16 Historical Quotes Most People Get Wrong

Photo Credit: 1. Pineapples101 / MovieStillsDB 2. NASA / Wikimedia Commons 3. zs93 / MovieStillsDB

There’s a quote for everything these days, and we feel clever when we’re able to spout one to others. However, we recently learned we’ve been misquoting these phrases all this time, leaving us pretty embarrassed. The following are a few of the most misquoted quotes of all time.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Darth vader reaching out to luke skywalker

Stars Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, 1980. (Photo Credit: Zayne / MovieStillsDB)

This is one Star Wars fans love to hold above everyone’s heads.

“Luke, I am your father,” from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, is probably the most quoted line in all of cinema, but it’s not correct. What Darth Vader actually says is, “No, I am your father.”

Winston Churchill

Portrait of winston churchill

Winston Churchill, 1941. (Photo Credit: LibraryArchives / Wikimedia Commons)

Those working toward their goals know the path is paved with “blood, sweat and tears,” but did you know that’s not actually the proper quote? According to historians, Winston Churchill actually said, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

“Blood, sweat and tears” has a much better ring to it, in our opinion.

The Godfather

Amerigo bonasera speaking into don corelone's ear

The Godfather, 1972. (Photo Credit: Barney112 / MovieStillsDB)

Is there a better film out there than Francis Coppola’s The Godfather? We don’t think so. Marlon Brando was superb as Don Corleone, and we can’t imagine anyone else playing the role.

Fans of the film are always quoting his “I wanna make him an offer he can’t refuse” line, but have you ever thought it sounded a bit off? That’s because it’s actually “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Ludwig mies van der rohe wearing a suit

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1934. (Photo Credit: Hugo Erfurth / Wikimedia Commons)

“The devil is in the details” is actually “God is in the details.”

We’re not going to lie, we never knew architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was the author of this quote. In fact, we didn’t even know he existed until we started researching this article. But now that we have this knowledge, you can bet we’ll be sharing it.


Chief brody holding a walkie talkie

Jaws, 1975. (Photo Credit: johnmorghen / MovieStillsDB)

Jaws is considered one of the best films of all time, and most Steven Spielberg fans have watched it. (It’s also given one too many people an irrational fear of sharks.)

Right before the shark appears behind the Orca, Chief Brody says, “You’re going to need another boat.” That’s slightly different from how most people quote the line: “We’re going to need another boat.”

Neil Armstrong

Neil armstrong in his spacesuit

Neil Armstrong, 1969. (Photo Credit: NASA / Wikimedia Commons)

Everyone who witnessed the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969 remembers astronaut Neil Armstrong saying, “That’s one small step for man,” upon leaping off the lunar lander. What many might not know is that the transmission cut out slightly. What Armstrong actually said was, “That’s one small step for a man.”

William Congreve

Portrait of william congreve

William Congreve, 1709. (Photo Credit: Godfrey Kneller / Wikimedia Commons)

“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” is a pretty accurate saying – you don’t want to cross a woman, lest you get some serious payback. Unfortunately, that’s not what William Congreve wrote. The actual quote is, “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”

The Wizard of Oz

Dorothy holding toto

The Wizard of Oz, 1939. (Photo Credit: zs93 / MovieStillsDB)

The 1939 film adaption of The Wizard of Oz is a Vintage hollywood classic. It’s filled with iconic lines, including, “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.” What would you say if we told you that you’ve been misquoting this? The sentence is actually slightly longer, as Dorothy says, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

Portrait of theodore roosevelt

President Theodore Roosevelt, 1904. (Photo Credit: Pach Bros. / Wikimedia Commons)

The inspiration for the Teddy bear often has “Walk softly, but carry a big stick” attributed to him, but this would be incorrect. The former president was much more well-spoken. What Roosevelt actually said was, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

Now this is advice we can live by.


Portrait of ghandi

Ghandi, 1931. (Photo Credit: Elliott & Fry / Wikimedia Commons)

One of the most inspirational quotes by a historical figure is Ghandi’s “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” However, he never said this. The actual quote is longer and phrased differently, according to the New York Times: “If we can change ourselves, the tendencies of the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him… We need not wait to see what others do.”

Doesn’t have quite the same effect, does it?

Field of Dreams

Ray kinsella holding a baseball above his head

Field of Dreams, 1989. (Photo Credit: mdew / MovieStillsDB)

1989’s Field of Dreams tells the tale of Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella, who builds a baseball diamond in his cornfield after hearing a voice. While many believe this mystical voice tells Kinsella that “If you build it, they will come,” it’s actually a bit more direct, saying, “If you build it, he will come,” in reference to Shoeless Joe Jackson.


Portrait of machiavelli

Machiavelli. (Photo Credit: nickniko / Wikimedia CC BY-SA 4.0)

Philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli has many phrases attributed to him, including the often quoted, “The ends justify the means.” However, there appears to have been some sort of mistranslation, as he never actually said this. The actual quote is, “One must consider the final result.”

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Maleficent holding a goblet

Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, 1937. (Photo Credit: tardis2006johnb / MovieStillsDB)

One of the most memorable movie quotes of all time comes from Disney’s Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. Maleficent says it to the magic mirror, before poisoning Snow White with her poison apple.

The majority of fans believe she asks, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all,” but she actually references its magical powers, saying, “Magic mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest one of all.”


Three witches standing on a hill

Macbeth, 1948. (Photo Credit: MoviePics1001 / MovieStillsDB)

Oh, Shakespeare, we love to hate him. Did anyone actually read his plays in high school, or did you use cheat notes? If you did the latter, you’re probably responsible for misquoting this famous line from Macbeth: “Double, double, toil and trouble.” Most people say “Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble” instead!

Dirty Harry

Inspector harry callahan holding out his gun

Dirty Harry, 1971. (Photo Credit: Moviefan2 / MovieStillsDB)

Are you a true Clint Eastwood fan if you don’t quote his films at least five times a day? Most are familiar with the phrase “Do you feel lucky, punk?” from Dirty Harry, but what you might not be aware of is it’s a misquote. What Inspector Harry Callahan actually says is, “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?”

We think we’ll stick with the misquote. It sounds a lot cooler.

More from us: 28 brilliant quotes from Muhammad Ali

Paul Revere

Paul revere on a horse and holding out a lantern

Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, 1933. (Photo Credit: Edward Mason Eggleston / Wikimedia Commons)

We obviously had to end this with a quote from the American Revolution. The majority of Americans were taught Paul Revere’s Ride, a poem by Henry Wadsworth, which details the night Revere warned about the British invasion.

While the events of that night are frequently debated, what most agree on is Revere rode through towns, yelling, “The British are coming!” If his famed ride is true, he would have actually yelled “The Regulars are coming,” based on terminology from the time.

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