57 Misquoted Sayings: Familiar Phrases You Thought You Knew

MISQUOTED SAYINGSToday, I thought it would be interesting to explore some misquoted sayings.

Our age is dominated by bite-sized tweets and catchy memes, and it’s easy to forget that some of history’s most iconic quotes have been, well, slightly misquoted.

That’s right! From Shakespeare to Churchill, and from the silver screen to ancient scriptures, people have trimmed, tweaked, and twisted words to fit their own purpose, for the sake of brevity or simply modern sensibilities.

Misquotations often arise because of cultural shifts, simplifications for easier recall, or misinterpretations over time. It’s always intriguing to see how phrases evolve and adapt over the years.

So, come along with me on a delightful journey of debunking! Finding out who said what and whether what we believe nowadays is true or not.

Prepare to be enlightened as I uncover the true essence of 57 famous sayings and quotes that the world has been getting wrong for longer than most of us can remember.

In other words, it’s time to set the record straight!

Enjoy them all and feel free to pass them on.

Misquoted Sayings (1-10):

  1. Misquote: Money is the root of all evil. Actual Quote: For the love of money is the root of all evil. ~1 Timothy 6:10, Bible
  2. Misquote: Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? Actual Quote: Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all? ~Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”
  3. Misquote: Beam me up, Scotty. Actual Quote: This exact phrase was never said in the original Star Trek series. The closest was Beam us up, Mr. Scott.
  4. Misquote: Elementary, my dear Watson. Actual Quote: Sherlock Holmes never says this exact phrase in any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s writings.
  5. Misquote: Luke, I am your father. Actual Quote: No, I am your father. ~Star Wars: Episode V ~The Empire Strikes Back
  6. Misquote: Play it again, Sam. Actual Quote: Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By’. ~Casablanca
  7. Misquote: Let them eat cake. Actual Quote: There’s no verified record of Marie Antoinette ever saying this. It’s widely attributed to her, but its authenticity is doubtful.
  8. Misquote: The proof is in the pudding. Actual Quote: The proof of the pudding is in the eating. ~Old proverb
  9. Misquote: Blood is thicker than water. Actual Quote: The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb. This means relationships formed by choice are often stronger than those formed by birth.
  10. Misquote: Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it burned in one. Actual Quote: The first part, Rome wasn’t built in a day, is a classic proverb. The second part about burning in one day is a modern addition and isn’t part of the original saying.

Misquoted Sayings (11-20):

  1. Misquote: Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him well. Actual Quote: Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio. ~Hamlet” by William Shakespeare
  2. Misquote: I cannot tell a lie. I chopped down the cherry tree. Actual Quote: This is a widely circulated myth. There’s no concrete evidence George Washington ever said this.
  3. Misquote: The lion shall lay down with the lamb. Actual Quote: The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid. ~Isaiah 11:6, Bible
  4. Misquote: Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Actual Quote: Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. ~Lord Acton
  5. Misquote: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Actual Quote: Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned. ~The Mourning Bride” by William Congreve
  6. Misquote: Now is the winter of our discontent. Actual Quote: Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York. ~Richard III by William Shakespeare
  7. Misquote: Gild the lily. Actual Quote: To gild refined gold, to paint the lily. ~King John by William Shakespeare
  8. Misquote: The only thing to fear is fear itself. Actual Quote: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
  9. Misquote: Nice guys finish last. Actual Quote: While this saying is popularly attributed to Leo Durocher, what he said was a bit more complicated: Look at them. All nice guys. They’ll finish last. He was referring to the New York Giants baseball team.
  10. Misquote: If you build it, they will come. Actual Quote: If you build it, he will come. ~Field of Dreams (movie)

Misquoted Sayings (21-30):

  1. Misquote: This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Actual Quote: Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. ~Casablanca (movie)
  2. Misquote: Curiosity killed the cat. Actual Quote: Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back. ~English Proverb
  3. Misquote: Houston, we have a problem. Actual Quote: Houston, we’ve had a problem. ~Jim Lovell during the Apollo 13 mission
  4. Misquote: What we have here is a failure to communicate. Actual Quote: What we’ve got here is failure to communicate. ~Cool Hand Luke (movie)
  5. Misquote: I want to suck your blood! Actual Quote: This exact line was never said by Dracula in Bram Stoker’s original novel.
  6. Misquote: Do you feel lucky, punk? Actual Quote: You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk? ~Dirty Harry (movie)
  7. Misquote: Just the facts, ma’am. Actual Quote: This line is popularly associated with Detective Joe Friday from the show Dragnet, but he never said this exact phrase.
  8. Misquote: Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? Actual Quote: Variations of this quote have been attributed to Mae West, but the exact origin and wording are disputed.
  9. Misquote: Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. Actual Quote: The report of my death was an exaggeration. ~Mark Twain, in response to a newspaper that mistakenly published his obituary.
  10. Misquote: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Actual Quote: This quote is often misattributed to Voltaire. It was written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, summarizing Voltaire’s beliefs in her biography about him.

Misquoted Sayings (31-40):

  1. Misquote: Me Tarzan, you Jane. Actual Quote: This exact line was never said in the original Tarzan movies or books.
  2. Misquote: The British are coming! The British are coming! Actual Quote: Paul Revere likely never shouted this during his midnight ride. He would have been more discreet to avoid British patrols. Historians believe he might have said, The Regulars are out.
  3. Misquote: Wherefore art thou Romeo? Actual Quote: While the quote is correct, its meaning is often misunderstood. “Wherefore” means “why” in Elizabethan English, not “where”. Juliet is lamenting Romeo’s name, not wondering where he is.
  4. Misquote: Methinks the lady doth protest too much. Actual Quote: The lady doth protest too much, methinks. ~Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  5. Misquote: You can’t handle the truth! Actual Quote: You can’t handle the truth! is correct, but it’s often misused outside of its original context from the movie A Few Good Men.
  6. Misquote: Money can’t buy happiness. Actual Quote: The full proverb is Money can’t buy happiness, but it’s more comfortable to cry in a Lamborghini.
  7. Misquote: A rose by any other word would smell as sweet. Actual Quote: A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. ~Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
  8. Misquote: Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast. Actual Quote: Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast. ~The Mourning Bride by William Congreve
  9. Misquote: When in Rome. Actual Quote: The full saying is When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
  10. Misquote: Charity begins at home and justice begins next door. Actual Quote: Charity begins at home, is a popular saying. The addition of “and justice begins next door” is often attributed to Charles Dickens, but he didn’t write the original saying.

Misquoted Sayings (41-50):

  1. Misquote: Let’s roll! Actual Quote: While this phrase is famously associated with Todd Beamer during the 9/11 Flight 93 incident, its meaning and context are sometimes misconstrued in various references.
  2. Misquote: Irregardless. Actual Note: The term people often intend to use is regardless. Irregardless is considered nonstandard.
  3. Misquote: I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Actual Quote: I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse. ~The Godfather (movie)
  4. Misquote: Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges! Actual Quote: Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinking badges! ~The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (movie)
  5. Misquote: The stuff that dreams are made of. Actual Quote: The stuff that dreams are made on. ~The Maltese Falcon (though it’s a play on Shakespeare’s “We are such stuff as dreams are made on” from The Tempest)
  6. Misquote: Home is where the heart is. Actual Note: Often misattributed to Pliny the Elder. The origin is unclear, but it’s believed to come from a more modern source.
  7. Misquote: An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. Actual Note: While this quote is often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, there’s no concrete evidence he ever said or wrote it.
  8. Misquote: Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. Actual Quote: While often attributed to Vince Lombardi, the exact origin is debated. Lombardi did say, Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.
  9. Misquote: Knowledge is power. Actual Quote: Knowledge itself is power. ~Sir Francis Bacon
  10. Misquote: Separation of church and state. Actual Note: While the concept is in the U.S. Constitution, this exact phrase doesn’t appear there. It’s from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association.

Misquoted Sayings (51-57):

  1. Misquote: Pride comes before the fall. Actual Quote: Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. ~Proverbs 16:18, Bible
  2. Misquote: Spare the rod, spoil the child. Actual Quote: He that spareth his rod hateth his son. ~Proverbs 13:24, Bible
  3. Misquote: The clothes make the man. Actual Quote: Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. ~Mark Twain
  4. Misquote: Blood, sweat, and tears. Actual Quote: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. ~Winston Churchill
  5. Misquote: Cleanliness is next to godliness. Actual Note: While this saying is ancient and is often associated with biblical teachings, this exact phrase doesn’t appear in the Bible.
  6. Misquote: The ends justify the means. Actual Note: Often associated with Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” but he didn’t write this exact phrase.
  7. Misquote: Great minds think alike. Actual Quote: Great minds think alike, but fools seldom differ.

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