Thursday Thirteen: Famous Quotes They Never Said

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1. “Let them eat cake.” Marie Antoinette

2. “Religion is the opiate of the masses”Karl Marx. The communist philosopher’s full quote was: “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.”

3. “Elementary, my dear Watson”Sherlock Holmes. Author Arthur Conan Doyle never wrote these words for his pipe-smoking detective. The quote actually appeared in a film review in the New York Times in 1929.

3. “You dirty rat” James Cagney. Anyone impersonating the Hollywood legend uses this phrase, even though it was never uttered by Cagney in any movie.

4. “Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well.”Hamlet. William Shakespeare’s line actually reads: “Alas poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.”

5. “Beam me up, Scotty” Captain Kirk. The closest Star Trek’s captain came to using this phrase was “Beam us up, Mr Scott.”

6. “Me Tarzan, you Jane” Tarzan. This phrase does not appear in any Tarzan film, nor in the book by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

7. “Spare the rod, spoil the child”The Bible. The correct quote from Proverbs 13:24 is: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”

8. “Congressmen who willfully take action during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs, and should be arrested, exiled or hanged”
Lincoln It was actually written by J. Michael Waller in a piece he wrote for Insight magazine in December of 2003.

9. “Blood, Sweat, and Tears”Winston Churchill The correct quote: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.”

10. “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. patent office.

11. “Events, dear boy, events”Harold Macmillan (the prime minister). This is reported-but-in-reality-never-made-response when asked to name the greatest difficulty facing a prime minister. He actually said: “The opposition of events.”

12. “Crisis? What crisis?”James Callaghan, 1979 What he really said: “I don’t think other people in the world would share the view that there is mounting chaos.”

And while this is not a misquote it is a quote verbatum which is scarcely attributed to either Abraham Lincoln himself, or “The Spirit of Lincoln”, and so will be included in this collection.

13. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality; and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position. I have never said anything to the contrary… perfect social and political equality with the Negro is but a specious and fantastic arrangement of words, by which a man can prove a horse chestnut to be a chestnut horse… Free them, and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this . . . . We cannot, then, make them equals.”Lincoln, August 21, 1858 Ottawa, Illinois


4 thoughts on “Thursday Thirteen: Famous Quotes They Never Said

  1. Verrrrry interesting! Oddly enough I came across one earlier this week that, when I looked it up, had been completely scrambled beyond recognition! You must’ve put some work into this one!

  2. I once met a journalism student who wrote an essay on how much better the press would be if they couldn’t can’t make up words to put into people’s mouths? Even dead people. And fictional people. His lecturers response was quite simple: in the library instead of the pub.

  3. wow, that’s a really cool list. Some of them I knew were misquotes – the shakespeare one especially (i’m an english major) – but others i had no idea. always good to be learning. 🙂

    i have a list up if you’d like to visit – i love meeting new people!

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