People Who Never Said Their Most Famous Quotes

Every idiot knows who said "Elementary, my dear Watson," right? It was definitely Sherlock Holmes. You've heard that quote a ton of times and there's no way he didn't say that exact line. Except, he didn't. In all of Arthur Conan Doyle's writings, Sherlock never said "Elementary, my dear Watson." The closest quote was "'Elementary' said he." Not quite as catchy.

Now that your faith in all you know and love is shattered, here are some more people who never said their most famous quotes.

"Beware the leaders who bang the drums of war" - William Shakespeare

Sometimes "Beware the leaders who bang the drums of war" is attributed to Julius Caesar. Other times, it's to William Shakespeare as written for his character Caesar. But no matter which one it is given credit, it doesn't matter. Neither of them ever said that. The idea of getting a Caesar quote wrong is slightly understandable. It was a long time ago, and all history of the time has been translated many times before it could show up in meme form. But Shakespeare? Come on! It's so easy to find everything Shakespeare has written. Especially when you only have to search for Julius Caesar's lines in Julius Caesar.

But why would someone make up this quote? Well, according to Ralph Keyes in his book Nice Guys Finish Seventh, people always love hearing quotes from famous folks of the past that seem prescient about the future. So, why not make up something profound sounding and attribute it to the greatest writer of all time or an ancient leader? You know it will get clicks, and you get to share your important take on the ills of the world today. Despite how easy this quote is to disprove, Internet folk have been circulating this one since 2001. So, why work too hard to get a viral meme when you could just slap Shakespeare's name on it?

"All sex is rape" -Catherine MacKinnon

If you ever listen to radical right-wing radio personalities talk about feminism (and if you do, you don't deserve such torture), you'll hear them talk about the feminist quote "All sex is rape." It's not always directly attributed, just taken as the platform of "feminazis," but when they do give credit, it usually goes to Catherine MacKinnon. Not to be confused with the hilarious SNL star Kate McKinnon, Catherine MacKinnon was an ardent feminist and anti-porn crusader, and her opponents falsely put this quote in her mouth.

MacKinnon claims that Playboy was the first one to accuse her of saying "All sex is rape." Over time, she was also accused of saying "All men are rapists" and "All sex is sexual harassment." Since she was working hard to put restrictions on pornography, a magazine like Playboy wanted to discredit her. In reality, MacKinnon was outspoken and felt that porn violated human rights, but she mostly fought for sexual assault to be considered a form of sex discrimination.

The quote and its variations are also occasionally attributed to another feminist, Andrea Dworkin, and once MacKinnon teamed up with her to fight porn, the "All sex is rape" quote stuck to her like glue, according to Barbara Mikkelson of Snopes. To be clear, Dworkin didn't say the line either. She once said, "Penetrative intercourse is, by its nature, violent. But I'm not saying that sex must be rape. What I think is that sex must not put women in a subordinate position. It must be reciprocal and not an act of aggression from a man looking only to satisfy himself. That's my point."

That sounds reasonable. But it would be pretty hard for Rush Limbaugh to remember all those pretty words, so he right stuck with the most reductive way to read that statement, i.e., "All sex is rape."

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." - Nelson Mandela

It's not hard to believe that Nelson Mandela would say "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." It's beautiful, inspirational, and profound. Of course you want to put that saying against a sunset or a really soulful looking dog and post it on Facebook.

Given the title of the article, it's clear that Mandela never said such a thing. But this time, the quote wasn't fabricated from whole cloth. It was plagiarized from a book called Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. When she saw her words floating around the Internet under another name, she said, "Several years ago, this paragraph from A Return to Love began popping up everywhere, attributed to Nelson Mandela's 1994 inaugural address. As honored as I would be had President Mandela quoted my words, indeed he did not. I have no idea where that story came from, but I am gratified that the paragraph has come to mean so much to so many people." Combining her lovely original quote and her complete graciousness when tons of people tried to rip her off, we should all be bigger fans of her work.

"...And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience" - Meryl Streep

Even before Meryl Streep's incendiary speech about a terribly performing president, Streep had a few circulating quote memes. There was the one with a picture of her from 1982 on the subway talking about how she was considered "too ugly" for a part. Then, there was her big quote about the things she no longer has patience for. That got quite a few "This!," "YAAAS!," and "This YAAAAS!!!" comments from fans of the meme.

The words are empowering, and who doesn't want to hear it's okay for them to be totally over all the a-holes in their life? So, who really said it? Well, not quite Meryl Streep.

José Micard Teixeira, a Portuguese life coach, penned the quote and asked Facebook to correct his stolen words. Figuring that a Portuguese life coach might not get quite the clicks of the most respected actress of all time, some Internet fool paired his words with her face and went instantly viral.

Oh, just so you know, that Streep "too ugly for the part" meme is fake, too.

"The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." - Mark Twain

This quote has stuck around because everybody loves a chance to make fun of San Francisco. It's a beautiful, cultured city that's too expensive for most normal folk to ever live in, so we have to take them down a peg. This quote seems perfectly suited to Mark Twain, who had a litany of one-liners and clever stories to his credit. So, how is the quote false?

This misappropriation isn't a complete lie. Though Twain definitely never said it in such a distinct form, he said something similar in a personal letter. He was retelling a conversation he overheard where someone asked "Have you ever seen such a cold winter?" and the other man replied, "Last summer." Twain then wrote his little comeback "I judge he spent his summer in Paris." So, San Francisco was never mentioned at all, and more than half of the quote was Twain quoting someone else. It doesn't seem reason enough to stop using the phrase, but we should just change it so it's making fun of France, as Twain originally intended.

"Life is hard; it's even harder when you're stupid." - John Wayne

Straight-talking John Wayne, the symbol of the "good old days" (for white Republican males) is the ideal mouthpiece for a good quote. Plus, people like to take any opportunity to call someone else stupid. It's just human nature.

This meme is just another victim of putting a clickable quote in a famous person's mouth. If you comb through all of Wayne's films, he never came anywhere near saying a line like this. Instead, the line comes through almost verbatim in the book Friends of Eddie Coyle and its 1973 film adaptation. But nobody remembers Friends of Eddie Coyle, and linking to the Wikipedia page for the book to explain the circumstances of what make the quote work isn't very shareable content. So they stuck it on John Wayne, and we were all gifted another cowboy quote from the fictional golden age of the '50s.

"Well behaved women rarely make history" - Marilyn Monroe

People love quoting Marilyn Monroe almost as much as they love inventing conspiracy theories about her. But, like the conspiracies, most of her quotes aren't real. One of her most beloved memes is "Well behaved women rarely make history." This is a real quote, though not from Ms. Monroe.

The line really belongs to Laurel Thatcher Ulrich from an academic paper in 1976. She did use the word "seldom" as opposed to "rarely," but the quote clearly should be attributed to Ulrich. It's a little sad that a quote from a Pulitzer Prize–winning professor would hardly get any clicks. But throw Marilyn's face on it? Click central. You could use this to your advantage. Anytime you're desperate for likes, just find a couple words that sound vaguely feminist and empowering and throw it on a sexy Marilyn pic. Your likes will light up like firecrackers!

"Strategery" - George W. Bush

"George W. Bush said something stupid? Get out of town!" is something we never said from 2000–2008. Since the man was a malapropism factory, you really could put any dumb thing in his mouth, and the most skeptical of us would have believed it. In fact, this quote was so believable, it tricked Bush himself.

The Saturday Night Live sketch mocking the first presidential debate between Al Gore and George W. Bush was one of their best political pieces. It gave us the phrase "lock box," proved you could find a way to make Al Gore not boring, and showed America how great Will Ferrell's Bush impression was. It was so good, people just assumed the actor was quoting the president when he said "strategery."

But Lorne Michaels, SNL producer, insists that the writers created that word for the sketch. Bush had certainly mispronounced other words, but that particular gem was made up just for comedy. Still, "strategery" became synonymous with the president. So much so, that in a recent interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Bush swears he did say "strategery" before the SNL sketch. On the show he recalled:

"I said, 'Wait a minute, I said strategery.' And (Michaels) said, 'No, you didn't say strategery.'

"I said, 'I (expletive) sure said strategery.'

"He said, 'We invented it,' [and] I said, 'Well, let me ask you this. Did you come up with misunderestimate?'"

Though one would usually believe the person arguing about their own words, in this case, we trust that Michaels remembers Bush's words better than he does.

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt" - Abraham Lincoln

It's such a shame that this quote doesn't really belong to Abraham Lincoln. It doesn't belong to Mark Twain either, who sometimes gets this line thrown his way. It's just such a witty way to call somebody a dummy, we'd like to believe our presidents are capable of these kind of pithy putdowns. The Yale Book of Quotations tracks this quote back to 1931, in Golden Book Magazine, but the real saying goes back a lot further.

This exact phrasing doesn't seem to be said by anyone, but a similar idea comes from the Bible. In Proverbs 17:28, you'll find "Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding." So, it looks like God is the author of this sick burn. Well, He wrote it through some guys, who then had it translated by some dudes, who then had King James give it his special touch, but on the whole, you could give this one up to God.

Like Twain and Monroe, Lincoln is often misquoted. So, next time you see any of those on your Facebook wall, take a second to figure out if it's something you really want to share or just a cool-sounding thing matched with an equally cool celebrity. In the end, here's one Lincoln quote you can live by: