These Quotes Are Famous, But Are They Real?
Misquote: “If you build it, they
line from the movie is actually “If you build it, he will come.”
Referring to a baseball field and long dead much maligned
baseball player Shoeless Joe Jackson.
Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.)
Real: "I am the greatest."
And he was!!!
Real: "Put your name on something, it better be the best."
Put your name on something, it better be the best . . . you only get one shot: George Foreman, great boxer, gentleman, and grill salesman.
John F. Kennedy
Real: "And so, my Fellow
Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can
do for you country."
Excerpt from the John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20,1961.
John F. Kennedy
Real: "Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind."
From an address to the UN General Assembly, September 25, 1961.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still
have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream
. . .
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a
nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by
the content of their character . . . I have a dream today!"
from the Martin Luther King, Jr. "I have a Dream" speech," August 28,
Real: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
Real: "Light a candle instead of cursing the darkness."
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Real: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
The quote (referring to the Great Depression) is taken from Roosevelt's
first inaugural address, March 4, 1933: So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief
that the only thing we have to fear is . . . fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance: It was a beginning!
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Real: "A date which will live in infamy."
refers to December 7, 1941, and the sneak attack by the Empire of Japan on the United States at Pearl Harbor. The following day America declared war, patriotism reborn, the slogan "Remember December 7th" a rallying cry.
"Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much."
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt
Real: "Speak softly and carry a big stick."
aforementioned words, a linchpin of Roosevelt's foreign policy, would
eventually manifest themselves in the Great White Fleet and its epic
ostensibly a showcase of goodwill (naval courtesy calls were not
uncommon in the nineteenth century) the underlying reason for the
deployment of such a large force of modern warships was clear: The
United States had come of age and was not to be trifled with.
“Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.”
“Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit
Real: "I believe it is peace for our time."
Spoken by a jubilant Chamberlain, following a meeting with Adolf Hitler, September 30, !938. (Appeasement
as a policy proved ineffectual, however, and the United Kingdom and
France were obligated [by treaty] to declare war on Germany following
its invasion of Poland less than a year later.)
shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the
seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing
strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may
be. we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing
grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the hills; we shall never
in his element: The quote from a speech preparing the British people
for invasion without admitting the possibility of defeat.
Real: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
Winston at his best: The quote from a speech extolling the heroism of RAF pilots in the Battle of Britain (originally
"Never in the history of mankind . . ." it was changed when someone
pointed out the contribution of Jesus and his disciples).
“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the
gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
“Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way
that they ask for directions.”
“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with
the average voter.”
Real: "I came, I saw, I conquered."
words sent in a letter to the Senate following a quick Roman victory at
the battle of Zela, 47 BCE.
misquote: "The die is cast."
reports the words were "Let the die be cast," Suetonius "The die has
been cast," as the phrase uttered by Caesar as he crossed the Rubicon river, January
of 49 BCE, an army at his back in contravention of Roman Law.
phrase has been used many times since as an indicator that events have
passed a point of no return.
"Et tu, Brute?"
The question "Et tu, Brute?" Latin for "and you, Brutus?" or "you too, Brutus?"
 is said to have been asked by Caesar of his protege and friend Marcus Junius
at the moment of his assassination. There is no proof of this, however, and in fact historians
Plutarch and Suetonius both maintained Caesar, after at first resisting the conspirators, fell silent resigned to his fate.
Misattribution: "There's a sucker born every minute."
Barnum's biographer, Arthur H. Saxon, after attempting, unsuccessfully, to track down when
Barnum uttered the phrase stated: "There's no
(verifiable) contemporary account of it . . . Barnum
was just not the
type to disparage his patrons." Aside from Barnum the saying has been attributed to the likes of saloon owner Michael Cassius
McDonald and confidence man Hungry Joe Lewis, and referred to, in
general, as a catch-phrase among gamblers. An earlier form of the phrase "That there vash von fool born every minute" can be found in the January 1806 edition of The European Magazine in an article titled Essay on False Genius.
means to attribute incorrectly: Famous
people (especially men) tend to get notable sayings attributed to them.
In the case of Et tu, Brute? its popularity stems from its occurrence in
Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar (circa 1599), where it forms the first part of a macaronic line: "Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar!"
words have also been interpreted to mean "Your turn next" a prophetic
foretelling of Brutus' own not so pleasant passing.
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