A List of things never said.

I was wondering if anyone has a good list, or if I can get some ideas here, for a list of things people think were said but were not.

For instance
* Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast*. We all know it’s breast but we say beast.

Or * Play it again Sam*. We all know it was “Play it Sam”

What are some other sayings that people often quote that are wrong?

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” - Alexander Pope.

Actually, what he said was “A little learning is a dangerous thing”, the operative word being “little”, and not “learning”. This, in a strange way, proves the very point he was trying to make.

“That’s entertainment!” —Vlad the Impaler

You can also try the library for They Never Said It : A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Mis-Leading Attributions
Paul F. Boller and John George, Oxford Univ Press; 1989©.

(It is a bit expensive which is why I suggest the library.)


“Ignorance is bliss” (actual quote: Where ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise.)

Your Official Cat Goddess since 10/20/99.

“I get along well with everybody.” --I.M.F.

If you build a better mousetrap, they’ll beat a path to your door.

Can’t remember the real quote, but that ain’t it.

Also, Mae West: “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime?” was actually “Why don’t you come up sometime, and see me.”

I know, I know, but it was.

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The Legend Of PigeonMan - updates every Wed & Sat

“Money is the root of all evil.”


“For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have weandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.”

“The lion shall lie down with the lamb.”


“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
and the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.”
(There are two or three similar verses.)

“East is East and West is West and ne’er the twain shall meet.”

actually goes on to give a different message:

“O East is East and West is West and ne’er the twain shall meet
Til all the world stands presently at God’s great judgement seat.
But there is neither East nor West nor border nor breed nor birth,
When two strong men come face to face, though they come from the ends o’ the earth.”


Nathan Hale’s last words were not, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

Rather, they were, “It is the duty of every good officer to obey any orders given him by his commander-in-chief.”

And, of course, Cary Grant didn’t say “Judy, Judy, Judy,” and James Cagney didn’t say, “You dirty rat!”

“one if by land two if by sea”

The lamps that lit the steeple in Concord that signalled Paul Revere to ride his famous ride is horribly misconstrued. Not only was it not said to Paul Revere but it was never by sea (it was actually if the British were coming by the Charlston River). Oh and it was not to signal Paul Revere, it was actually made as a backup signal by Paul in case he was captured or killed for his comrades across the river.

Interesting, eh?

Here’s a few more I have from a book (Fabulous Fallacies is the book, by the way):

  1. The quote from Hamlet is not, “Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well”. It is, “Alas poor Yorick; I knew him, Horatio.”

  2. P.T. Barnum did not say, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

  3. Sherlock Holmes did not say, “Elementary, my dear Watson.” He did say, “Elementary” however.

  4. Marie Antoinette did not say, “Let them eat cake.”

“My country right or wrong.” Most people quote it out of context. Carl Shurz’s full quote was “My Country right or wrong; when right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right.” Of course, most of the people who use this quote are also unaware of Shurz’s early career as a 19th century communist revolutionary.

The “misquote” of “My country, right or wrong” isn’t from Carl Schurtz. The quote comes from Stephen Decauter, in a toast: “Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong.” It’s dated April 1816, long before Schurtz said much of anything.

Also, Bogart never said “Play it, Sam” either. He merely said “Play it.”

Read “Sundials” in the new issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction.

I’m going from memory here, since I don’t have my Bible at work.

“Pride goeth before a fall.”

is actually

“Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Please correct if my memory has failed me.

Vince Lombardi:

“Winning isn’t everything–it’s the only thing.”

“My misquote, right or wrong.” sez I.

Okay, I’ll concede, on further research, it does appear that Decauter’s “misquote” of “my country, right or wrong” preceded Shurz’s “misquote” of the phrase. And just to muddy up the issue, it also appears that John Quincy Adams also used the phrase as part of a longer quote. In my defense, I still think Shurz misquoted it better than the others.

Ralph Waldo Emerson is often quoted as saying, “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” As a libertarian who argues from reason, I have had this misquote thrown at me many times when people are caught in their own inconsistencies.

What he actually said was “A foolish consistency…”, such as consistently standing on an unreasonable premise.

“It is lucky for rulers that men do not think.” — Adolf Hitler

I love this thread!! Keep them coming people!

“Only when he no longer knows what he is doing, does the painter do good
things.” --Edgar Degas

“Git thar fustest with the mostest” -Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest

Forrest was very literate, and knew how to speak the English language correctly. What he said was “Arrive first, and with the most men”, or something to that effect.

“That’s entertainment!” —Vlad the Impaler

“Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink!”


“Water, water, everywhere, and all the boards did shrink.
Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”

That’s why Coleridge was a poet and we just go around speaking prose.

“Vandelay!! Say Vandelay!!”

Adams was refering to Decatur, and disagreeing with the sentiment.

Of course, George Washington never said, “I chopped it down with my own little hatchet” when his father confronted him about some cherry tree vandalism. In fact, in the original telling of this myth, George didn’t chop down the tree at all. He barked it. (i.e., sliced off the bark in a circle so it would die).

Read “Sundials” in the new issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction.

Bill Gates did not ever say, “64k ought to be enough for anybody.”