Famous Quotes That We've All Been Getting Wrong

Ashley Hunte
A field full of red flowers against a clouded sky.
Unsplash | Henry Be

A good quote can be something to live by (or just something you say to make yourself sound smart). And while there are countless famous quotes out there, not all of them go the way you think.

In fact, a lot of quotes are misused, or misremembered entirely. Whether it's because they're missing some words, or we got the message wrong, here are some famous but generally misused quotes.

"The proof is in the pudding."

A bowl of chocolate pudding with a wooden spoon.
Unsplash | American Heritage Chocolate

To start things off, it actually goes, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." The phrase, which has its roots in the 14th century, means that success should be measured by the quality of the product (whether it's literal pudding or not). The shortened phrase mostly gets that across, at least.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

An image of Gandhi on and Indian banknote.
Unsplash | Ishant Mishra

This quote is famously attributed to Gandhi, even though he never actually said it. What he did say, though, was:

"We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do."

Same thing, right?

"Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest one of all?"

Several gilded ornate mirrors of varying sizes.
Unsplash | Tuva Mathilde Løland

You know that thing the witch says in Snow White? It's actually "Magic mirror on the wall..." It's more or less a case of a really weird Mandela Effect, because people who actually watched the film will still think it's mirror mirror.

"Luke, I am your father."

A cosplayer in a Darth Vader costume.

Possibly one of the most famous movie quotes, and yet it doesn't quite exist. Much like the Snow White quote, we've sort of gotten it wrong. When Luke confronts Darth Vader, the man he thinks killed his father, Vader says, "No, I am your father." Very different tone indeed.

"Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?"

A balcony out of a weathered stone house.
Unsplash | Klemens Köpfle

This famous line uttered by Juliet is mostly told correctly, but few seem to know what it actually means. Juliet isn't asking where Romeo is, she's more or less wondering why he had to be born to a rival family.

"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."

A floral adorned coffin with a stop watch on it.
Unsplash | Mrika Selimi

Though there was a rumor in 1987 that Samuel Clemens AKA Mark Twain had died, he didn't. And while he did say, "The report of my death was an exaggeration," the quote was misremembered and turned into what we know today.

"There's a sucker born every minute."

A circus big top, lit up during an evening.
Unsplash | Gabor Barbely

This quote is associated with circus showman P.T. Barnum. The thing is, no one can actually confirm if he's ever said it or not. In all likelihood, the quote didn't originate from him.

"Elementary, my dear Watson."

Benedict Cumberbatch portrayed Sherlock on the BBC series of the same name.
Giphy | BBC

Technically, you can hear Sherlock Holmes say this incredibly famous quote. In media that was released after Arthur Conan Doyle's novels released. In the original books, he never says that phrase (though he does say "elementary" and "my dear Watson" on different occasions).

"Well behaved women rarely make history."

A book featuring Marilyn Monroe on the front and back cover.
Unsplash | pure julia

Some attribute an iteration of this quote to Marilyn Monroe, but it actually originated from Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. On top of that, she originally meant it to encourage well behaved women to do more important work, not that history makers should be rule breakers (she also actually used "seldom" instead of "rarely").

"Blood is thicker than water."

A blood red rose dripping onto a stained white rose.
Unsplash | Mathilda Khoo

Though it isn't confirmed, the full quote is apparently, "The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb," which would actually change the meaning of the quote. It's all about familial bonds versus, well, any other kind of bond.

"Curiosity killed the cat."

A black and white cat that seemingly has a judgemental glare on its face.
Unsplash | Manja Vitolic

The quote originates as early as 1598 with the play "Every Man in His Humour" by Ben Jonson. In its original form, it's actually "Care killed the cat," meaning that too much worry or care is a bad thing.

"Curiosity killed the cat" (again).

A curious looking cat peeking out an open window.
Unsplash | Bogdan Farca

A quote about curious cats does exist too, but what we generally say is only half of it. In the 1910s, the quote, "Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back" surfaced. So basically, no form of the quote was meant to disparage curiosity.

"Beam me up, Scottie."

Star Trek's Captain Kirk having a meltdown.

When you think of the original Star Trek TV show, you probably think of that quote. But in reality, no one says that phrase during the shows entire run (certainly not Captain Kirk). The most famous quote from the show, and it doesn't even exist.

The Devil's in the details."

A man wearing a demonic mask.
Unsplash | Vladyslav Kuznietsov

This phrase rose from a similar, yet completely different phrase: "God is in the details." While this former phrase is meant to discourage rushing through tasks, the newer one is more about those pesky little details that are easy to overlook.

"Feed a cold, starve a fever."

A man wiping his nose as if he has a cold.
Unsplash | Brittany Colette

The old phrase is thought to originate from the middle ages, where not eating was believed to cool the body and therefore reverse the effects of a fever. But modern medicine can confirm that this quote is actually misinformed. Rest, fluids, and food are the best way to help your body recover from a cold or fever.

"Money is the root of all evil."

Different currency banknotes, including a US dollar bill and a Euro.
Unsplash | Omid Armin

The quote is from a Bible proverb that actually says, "For the love of money the root of all kinds of evil." The actual quote puts more of an onus on greed than money itself, but the meaning doesn't change too much.

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

A lone red rose, covered in drops of dew.
Unsplash | Ameen Fahmy

Not long after she asks, "Wherefore art thou Romeo?" Juliet further soliloquizes, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet," basically trying to rationalize the fact that she loves him despite his family name.

In most media and speech, the quote gets abridged, but it at least keeps its original meaning.

"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."

A black and white image of a woman screaming in rage.
Unsplash | Simran Sood

Though the line sounds like it might've been something Shakespeare wrote, it's actually from a play by William Congreve. The full quote is, "Heav'n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn'd, Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn'd."

"Let them eat cake."

A white frosted cake with chocolate ganache dripping from the top.
Unsplash | American Heritage Chocolate

A famous quote attributed to Marie Antoinette, who supposedly said it in response to learning that peasants had no bread. But as it turns out, she probably never said it to begin with. In other words, the cake is a lie.

"The lion shall lay with the lamb."

A lion walking through some grass.
Unsplash | Francesco

This is another quote that got shortened by a lot, and got its origins from the Bible. The full quote is, "The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them." Apparently it's supposed to be about all of God's creatures playing nice.