From movies to activism speeches, iconic quotes have been misquoted and misremembered for years. From the famous figures of pop culture to everyday conversations, these misrepresentations seem to be everywhere - but how did we get here? Keep reading as we explore the world of incorrectly remembered quotes!
Ludwig Mies Van Der Never Claimed The Devil Was In The Details
Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe was a pioneer of modernist architecture. But most people recognize him as the source of this famous quote: "The devil is in the details." The phrase suggests that a plan can be ruined by its small details.
The problem? This is the opposite of what Van Der Rohe said. In reality, he said the German phrase "Der liebe Gott steckt im detail," which translates to "God is in the detail." This quote explains how architecture is held up but its tiny details. "The devil is in the details" did not appear until the 1990s, and Ven Der Rohe passed away in 1969.
Luke, Am I Your Father?
The Star Wars franchise manages to be one of the most popular movie franchises in cinematic history. Millions around the world have seen the iconic films, so it should be expected that they know at least some of the famous quotes. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back has one of the most used movie quotes of all time.
Fans might have thought they heard Darth Vader say, "Luke, I am your father." Instead, he said, "No, I am your father," after Luke Skywalker specifically asks him if he is his father.
Voltaire Was Misquoted
Voltaire, the French Enlightenment writer, was widely quoted for his wit. As a prolific author, he jotted down plays, essays, poems, novels, and scientific expositions. But Voltaire never said his most famous quote: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
In reality, this quote came from the English writer Evelyn Beatrice Hall, whose pen name was S. G. Tallentyre. She wrote his biography, called The Life of Voltaire. She wrote the phrase as an illustration of Voltaire's belief: "'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,' was his attitude now."
These Words Were Never Actually Spoken By Marilyn Monroe
Norma Jean Mortenson was born on June 1, 1926, and grew up in a childhood full of foster homes and orphanages. She was married by age 16 and went to work in a factory during the war efforts of World War II. She changed her name to Marilyn Monroe and worked hard to become one of Hollywood's most recognizable actresses of the 1950s and early 1960s.
A couple of quotes including, "Well behaved women rarely make history" and " If you can't handle me at my worst, you don't deserve me at my best" were never spoken by Monroe. The former was said by a Harvard Women's and American History professor named Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.
Disney Fans Are Scratching Their Heads Over This One
Walt Disney's first animated feature film was 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The story revolves around a young girl who escapes from her wicked stepmother by hiding out with seven comical dwarfs. The evil queen felt threatened by Snow White because the mirror told her Snow White was "the fairest of them all."
When the evil queen asks the mirror a question she says, "Magic mirror on the wall." This line is usually said wrong as, "Mirror, mirror, on the wall." There was even a 2012 film adaptation called Mirror Mirror that mistakenly got the quote wrong.
Machiavelli's Quote Was Reworded
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was around during the time of the Italian Renaissance and worked as a diplomat, philosopher, and writer. He is thought to be the originator of political science and is best known for a political treatise called The Prince.
The phrase, "The ends justify the means," is often attributed to Machiavelli because he mentioned a similar notion in The Prince. What he actually wrote was, "One must consider the final result." It was changed after people found that a Roman poet named Ovid wrote the former quote, which sounded catchier than the latter quote.
Some May Miss This Subtle Jaws Line
When Steven Spielberg made Jaws he thought it was going to be a flop, mostly because of the soundtrack. In reality, the soundtrack is what heightened the suspense of the film. This photo shows the protagonists of the film looking for the shark that's attacking beachgoers in their summer resort town.
Fans of the movie may think they heard the police chief played by Roy Scheider say, "We're gonna need a bigger boat." Scheider actually said, "You're gonna need a bigger boat." It's a really subtle difference that doesn't change the meaning, but some have been saying it wrong for decades.
Historians Can't Prove Abraham Lincoln Said This
Abraham Lincoln played an important role in forming the United States during the days of slavery and the Civil War. Although he was met with an untimely demise, he was able to accomplish a lot more than most of the previous leaders of the United States.
Some may associate him with the quote, "Great things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle." It was never proven that Lincoln said this and the true source of this quote is still unknown.
This All About Eve Misquote Makes More Sense Than The Real One
Bette Davis had quite an extensive film career during the Golden Age of Hollywood and one of her most famous roles was in All About Eve. She played an aging Broadway actress who saw her roles given to a younger actress played by Anne Baxter. Marilyn Monroe also had one of her first acting credits in this film.
One of Davis' most iconic lines of the movie is often misquoted, but it's understandable because the misquote makes more sense. Most think she says, "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy ride." She really says, "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night."
This Famous Star Trek Line Was Never Used In The Show
Star Trek has managed to be one of the most successful franchises of all time and it all started with Star Trek: The Original Series. The show aired from 1966 to 1969 and followed the adventures of a starship called the USS Enterprise as the crew navigated through space.
William Shatner's character of Captain Kirk often needed help from a crew member named Scotty to get the starship going. This led to the much-quoted, "Beam me up, Scotty." Shatner nor any other character ever said that line in any of the episodes.
The Wizard Of Oz Fans Say This Line Wrong All The Time
The Wizard of Oz is the most-watched film in history with numerous iconic lines that are familiar to people all over the world. When Dorothy enters the magical land of Oz she is transported a technicolor dreamland, unlike her farm in Kansas.
Many people thought her line to her dog Toto was, "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore," when in actuality she said, "I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." She is then met by munchkins and Glinda who guide her to see the Wizard.
This Casablanca Line Is Always Said Wrong
Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman starred in the quintessential '40s movie Casablanca. Set during World War II, it tells the story of a nightclub owner who must choose between true love and doing the right thing. Those who worked on the production didn’t expect it to be anything out of the ordinary but were proven wrong after it won several Academy Awards including Best Picture.
One of Bergman's most quoted lines is "Play it again, Sam," but this has been misquoted. She really said, "Play it, Sam. For old times' sake."
Albert Einstein Didn't Say Most Of His Famous Quotes
Albert Einstein contributed a great deal to the scientific community during his lifetime by developing the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, and creating the mass-energy equivalence formula. He even received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics. Surprisingly, some of his most famous quotes didn't actually come from Einstein.
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" and "Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe" were never spoken by Einstein. The true source for both of these quotes is still unknown. In fact, there are around 13 famous quotes attributed to him that he never said.
What Neil Armstrong Actually Said During The Moon Landing
Man first stepped on the moon on July 20, 1969. The Apollo 11 mission took many months of preparation and ended up being one of the most-watched television events in history. Neil Armstrong had to prepare what he'd say as he and Buzz Aldrin took their first steps on the moon.
Armstrong was quoted as saying, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." He actually said, "That's one small step for a man." The "a" was not audible in his transmission and wasn't initially reported during the live broadcast. There are some theories as to why audiences didn't hear it such as his accent or static.
This Gandhi Quote Is Nothing Like What He Actually Said
One of the most prolific civil rights activists throughout history was Mahatma Gandhi. He led one of the most successful peaceful protests that caused India to gain independence from the British. Many decades later people look to his methods when they see injustice in the world.
He is often associated with the quote, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." This is just a watered-down version of what he actually said, "As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do."
This Shakespeare Line Gets Misinterpreted All The Time
William Shakespeare was responsible for writing some of the most famous plays in history. Most schools still teach an abundance of his work and many of his plays have also been adapted into movies, television shows, and more. One of his greatest love stories was told in Romeo and Juliet.
Although it was published in 1597, it is just as relevant now as it was back then. The line that many get wrong is Juliet's, "O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" She is not asking where Romeo is, instead she questioned why they were sworn enemies.
You've Been Saying This Forrest Gump Line Wrong
Tom Hanks has starred in countless memorable films over the course of his career, but one that will always stand out is 1994's Forrest Gump. In the opening scene, Hanks' character is sitting with a box of chocolates and does not say, "Life is like a box of chocolates."
He really says, "My momma always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." The line is in the past tense because the plot goes back in time. Hanks ended up winning an Oscar for the role and he had also won the previous year for Philadelphia.
The True Origins Of A Classic Quote
Someone may say, "The proof is in the pudding," if they are trying to prove that something is true. This has been shortened from the original proverb of, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." It means that in order for someone to know if the food is good they have to try it first.
Pudding is included because during the early 14th century it was a kind of sausage with an unappetizing mixture of meats. The phrase is often attributed to Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra's The History of Don Quixote.
P.T. Barnum Never Said This
P.T. Barnum was best known for founding the Barnum & Bailey Circus. He was a showman who would have customers pay to see unique people such as Tom Thumb and Jenny Lind. His life story was turned into a major motion picture called, The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman.
It was thought that he had said the iconic quote, "There's a sucker born every minute," while referring to tricking people to pay to see his grand hoaxes. This quote was actually never said by Barnum, rather it was one of his competitors who saw how Barnum could get lots of people to pay for cheap entertainment.
Most Sherlock Holmes Fans Didn't Know This
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle came up with the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson and wrote four novels and over 50 short stories about them. The characters were given numerous movie and television adaptations and Sherlock Homes became one of the most popular fictional detectives of all time.
Many of the adaptations have Holmes say, "Elementary, my dear Watson." Holmes never says this in any of the books. Holmes did say the phrases "my dear Watson" and "elementary" in a short story called "The Crooked Man" in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, but they weren't said together.
Those Who Were With Paul Revere Heard Him Say This
One of the most notorious Patriots during the American Revolution was Paul Revere. Outside of the revolution, he was a talented silversmith who became the first American to successfully roll copper into sheets for naval vessels. His efforts at the beginning of the American Revolution were historic.
During his famous midnight ride through the streets of Boston, he was quoted saying, "The British are coming!" According to the townspeople who were there during his ride he actually said, "The regulars are out!" Revere was popularized by the poem "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1863.
Tom Hanks Didn't Check For Accuracy While Filming Apollo 13
Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, and more comprised the cast of Apollo 13. The film is a dramatization of what happened during the Apollo 13 lunar mission when the men aboard the spacecraft lost most of their oxygen and electricity. While director Ron Howard went to great lengths to make sure the technical aspect was accurate, there were still moments completely fictionalized for the film.
The biggest example of this is Hanks' line as astronaut Jon Lovell, "Houston, we have a problem." In reality, Lovell was prompted to say this by Jack R. Lousma in the NASA Mission Control Center who initially said, "Okay, Houston, we've had a problem here."
Neither One Of These Historical Figures Uttered This Quote
Alexander Graham Bell dedicated his time to help the hearing impaired, which is how he met Helen Keller. When she was six-years-old her father took her to meet with him because she was both blind and deaf and the two became life-long friends.
Both were thought to be the originators of the famous quote, "When one door closes another opens," but there is no evidence of either of them saying it. The quote in its entirety is, "When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us."
Hannibal Lecter Greeted Clarice In A Much Different Way
Jodie Foster played a young FBI agent named Clarice who sought the advice of a deranged man named Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) in The Silence of the Lambs. She does this to catch another psychopath on the loose.
A line that often gets repeated is when Hannibal Lecter says, "Hello, Clarice," but he actually never uttered that in the movie. He actually says, "Good evening, Clarice." The movie received five wins at the Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Hopkins, Best Actress for Foster, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Money Is Not As Evil As People Think
When people describe greed, they will often say, "Money is the root of all evil." This quote originates from 1 Timothy 6:10 in the King James Version of the Bible, but that is only part of the phrase. This saying is misquoted and often taken out of context.
In Timothy 6:10, the apostle Paul says, "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." In other words, money is not evil; loving money more than faith is.
Modern Translations Get This Shakespeare Line Wrong A Lot
Reality Bites was a cult classic directed by Ben Stiller and starred Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder. Critics thought the film perfectly captured the early 1990s grunge scene among young adults in America. Some of the lines in the film referenced back to notable writers.
Hawke's line, "Now is the winter of our discontent," was taken from William Shakespeare's Richard III. In the movie, it is meant to be a depressing line, but that's not what it means at all. The line from Richard III continues, "...made glorious summer by this son of York," which means that something good has happened.
Try Not To Mix Up This Oscar Wilde Quote
Oscar Wilde was one of the most successful poets and playwrights of his time and was known for works such as The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Toward the end of his career, he was sent to prison, which ultimately led to his demise.
Some may associate him with the quote, "Life is far too important to be taken seriously." This isn't written exactly how Wilde wrote it. Instead, it should read, "Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it."
Vampire Fans Have Been Misquoting Dracula Forever
Some of the very first movies made in Hollywood were monster movies including the 1931 film Dracula. Bela Lugosi played a vampire who tried to suck the blood out of young women, which turned them into vampires. There have been numerous vampire movies, TV shows, and more that were heavily influenced by Lugosi's Dracula.
Fans may think they heard him say, "I want to suck your blood," but that line isn't mentioned in the movie or in any other vampire film. It was assumed that most heard the phrase from people dressed up as Dracula for Halloween.
Why Blood Was Never Thicker Than Water
The phrase "blood is thicker than water" is often used to describe the strength of familial bonds (blood) over friendship (water) . This quote became a common proverb in medieval England. But its origins date back to 12th century Germany, and they were much different than the modern phrase.
The phrase originates from Heinrich der Glîchezære, a German poet who wrote the epic Reinhart Fuchs in 1180. There, he wrote, "I also hear it said, kin-blood is not spoiled by water." In other words, the water of friendship does not ruin the blood ties among family, especially if they live far apart.
Cherry Trees Are Of No Significance To George Washington
Most American schools will teach students about one of the country's first Founding Fathers, George Washington. He went on to become a leader of colonial America and is known to Americans as "the father of our country." Some may not know that one of his most famous boyhood stories was actually made up.
There was a quote that originated in an early biography on Washington that stated, "I cannot tell a lie. It was I who chopped down the cherry tree." In reality, Washington never said this because the anecdote was made up by a biographer named Parson Weems. After an investigation, it was noted that he often made up stories when writing biographies.
Don't Seek Medical Advice From This Old Quote
The first time someone likely heard the phrase, "feed a cold, starve a fever," was sometime in the 1500s. A dictionary writer named John Withals suggested using the phrase after thinking the body needed to use up extra energy for digestion.
This was most likely lost in translation because modern medicine mentions that people should eat when they are trying to fight off sickness. The supposed original quote is, "Feed a cold, stave a fever." This means that a well-nourished person with a cold can prevent a fever better than someone who didn't eat.
Leo Durocher's Quote Gets Misinterpreted In Sports
Leo Durocher, otherwise known as "Leo the Lip" and "Lippy," was known for his work as a professional baseball player, manager, and coach. He is ranked as one of the top five managers of all time and was posthumously awarded a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994.
One of his most famous quotes was thought to be, "Nice guys finish last," but he actually said, "All nice guys. They'll finish last." Durocher found out the meaning of his quote had been twisted, "I never did say that you can't be a nice guy and win. I said that if I was playing third base and my mother rounded third with the winning run, I'd trip her up."
The Line Everyone Quotes From Dirty Harry Isn't Correct
Clint Eastwood played "Dirty" Harry Callahan, an inspector for the San Francisco Police Department, who must stop a notorious criminal in 1971's Dirty Harry. The first film did so well that it led to four sequels and a spot in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
Most fans think they remember hearing Eastwood say, "Do you feel lucky, punk?" He actually yells, "You've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?" Although it's only a minor difference in wording, it completely changes the tone of what he is saying.
Tarzan Doesn't Talk Like That
The character of Tarzan first appeared in a 1912 novel called Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Over a century later Tarzan has appeared in tons of movies, television shows, at least 25 sequel novels, and more. Tarzan isn't always played the same way in each adaptation though.
Fans of the Tarzan films thought Johnny Weissmuller said, "Me Tarzan, you Jane," in 1932's Tarzan the Ape Man, but it was never mentioned in any of the adaptations. In the original novels, Tarzan is actually gracious and highly sophisticated, so it wouldn't make sense for him to talk that way.
J.P. Morgan Never Made This Grand Statement
John Pierpont (J.P.) Morgan was one of the most famous American bankers to dominate Wall Street during the late 19th century. It is easy to imagine him saying, "If you have to ask how much they are, you can't afford one." Not only is this quote wrong, but it is also misattributed.
J.P. Morgan never said this. According to his biographer, Jean Strouse, Henry Clay Pierce once asked about the price of Morgan's yacht. The banker replied, "You have no right to own a yacht if you ask that question." This is much more specific than the well-known quote.