gun, appears in Frederic Rossif's documentary "from Nurnberg to Nurnberg".
    • Notes: It is possible that this is actually a rather more felicitous phrase in translation than it is in the original. Both the original German and this English translation were juxtaposed by Howard Thomas in his review of an article by Nicholas H Battey in the Journal of Experimental Biology, December 2002, as "the famous words of Hanns Johst: 'Wenn ich Kultur höre ... entsichere ich meinen Browning' - 'Whenever I hear the word culture, I reach for my revolver.'"
    • The phrase itself may be a play on words as the word Browning may refer to both a pistol and the English poet Robert Browning.
    • Additionally it should be noted that a Browning (most likely the M1935 High-Power) is not a revolver, but a magazine-fed semi-automatic pistol. However, at the time the word "Browning" was used to refer to any pistol, much as "Colt" is used for any revolver in westerns.
  • "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned"
    • The correct quotation is "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned/ Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned." by William Congreve in The Mourning Bride of 1697.
  • "Don't fire 'til you see the whites of their eyes."
    • This quotation is usually attributed to Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans.
    • In fact, it originates with Colonel William Prescott commander of George Washington's Continental Army, at the Battle of Bunker Hill. The full quotation is, "Don't fire 'til you see the whites of their eyes. Then, fire low!"
    • Source: George Washington's War by Robert Leckie
  • "Houston, we have a problem"
    • This phrase, supposedly uttered by Apollo 13 commander, Jim Lovell was, in its original rendering: "Houston, we've had a problem here. We've had a main B bus undervolt". However, the first notification to Houston that there was a problem was by fellow astronaut Jack Swigert, who used almost identical words. The official Nasa chronology [3] lists the messages as:

      55:55:20 - Swigert: "Okay, Houston, we've had a problem here."

      55:55:28 - Lousma: "This is Houston. Say again please."

      55:55:35 - Lovell: "Houston, we've had a problem. We've had a main B bus undervolt."

    • However, in the movie Apollo Thirteen, Tom Hanks says Houston, we have a problem, a possible source of the confusion. [4]
  • "Kismet Hardy / Kiss me, Hardy" - British Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson
    • Nelson is rumoured to have said "Kismet Hardy" or "Kiss me, Hardy" whilst he was dying. Kismet means Fate. However, the OED gives the earliest use in the English language of "kismet" as 1849. Nelson did say Kiss me, Hardy to his Flag Captain, Thomas Masterman Hardy, but they were not his final words, and Hardy was not present at Nelson's death. Nelson's actual final words (related by Victory's Surgeon William Beatty, who was with him when he died) were "Thank God, I have done my duty. Drink, drink. Fan, fan. Rub, rub".
  • "'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" - Edmund Burke
    • The above is most likely a summary of the following quote in Burke's "Thoughts on the Cause of Present Discontents": "When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
      • Also attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville .
      • The actual line of Burke's is akin to Benjamin Franklin's "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."
  • "'We don't need no steenking badges!" - Bandit in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
    • The original quote is "Badges? We ain't got no badges! We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!"
    • This quote is actually from the film Blazing Saddles, in an obvious spoof of the original source.
      • When the newly recruited Mexican Bandits are presented badges for their participation in the upcoming raid on the town of Rock Ridge, the leader responds with: "Badges? We don't need no stinking badges."
    • The line was again misquoted in the movie The Ninth Configuration, in which a group of mental patients spend their time playing a game called "Famous Lines from Famous Movies" where one person quotes a line and the rest must identify the movie.
    • This is also quoted in the Weird Al Yankovic film UHF, with 'badges' replaced with 'badgers'.
  • "Spare the rod, spoil the child"
    • There are numerous proverbs dealing with the subject of discipline in childrearing, but this is the closest: "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes." - Bible (King James Version), Proverbs 13:24

This quote can be found in "Hudibras" by Samuel Butler a poem in the 1600's (google the term "Hudibras by Samuel Butler)

  • "Crisis? What crisis?"- British Prime Minister James Callaghan
    • This was a headline from The Sun newspaper (11 January 1979) referring to Callaghan's reply at an improvised press conference. Asked "What is your general approach, in view of the mounting chaos in the country at the moment?", Callaghan replied "Well, that's a judgment that you are making. I promise you that if you look at it from outside, and perhaps you're taking rather a parochial view at the moment, I don't think that other people in the world would share the view that there is mounting chaos."
  • "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."
    • This quote is often attributed to Sigmund Freud to show that even that a famous psychoanalyst can admit that not everything has a profound meaning; However, no variation of this quote ever appears in his writings. It was probably falsely attributed by a journalist, long after Freud's death.
    • Actually, the quote is "Sometimes a pipe is just a pipe." The story goes that Freud was lecturing on oral fixation and one of his cheekier students asked about his ever-present pipe and Freud replied, sometimes a pipe is just a pipe.
    • An alternative from Rudyard Kipling, from his poem "The Betrothed,": "A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke." The full passage is:

"A million surplus Maggies are willing to bear the yoke;

And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke."

  • "Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words."
    • Often attributed to Francis of Assisi, the origin of this quote is unknown, but it certainly is concordant with St. Francis's theology.
  • "Romeo, Romeo... Wherefore art thou Romeo?"
    • This line from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet can be considered a misquotation as it is usually used in the wrong sense: people often believe that Juliet is asking where Romeo is, but she is actually asking why his name is Romeo, lamenting that he is thus a Montague and an enemy. The word "wherefore," which is no longer commonly used, was a synonym for the word "why" in Shakespeare's time.
  • "Show me a young Conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains."
  • "I woke up this mornin' and I got myself a beer."
    • Correctly, according to the book "Light My Fire" by fellow Doors member Ray Manzarek, Jim Morrison was in fact singing "I woke up this mornin' and I got myself a beard", as the song allegedly tells of Morrison waking up after 3 weeks of drug induced sleep.
    • The line "I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer" was inspired by Alice Cooper. He and Morrison were talking at the recording studio just before Jim went to record this song. He asked Alice about his day and he responded "Ehh.. Woke up this morning.... got myself a beer." Morrison decided to use the line in the song. Repeated in many interviews with Alice Cooper over the years. [6]
  • My momma always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.
    • This famous line is spoken by Tom Hanks, playing Forrest Gump in the 1994 film of the same name. However, in Winston Groom's original novel, the "box of chocolates" line is rather different: "Bein' an idiot ain't no box of chocolates." Groom reportedly dislikes the change. [7]
  • Let them eat cake.
    • This was never said by Marie Antoinette. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in his 1783 autobiography Confessions, relates that "a great princess" is said to have advised, with regard to starving peasants, "S’ils n’ont plus de pain, qu’ils mangent de la brioche," commonly translated as "If they have no bread, let them eat cake!" It has been speculated that he was actually referring to Maria Theresa of Spain.
  • You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!
    • While Jack Nicholson does indeed say the second part of this line in the film A Few Good Men, the correct dialogue sequence is: "You want answers?" "I want the truth!" "You can't handle the truth!" Cruise's character, in response to being asked if he wants answers, responds that he thinks he is entitled; asked again if he wants answers, Cruise states that he wants the truth. This sets off the monologue from Nicholson that begins with "You can't handle the truth!" This misquotation is commonly used in parodies of the scene, including twice on The Simpsons.
  • Hello, Clarice.
    • This line, while occasionally used in parody of the film The Silence of the Lambs, was never once used in the film itself. However, Anthony Hopkins's character, Hannibal Lecter, does at one point utter a similar phrase of "Good evening, Clarice." On the other hand in the sequel Hannibal, when the doctor answers detective Pazzi's cell phone, just before he pushes him off the library balcony, Dr. Lecter greets agent Starling with the following, "Is this Clarice?, Well, hello Clarice..."
  • Well, here's another fine mess you've gotten me into
    • Attributed to Oliver Hardy, and often said after another one of Stan Laurel's mistakes.
    • The actual quote was "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!", which was said in the 1930's short The Hardy Murder Case although there were several variations in subsequent films. The short which followed The Hardy Murder Case was Another Fine Mess, which is presumably the source.
    • Ray Stevens later recorded a song that quoted "Here's another fine mess you've gotten me into / another fine mess, ah well, what else is new."
  • I'm out of order? You're out of order! This whole court's out of order!
    • Actual quote: "You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They're out of order!"
    • Character of Arthur Kirkland ...And Justice for All in response to Judge Rayford saying "Mr. Kirkland, you are out of order."
  • I am the devil, and I have come to do the devil's work.
    • Usually misattributed to Charles Manson, in regard to the murders at the home of Sharon Tate. Manson was not present at any of the murders known to have been committed by his followers. The actual phrase, though not as said above, was uttered by Charles "Tex" Watson to Wojciech "Voytek" Frykowski.
    • Actual Quote: "I'm the devil, I'm here to do the devil's business. Give me all your money."
  • Music hath (has) charms to soothe the savage beast.
    • A misquotation from William Congreve's play,The Mourning Bride, (1697). The word "beast" is actually "breast."
    • Actual quote: "Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast. To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak."
    • See Wikipedia listing for William Congreve
  • Only the Dead have seen the end of War.
    • Attributed to Plato, but actually written by George Santayana in his The Life of Reason (1953). It was first misquoted in one of retired general Douglas MacArthur's farewell speeches and then crept into popular use.
  • The end justifies the means.
    • Attributed to the political theorist Niccolo Machiavelli's work The Prince. The line is actually from a book in which a fictional Machiavelli is a character.
  • "Tous pour un, un pour tous !" or "Un pour tous et tous pour un !"
    • In English: All for one and one for all!"
    • Though the four main characters from "The Three Musketeers" did have this motto, they only said it once throughout the first book "Les Trois Mousquetaires" - while many people believe they used to say that every ten minutes or so. This was never referred to in the second book "Vingt Ans Après". Aramis is the only character to say it again, in the third and last book "Le Vicomte De Bragelonne" (to explain why he talked Porthos into his Man In The Iron Mask conspiracy). Every adaptation (movies, comics, series, etc ...), however, throws this quotation on every rightful (or not ) occasion.
  • "A rose by any other name smells just as sweet."
    • Actual Quote: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet."
    • The quote is found in Act II, scene ii of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet - the well-known "Balcony Scene" in which Juliet declares that it is but Romeo's name that is the crime of their passion.
  • "If you build it, they will come"
    • Actual Quote: "If you build it, he will come" from Field of Dreams.
    • Possibly a confusion of the Waynes World 2 quote "If you book them, they will come." Said by the spirit of Jim Morrison.
  • ""Step into my parlor" said the spider to the fly"
  • "Nul points"
    • The French phrase is often attributed to the annual Eurovision Song Contest in the media and elsewhere, most notably in the episode of Father Ted, "Song for Europe". However, only points from one to twelve (un - douze) are given during the song contest. The phrase refers to the final score after a country has received no votes at all.
  • "Mirror, mirror, on the wall..." – The Queen in Snow_White_and_the_Seven_Dwarfs_(1937_film)
    • The correct quote is "Magic mirror on the wall” (followed by "who is the fairest one of all?" and, later in the film, "now who is the fairest one of all?")

Commonly misquoted


Because they are well-known wits, sages, or malapropists, certain people are commonly given credit for statements they are not known to have made. Among the more common false authors:



  • Ralph Keyes: "Nice guys finish seventh - False phrases, spurious sayings and familiar misquotations", HarperCollins 1992, ISBN 0062720392.


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