Inside: Top most well known incorrect quotes that have gone unnoticed throughout history

Incorrect, inaccurate, or misattributed quotes are a common phenomenon in history, where famous people are falsely credited with saying something they never actually said. These quotes often become ingrained in pop culture and are mistakenly associated with the wrong person.

I mean, I wouldn’t hate getting credited with an iconic saying or two. This topic makes me wonder about how these celebrities or pop culture icons (that are still around) might feel about this. Would they feel awkward or think it’s funny?

Photo of historic Painting.

After my relationship goal quotes list, I thought I should find some more serious content, so I am going to explore some of the top famous incorrect quotes that have managed to endure over time, despite being inaccurately attributed. While you are reading these, ask yourself the question, “How would I feel about being falsely credited with this quote?”

Famous Incorrect Quotes

History is a funny thing, especially when it involves word of mouth. It reminds me of that game we would play in school, where everyone lines up, and the first person whispers a phrase, then they have to pass it along quietly. Once it gets to the end, it’s a completely different sentence than what was started with!

“Let them eat cake.”

Misattributed to: Marie Antoinette

Actual origin: Unknown

This quote is commonly associated with Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, during the French Revolution. However, there is no evidence to suggest that she ever uttered these words. The phrase existed in French literature before her time, and its true origin remains a mystery. How cool!

Incorrect Quotes: “Elementary, my dear Watson.”

Misattributed to: Sherlock Holmes

Actual origin: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Author of Sherlock Holmes stories)

While Sherlock Holmes frequently uttered the word “elementary” in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, the iconic phrase “Elementary, my dear Watson” never appears in any of the original works. It gained popularity through its use in film adaptations.

“Beam me up, Scotty.”

Misattributed to: Captain James T. Kirk (Star Trek)

Actual origin: Variations used in Star Trek TV series and films

Although variations of the phrase were used in the Star Trek series and films, Captain James T. Kirk never actually said, “Beam me up, Scotty” verbatim. The line has become synonymous with the show but was never uttered in that exact form. As a Treky, this wrecked me.

Elementary my dear Watson. Photo of Sherlock.

“Play it again, Sam.”

Misattributed to: Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca

Actual origin: Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca

One of the most famous movie quotes of all time, the line “Play it again, Sam” is often associated with Humphrey Bogart’s character in Casablanca. However, it was Ingrid Bergman’s character who said a similar line, “Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.'”

“The ends justify the means.”

Misattributed to: Niccolò Machiavelli

Actual origin: Unknown

This phrase is often attributed to the Italian Renaissance political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli, but it doesn’t appear in any of his published works. The idea behind the quote aligns with some of Machiavelli’s teachings, but he never explicitly stated it.

Incorrect Quotes: “Blood is thicker than water.”

Misattributed to: William Shakespeare

Actual origin: Unknown

While commonly believed to be a line from William Shakespeare’s works, the phrase “Blood is thicker than water” does not appear in any of his plays or sonnets. Its true origin is uncertain, but it became widely used to express the idea of family bonds.

Famous Incorrect Quotes That Persist Through History

So…how are you feeling so far? I am about to book a therapy appointment because these incorrect quotes are giving me some serious trust issues. Seriously! I would have never guessed. Okay, that’s enough whining on my end. It’s time to dive back into research. I am going to need some wellness quotes when this list is done.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Misattributed to: Mahatma Gandhi

Actual origin: Arleen Lorrance (Theodore W. Parker)

This inspiring quote is often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, but there is no evidence to support that he ever said it. The phrase was actually coined by Arleen Lorrance in her book “Choosing Light-Heartedness, A 33-Day Journey to Overcome Anxiety, Depression, and Dysfunctional Family Issues.”

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Misattributed to: Voltaire

Actual origin: Evelyn Beatrice Hall (writing about Voltaire)

Often associated with the French philosopher Voltaire, this quote was actually written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall in her biography of Voltaire. It serves as a paraphrase of his ideas on freedom of speech.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Misattributed to: Oscar Wilde

Actual origin: Charles Caleb Colton

Although this quote is frequently credited to Oscar Wilde, it was actually written by Charles Caleb Colton, an English cleric and writer, in his book “Lacon.”

Let them eat cake. Photo of pink cake.

Incorrect Quotes: “I never said most of the things I said.”

Misattributed to: Yogi Berra

Actual origin: Unknown

This humorous quote is often attributed to the famous baseball player and coach Yogi Berra. However, its true origin remains unknown, and it has been attributed to various individuals over time.

“You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.”

Winston Churchill is credited with this line, but what he actually said was this:

“What is the use of living if it is not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone? How else can we put ourselves in harmonious relation with the great verities and consolations of the infinite and the eternal? And I avow my faith that we are marching towards better days. Humanity will not be cast down. We are going on swinging bravely forward along the grand high road, and already behind the distant mountains is the promise of the sun.”

Incorrect Quotes: “Luke, I am your Father.”

This one is less of a quote that was misattributed and more of an example of something iconic that actually never happened! The Actual line was, “No, I am your Father.”  It’s a small change, but considering how well-known the line above is…it’s a shocking one to say the least.

incorrect quotes

These famous incorrect quotes serve as a reminder that misinformation can persist even in the realm of popular sayings. While some of these misattributions may have arisen from genuine mistakes, others emerged through the collective misremembering or misinterpretation of historical figures and their works.

By delving into the true origins of these quotes, my hope is that I can gain a better understanding of the complex nature of language, memory, and the way information spreads throughout society. All of this is a very fancy way of saying that I want to learn as much accurate history as I can so that I can move forward with fewer trust issues.

If you enjoyed these famous incorrect quotes, I really think you are going to get a kick out of these copycat quotes.