As posted on 10 famous quotes that you probably misattributed
Through the years, we have all had many inspirational or witty quotes from role models, movies or actors plastered all over our Tumblr or Myspace pages to seem super cool, sophisticated and smart. These quotes just spoke to our souls and captured the middle school/teenage angst we were all feeling as one collective, moody unit.
Well get ready to delete your accounts and throw your diplomas out the window, because so many famous quotes are badly misattributed.
Chances are, other people said those pretty words you love. So, you are about to find out the less-cool origin of some of your favorite quotes.
1. “Elementary my dear Watson.” —Sherlock Holmes
Oh yeah, that’s Sherlock Holmes, right? NOPE. Sherlock Holmes has said both "elementary" and "dear, Watson" at some point, but never together. According to Sherlockian, the foremost authority on everything Sherlock Homes, the phrase is from P.G. Wodehouse’s novel Psmith, Journalist published in 1915. Although the novel does not star Sherlock Holmes, Wodehouse does reference him while writing this now famous line.
2. “I cannot tell a lie.” —George Washington
There’s the well-known story of little George Washington admitting to his father that he cut down a cherry tree, affirming, "I cannot tell a lie". Well, his honestly may as well be a lie because Washington did not say this. Writer Mason Locke Weems added this detail in a biography about Washington, embellishing on his saintly nature. If you can’t trust George Washington, who can you trust?
3. “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” — Vince Lombardi
Famed Green Bay Packers coach is often credited with using this phrase to motivate players and describe a passion for football. If you were a young boy who had a poster of this in your room to motivate yourself to play better, I’m sorry to tell you that Lombardi isn’t the man you should be thanking. Lombardi did say this, but Red Sanders, UCLA Bruins football coach said it first.
4. "Well-behaved women rarely make history." — Marilyn Monroe
Ah, Marilyn. Probably the most misquoted woman in all of history. Working to her advantage, the many quotes misattributed to her have somewhat shaped the way society admires her. In 2007, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, a female historian, wrote a book titled, "Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History." While some believe she stole this phrase form the blonde beauty, she was in fact the originator. Ulrich first wrote the phrase in 1976 for an issue of "American Quarterly" in reference to colonial woman who are not featured in our history books because they are considered to be "well-behaved."
5. "The ends justify the means." — Niccolo Machiavelli
Niccolo Machiavelli may have had some suspect political beliefs, but people took his words to heart. In his book The Prince, Machiavelli argues that people will always honor and and praise the means a prince uses in order to reach a greater end. Although Machiavelli is credited with this phrase, the idea was not entirely his own. According to Business Insider, in "Heroides II," the Roman poet Ovid writes, "Exitus acta probat," which translates as "the outcome justifies the means." Machiavelli references this idea to make the larger point about the relationship between a prince and his subjects, but did not come up with it.
Are you questioning your whole education yet?
6. "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." — Albert Einstein
We’ve used this one to describe everything from our own behavior to that of a friend that just won’t quit their ex. Although we’d like to credit genius Albert Einstein for this nugget of wisdom, unfortunately, we can’t. An editor at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in Montana named Michael Becker credits this quote to Rita Mae Brown, the mystery novelist. She attributes this phrase to the fictional Jane Fulton in her 1983 book Sudden Death writing, "Unfortunately, Susan didn’t remember what Jane Fulton once said. ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.’"
Sorry Al, we’ll give you the Theory of Relativity, but not this quote.
7. “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” — Oscar Wilde
Was this your senior quote? Well, your yearbook is a lie because Oscar Wilde didn’t say this.
This quote reads like something Oscar Wilde might’ve said, but it never actually shows up in his writings. It might be a composition of his ideas, but not a direct quote. In his De Profundis letter, Wilde wrote, “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” And in an 1882 book introduction, he wrote, “One’s real life is so often the life that one does not lead.”
Both great quotes to keep in mind, but not the one you so desperately clung onto in high school.
8. and 9. “Strategery.” — George W. Bush and “I can see Russia from my house.” — Sarah Palin
Saturday Night Live is famous for its impressions of everyone from actors to singers to serious politicians. The political impressions on SNL are so amazingly accurate that they are often regarded as having influence over the way an audience views a candidate. This phenomenon is so present that some people believe that words spoken by SNL cast members doing an impression of a politician are the actual words spoken by the politicians themselves. In 2000 when George W. Bush ran for president against Al Gore, cast members Will Ferrell and Darrell Hammond played Bush and Gore, respectively. During a sketch, satirizing the first presidential debate, Ferrell played Bush and used the word "strategery" to describe the best argument for his campaign. The joke was in reference to Bush’s reputation for mispronouncing words and was a jab at his intelligence. People credited Bush with saying the word, rather than Ferrell, proving the power of Ferrell’s impression.
In 2008 when Barack Obama ran against John McCain, SNL pulled out their biggest guns to create possibly one of the greatest impressions of all time. Cast member Tina Fey portrayed McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, to impeccable, almost frightening, accuracy. Because Fey looked so much like Palin, the two were very often confused. In an interview with ABC News’ Charlie Gibson, Palin was asked how Alaska’s proximity to Russia gave her insight into the country’s affairs. Palin responded, “They’re our next-door neighbors. And you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska." But, she did not say “I can see Russia from my house." That was all Fey, who transformed herself so seamlessly into character that the two women became interchangeable to the audience.
10. “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” — Abraham Lincoln
On Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017 the GOP tweeted a picture of the Lincoln memorial with this quote from Abraham Lincoln to celebrate the president’s birthday.
But, uh, he never said it. It is traced back to a man named Edward J. Stieglitz. An advertisement for Mr. Stieglitz’s book, The Second Forty Years, contained the phrase, "The important thing to you is not how many years in your life, but how much life in your years!"
Don’t feel bad if you thought Lincoln said this. His own party did, too.