They said what? Famous quotes you thought you knew

They say “the devil is in the details” but did you know that that’s a misquote? Ludwig Mies van der Rohe actually wrote “God is in the details.”

Don't believe everything you read online! Just because it's in a fancy mock-up on Instagram doesn't mean it's legit. What else have we been misquoting? Below are 10 examples of famous quotes that are actually misquotes!


#1 → "Luke, I am your father."

This famous line from Star Wars V is a misquote! In this classic reveal scene, Darth Vader actually said "No, I am your father." 

Don't believe us? Check out The Empire Strikes Back for yourself!


#2 → "The ends justify the means."

Ever heard anyone who's about to do something questionable "quote" Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince with this line? Whoops. Guess they should have read the book, because it doesn't actually make an appearance. This famous line is actually a variation on a quote attributed to the poet Ovid who wrote in Heroides: “The result justifies the deeds.” 

Don't believe us? Check out Heroides for yourself!

#3 → "Let them eat cake."

This infamous misquote is a perfect example of how misinformation can add fuel to the fire. This line was actually published in 1782 by Jean-Jaques Rousseau in his book Confessions, a whole 11 years before Marie Antoinette was executed during the French Revolution. Also, it was "Let them eat brioche." which is a heavy bread-like French pastry.  

Don't believe us? Check out Confessions for yourself!

#4 → "Well-behaved women rarely make history."

Did you know that there are many quotes attributed to Marilyn Monroe that she never said? Well, this is one of them! This famous line is actually "well-behaved women seldom make history." and was penned by writer and Harvard professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich 1976. She went on to publish a book of the same title in 2007.  

Don't believe us? Check out Well-behaved Women Seldom Make History for yourself!

#5 → "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

This famous misquote of Alexander Pope's "A little learning is a dangerous thing" was originally published in a newspaper by a reporter who mixed up their words. Since then, the misquote has become popularized far beyond the original quote. Now, that's ironic.   

Don't believe us? Check out An Essay on Criticism for yourself!

#6 →"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our
          deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."

The internet can almost get us to believe anything. This famous quote wasn't anything Nelson Mandela ever said or wrote. It was actually written by self-help guru Marianne Wilson, and you can find it in her book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles published in 1992.    

Don't believe us? Check out A Return to Love for yourself!

#7 → "Mirror mirror on the wall... Who's the fairest of them all?"

If this one slipped by unnoticed, you get a pass (it snuck by us too). In Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the Evil Queen summons the mirror by saying "Magic mirror on the wall... Who's the fairest of them all" and doesn't double up on "mirror."   

Don't believe us? Check out Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for yourself!

#8 → "We're not in Kansas anymore."

Sometimes a misquote can become so iconic it's not even questioned! This is definitely one of them. What Dorothy actually said when she landed in the magical land of Oz with her canine companion was "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."    

Don't believe us? Check out The Wizard of Oz for yourself!

#9 → "A rose by any other name smells just as sweet."

Surprised? So were we! This misquote can be credited to William Shatner in his role as Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek: The Original Series Season 2, Episode 22, By Any Other Name. This famous line was originally penned by William Shakespeare and appears in his play, Romeo and Juliet as "That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet."     

Don't believe us? Check out Romeo and Juliet for yourself!

#10 → "Play it again, Sam."

Even the classic film Casablanca, directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman can't escape misquotes! This might be the most misquoted line in cinema history. Surprised? Bergman in her role as Ilsa Lund has the following exchange:

Ilsa: Play it once, Sam. For old times' sake.
Sam: I don't know what you mean, Miss Ilsa.
Ilsa: Play it, Sam. Play "As Time Goes By."

Don't believe us? Check out Casablanca for yourself!

Did any of these surprise you?

Next time you go to post that inspiring Marilyn Monroe quote on social, follow these tips to make sure you're not spreading misinformation:

1. Look it up!
Where did you see this quote? Was it on the news? From a friend? Did it come up in your Facebook feed? Think critically about the source--is it subjective or objective? Sometimes all you need is a simple Google search to verify that it's legit. If that doesn't work, check the original source by reading the book or watching the movie!

2. Don't fall for clickbait!
Did you see that quote that's perfect for your IG story in the title of an article? A lot of headlines are meant to catch your eye and are shocking on purpose. Better read the whole thing, because it may contradict what the title says. 

Pro-Tip Check out the author and their sources. Ask yourself the following questions: Who are they? Do they cite their sources? Are the sources they cite credible?

3. Ask a Librarian!
Ask a librarian , opens a new window
if you’re still unsure! Librarians are literally experts when it comes to information. If you can't figure out if Abraham Lincoln really said that thing you saw on Pinterest, get in touch with us to verify the source! Markham Public Library is here to support you, and this is just one way your local library can help!

And remember...