List of misquotations

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Lots of people know a good thing the minute the other fellow sees it first.
Job E. Hodges
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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.


  • "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

  • "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.
  • "Religion is the opiate of the masses." - Karl Marx
    • Correct quote: "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.
  • "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.
  • "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.
    • The quotation is also often mispunctuated, with a comma after the second "double". This alters the meaning, as in the original (which lacks this comma) the word "double" is fairly clearly intended as an adjective rather than a verb imperative.
    • "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 230 (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, in one reader's opinion, 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 auxillary 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 did state that, for the pacifist type of a nationalist, the notion that "Those who ‘abjure’ violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf." is impossible to accept. "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.
      • "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 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?" - 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.
  • "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, punk. You're thinking, 'Did he fire six shots or only five?' And to tell you the truth, I've forgotten myself in all this excitement. 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 a 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". Which 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's 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's 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."

  • "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
  • "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.
  • "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.
  • 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. [5]
  • 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.
    • Notes: Homage is paid to this misquote in the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:

      Joachim: They're requesting communications, sir.
      Khan: Let them eat static.

  • 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"
    • 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 Voityck 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"
  • ""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.

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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