Throughout history, famous people have been often misquoted and their misquotes have been the words generations have lived by. This can have happened for a variety of reasons: some originals quotes may frankly have been â downright clumsy. Others donât seem to match the style of language expected from a person. Some other times, the misquotes were attributed to a particular person simply for propaganda reasons!
Following is a list of the most famous, well known quotes â which are, in actuality.. misquoted!
Quote: âI disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.â (âJe dĂŠsapprouve ce que vous dites, mais je dĂŠfendrai Ă la mort votre droit Ă le direâ)
What Voltaire actually said was, âThink for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.â â From Voltaireâs Essay on Tolerance. Honestly, the two quotes donât really seem to have the âsameâ ring as each other.
The misquote in actuality comes from a 1907 book called Friends of Voltaire by Evelyn Beatrice Hall.
Quote: âI cannot tell a lie. It was I who chopped down the cherry tree.â
Washington, in reality, never said this! In fact, the story was first told in the 1800s by the biographer Parson Weems. In Weemâs book, the tree was NOT chopped down.
Quote: âAnything that can go wrong, willâ (Murphyâs Law)
Edward Murphy sure didnât say that. What he is mostly likely to have said would something in the neighborhood of: âIf thereâs more than one way to do a job and one of those ways will result in a disaster, then somebody will do it that way anyway?â
Absolutely, Mr. Murphy!
Quote: âThe only two certainties in life are death and taxes.â
This, seems to be more of a misattribution problem than that of misquotation. Mark Twain wasnât really the one who had coined this phrase, it was actually coined by Edward Ward in his 1724 âDancing Devilsâ where he wrote âDeath and Taxes, they are certain.â
Then then there was Christopher Bullock had written in his âCobbler of Prestonâ (1716), ââTis impossible to be sure of anything but death and taxes!â
Quote: âGild the lilyâ
The above is a misquote from Shakespeareâs King John. The real quote however goes something like this â âTo gild refined gold, to paint the lily.â
Quote: âThe ends justify the means.â
Well, at the most, this is a very liberal interpretation of what Machiavelli really wanted to say â which was â âOne must consider the final result.â
Quote: âThe only traditions of the Royal Navy are rum, sodomy and the lash.â
Churchill definitely didnât say that at all â but his assistant, Anthony Montague Brown did. Funny story â Churchill however DID wish he had said it!
Quote: âIf they have no bread, let them eat cake!â (âSâils nâont plus de pain, quâils mangent de la brioche.â)
This is probably the most unfortunate quote that has been attributed to Mary Antoinette and for a more malicious reason than a simple error of misquotation.
The Queen has been much maligned over this quote and believe it not, she didnât even say it! It was in reality from the book of Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in which he had said, âI recalled the make-shift of a great princess who was told that the peasants had no bread and who replied, âLet them each brioche!â.â
The attribution was most likely a result of the strong anti-royal propaganda during an absolutely troubled time in the French history.
Quote: âThe British are coming!â
Wikipedia suggests that Revereâs mission depended on secrecy and the countryside was filled with the British Army patrols; also most colonial residents at the time considered themselves British. So the quotation is more likely based on (though not taken verbatim from) the later famous poem, âPaul Revereâs Ride.â
Quote: âThe only good Indian is a dead Indian.â
Allegedly, what General Sheridan really said was something on the lines of, âThe only good Indians I ever saw were dead.â He actually denied saying anything remotely like this. Whoâs to know!