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  • Dracula did not speak with Vampire Vords in the original novel—in fact, the story even makes it clear he has Surprisingly Good English. The accent would come from later adaptations of the story, most notably Bela Lugosi's performance in the 1931 film and subsequent parodies of it. And in the original book, Dracula never once said "I vant to suck your blood!" and he wouldn't have been caught dead undead saying "Bleh, bleh bleh!" The original Dracula was far too proud of a character to speak in such a manner or accent.
    • Reference is also frequently made to sunlight being a lethal weakness to Dracula, which is something that came from later adaptations like Nosferatu. In the novel, sunlight did rob Dracula of some of his powers, but it didn't kill him.
  • The full phrase "Elementary, my dear Watson" was never in a Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes book or story, though the detective did occasionally use the word "elementary" to describe his deductions, and sometimes addressed his partner as "my dear Watson." This one likely came from people tacking on a familiar character's name to make the quote more recognizable, much as in "Luke, I am your father" — or, indeed, "Beam me up, Scotty".
    • During the early twentieth century the popular catchphrase for Holmes was "Quick, Watson, the needle!" referring to the character's drug habit. Nothing like this line was ever uttered in the stories themselves. Its origin is sometimes attributed to the the 1939 Hound of the Baskervilles (whose final line is "Oh, Watson — the needle") or to the 1906 comic operetta The Red Mill; but in fact there is evidence that the quote was already in existence by 1900. Most likely it originated in one of the numerous parodies of William Gillette's wildly successful Sherlock Holmes play from 1899 (which had included a dramatic scene of Holmes shooting up because Gillette wanted the chance to play some existential ennui).
    • The deerstalker hat as part of Holmes' Iconic Outfit is also an example. In one story that happens to be set in the country, Holmes is described as wearing an "ear-flapped travelling cap"; illustrator Sidney Paget drew it as a deerstalker, and then depicted Holmes wearing this hat in a couple of later stories that were also set in the country (the only appropriate setting for such attire). But most of the time he drew Holmes in a top hat or bowler or other appropriate city hat. The use of the deerstalker as the character's only or "signature" hat may have been popularized by William Gillette, who wore one in both his popular play and its 1916 film adaptation; and when Basil Rathbone used the same costuming in his first Holmes film, The Hound of the Baskervilles, the image was effectively cemented in the public mind.
    • Gillette was also responsible for introducing the distinctive curved calabash as the character's trademark pipe; in the stories Holmes was described as smoking several different pipes, not one of which was a calabash. (It's often forgotten, too, that Holmes didn't only smoke pipes in the original stories — he was fond of cigarettes as well.)
  • Machiavelli never said "the ends justify the means", which is a mistranslation. His exact quote is "si guarda al fine", which should be translated to "one must think of the final result" in regards to the ultimate effect a prince's words and actions have on his image.
    • Ironically, Machiavelli would likely disagree with the statement "the ends justify the means". Machiavelli cares very much about the means. If a prince were to choose a means which would anger his populace, then it would invoke hatred from his populace, which Machiavelli considers to be the absolute worst position for a prince to be in.
    • Similarly, the line is "It is far safer to be feared than loved if you cannot be both", not "It is better to be feared than loved", and the message that it was best to be respected. Also, there's that whole "avoid being hated" thing that everyone seems to forget.
  • The first poem in the Mother Goose book of rhymes starts "Find a pin, pick it up", not "Find a penny, pick it up." And not "See a pin/penny" either.
  • None of Enid Blyton's The Famous Five books include the phrase "lashings of ginger beer". That comes from the infamous Made-for-TV Movie parodies by British comedy troupe The Comic Strip, "Five Go Mad In Dorset" and "Five Go Mad on Mescalin". It has its origins in the Five's (or at least their human members') penchant for ginger beer and the fact that their lovingly described meals do frequently sport lashings of an appropriate accompaniment such as gravy or cream.
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:
    • No one says "follow the white rabbit"; the line only appears in The Matrix.
    • Also, aside from the title, the word "Wonderland" is never used anywhere in the book. The title was a last minute change because Carroll's publishers suggested it should sound more whimsical. (The original title was Alice's Adventures Underground.)
    • Nor does the White Rabbit ever say "I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date!" That line comes from the Disney version. In the book he says "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" and "Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it's getting!"
    • Also, there is no "Mad Hatter," only a "Hatter" who is mentioned as being mad. Same goes for the "Mad March Hare".
    • The quote "I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then" is often repeated in Tumblr and other social media as an Alice quote. The original quote is "`but it's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.'", which actually means something quite different.
    • Though not in the books themselves, Lewis Carroll's official answer to the riddle "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" is "Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front!" Many people will write it as "never", which ruins the joke ("nevar" is "raven" spelled backwards).
  • Harry Potter
    • Hagrid's oft-quoted line "you're a wizard, Harry" appears only in the first film — in the book, his line was "Harry — yer a wizard".
    • Also, Voldemort's line "There is no good and evil, only power and those too weak to seek it," is this when applied to the book, where the line was "...that there is no good and evil, there is only power and those too weak to seek it," and spoken by Quirrell, not Voldemort, as part of a much longer monologue with a different tone before Voldemort even puts in an appearance. Voldemort does say the line in the movie, though. And to be fair, when Quirrell says the line in the book version, he's citing it as an example of something which Voldemort taught him, so the line clearly reflects Voldemort's philosophy or at least Quirrell's understanding of it.
    • Ron never says his movie Catch-Phrase ("bloody hell!") in any of the books. However, there are many instances in the books when "Ron swore loudly", so perhaps he was saying "bloody hell" each of those times.
    • No character ever says either of the lines "What the hell is a Hufflepuff?" or "Hufflepuffs are particularly good finders" in the books or films. They originate from the satirical parody series A Very Potter Musical.
    • "Wait 'till my father hears about this!" is often thought of as Draco Malfoy's catchphrase. Not only is it in none of the books, he only says it with that wording once in all eight films, during this scene. There are two more instances of him saying a variation on the phrase, "Wait until my father hears Dumbledore's got this oaf teaching classes!" in the third film and "My father will hear about this!" in the fourth film, but that's it.
    • A more meta example. Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger are often referred to by Rowling (and her fans) as the Golden Trio. Nobody in the books ever call them that, but don't tell the fanfic writers that, where it's a common nickname.
      • A similar label that does appear in canon is "dream team." Snape refers to Harry and Ron as this before separating them. This label never caught on with the fans, though, probably because it didn't implicitly include Hermione, despite Snape also preventing Harry from partnering with her in that scene.
    • When Harry tells Albus Severus about who he's named after, he doesn't say, "You were named after two of the bravest men I ever knew." The line actually is, "Albus Severus, you were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew."
    • Despite being used very regularly in the fourth book by his imposter, the catch phrase "CONSTANT VIGILANCE!" is never once uttered by the real Mad-Eye Moody in any of the books.
    • Aunt Petunia never calls Dudley "Ickle Diddykins" or "Dinky Diddydums". She does call him "Dudleykins" and "Duddydums", however.
  • Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is often quoted as "Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink"; the actual line is "Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink"
  • Hamlet:
    • "The lady doth protest too much, methinks". Often misquoted as either "Methinks the lady doth protest too much" or "Methinks thou doth protest too much." Also most people when quoting the line misuse "protest." At the time "protest" meant "a formal declaration," NOT "a statement against." Gertrude is complaining that the lady is stating her allegiance and love for her lord *too much* not complaining that the lady is being overly contrary.
    • Hamlet's line in the graveyard is generally quoted as 'Alas, Poor Yorick! I knew him well'. What he actually said was 'Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio. And the line doesn't end there. "I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy."
  • Not a quote, but reference is frequently made to Robinson Crusoe finding Friday's footprint in the sand. The footprint he finds could have belonged to any one of several dozen "savages"; it was almost certainly not Friday's.
  • "'Will you walk into my parlor,' said the spider to the fly", not "come into my parlor."
    • The poem at The Other Wiki, in case you didn't even realize it was a (mis-)quotation in the first place.
    • The mistake here was also perpetuated by The Cure, who misquote it in their song "Lullaby" as come in to my parlour, said the spider to the fly, I have something here...
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes did not say "Boston is the hub of the universe." The line from "Autocrat of the Breakfast Table" is "Boston State-House is the hub of the solar system. You couldn't pry that out of a Boston man, if you had the tire of all creation straightened out for a crowbar." One commenter notes "'universe' for 'solar system' can be overlooked, but 'Boston' for 'Boston State-House' is unpardonable."
  • The Devil's Dictionary said the brain was "An apparatus with which we think what we think", not "An apparatus with which we think we think."
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four is about "doublethink", "newspeak", "crimethink", "goodsex", "sexcrime" and "duckspeak", not "double talk", "groupthink" or "doublespeak".
  • In Spanish-speaking countries, it is very common to attribute to Don Quixote the expression "Ladran, Sancho, señal que cabalgamos" ("There's barking, Sancho, it shows that we're riding") — in other words, to succeed, one has to face criticism from envious people. It is sometimes expanded into a full exchange:
    Sancho: Señor, señor, que nos ladran los perros.
    Don Quixote: Señal que cabalgamos, Sancho.
    In English
    Sancho: Sir, sir, the dogs bark at us.
    Don Quixote: A sign that we ride, Sancho.
    • The actual origin of this quote is Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's 1808 poem, Kläffer ("Barker"): Und seines Bellens lauter Schall Beweist nur, daß wir reiten. / "But their strident barking is just a sign that we ride." The misatribution to Don Quixote goes back to the 1850s.
    • Another example is (mis)quoted to Don Quixote: Con la Iglesia hemos topado, Sancho. Could be translated as: We stumbled on the Church, Sancho. With the replacement of the word dado by topado, and completely foreign to the context of that chapter, the phrase has been used to indicate that the Church or some other authority stands in the execution of a project. In Part II, chapter IX, we read:
      Don Quixote took the lead, and having gone a matter of two hundred paces he came upon the mass that produced the shade, and found it was a great tower, and then he perceived that the building in question was no palace, but the main church of the town, and he said, "We found the church, Sancho." [notice the small letter, as he is talking of a building rather than the institution]
    • Don Quixote never said that They Might Be Giants. He was positively sure that the windmills were giants.
    • Nowhere in Don Quixote is the quote "Too much sanity may be madness and maddest of all. To see life as it is, and not as it should be." This comes from the 1965 musical, Man of La Mancha.
  • The title line from John Donne's For Whom the Bell Tolls is often misquoted as "Ask not for whom the bell tolls", though it is actually "And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls".
  • Ask "What is the meaning of life?" on the Internet and it's almost guaranteed that somebody will respond "42." Technically, 42 isn't the meaning of life - rather, it is the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, whatever that may be.
    • Six by nine, of course.
  • "The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft awry," is frequently attributed to Robert Burns, but the actual line in his poem To a Mouse is: "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley"—which means the same thing. John Brunner got this right when he composed a feghoot ending "The best-paid gangs of Meissen men scheme AFTER Clay."
  • The poem "In Flanders Fields" opens "In Flanders fields the poppies blow", not "grow". Even the author (John McCrae) made this error when asked to supply a fair copy several years later.
  • Dante never referred to The Divine Comedy (La Divina Commedia) by that name: he simply called it Commedia ("comedy"). The epithet "divine" was added by Boccaccio.
  • Poet Dylan Thomas's last words are often given as "I've just had eighteen straight whiskeys in a row - I do believe that is some sort of record", but he actually said the far less triumphant "After 39 years, this is all I've done".
  • In Parson Weems's story about the young George Washington, he never says "I cannot tell a lie. It was I who chopped down the cherry tree.", because he doesn't chop it down, he "barks" it, slicing the bark off with a hatchet. He also didn't say "I did it with my little hatchet."
    The following anecdote is a case in point. It is too valuable to be lost, and too true to be doubted; ...he unluckily tried the edge of his hatchet on the body of a beautiful young English cherry-tree, which he barked so terribly, that I don't believe the tree ever got the better of it. The next morning the old gentleman, finding out what had befallen his tree, which, by the by, was a great favorite, came into the house; ... Nobody could tell him anything about it... "George," said his father, " do you know who killed that beautiful little cherry tree yonder in the garden? " This was a tough question; and George staggered under it for a moment; but quickly recovered himself: and looking at his father, with the sweet face of youth brightened with the inexpressible charm of all- conquering truth, he bravely cried out, "I can't tell a lie, Pa; you know I can't tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet." "Run to my arms, you dearest boy," cried his father in transports, "run to my arms; glad am I, George, that you killed my tree; for you have paid me for it a thousand fold. Such an act of heroism in my son is more worth than a thousand trees, though blossomed with silver, and their fruits of purest gold."
  • A number of lines and names associated with Frankenstein are not in the original novel:
    • Frankenstein never said, "It's alive!" when he gave life to his creature. This line first arose in the 1931 film adaptation.
    • Frankenstein is the name of the man, not the creation, which is never named. Even calling it "Frankenstein's Monster" is not strictly correct, since the term "monster" isn't the only term used to describe it. Various terms, including "demon" and "ogre" are used, though "creature," coming from the word "create," seems to be the most generally appropriate.
    • Adam as the creature's name is also not stated in the novel. The creature does refer to himself as the "Adam of [Victor's] labours" but this is not his given name.
    • Victor Frankenstein is never called "Doctor Frankenstein," since he never receives his doctorate. He's only a student when the creature is born.
    • All accounts of lightning-powered animation, or the theft and stitching together of corpse parts to make the creature, are later additions (though the part-collecting is implied). Frankenstein's narrative deliberately omits any mention of how he brought his creation to life, as he didn't want anyone to repeat his mistakes.
      • It is specifically stated that Frankenstein never learned the secret of restoring life to living things that had died, only of bestowing life on non-living matter (actually a plot point, explaining why he never tries to revive the creature's victims). This pretty much rules out any possibility of Frankenstein using any parts from cadavers. He made the creature by sculpting raw materials. Overlooked by all adaptations, most likely because Science Marches On and the discovery of the existence of cells and other microscopic structures makes it less plausible that a clay sculpture could function as a living organism just by being imbued with "the life force."
    • In a misinterpretation of the movie itself, popular portrayals of the story somehow seem fit to have a mob go after Frankenstein's blood with torches and pitchforks because of the monster. Among the details glossed over about the mob scene as presented in the movie, there are three mobs, each focused solely on an organized "search and destroy" operation targeting only the monster, and Frankenstein himself is the leader of one of those mobs, searching for the monster in the mountains.
  • This phenomenon is discussed in More Information Than You Require, which jokingly claims, among other things, that when Franklin D. Roosevelt said "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," he was, in fact, referring to just his cabinet, who were protected by a thick steel wall. "Normal Americans need to be afraid, very afraid indeed. And not just of the Depression, but also flash floods, night-stabbers, and plague."
  • "The spice must flow!", while spoken by the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in the '84 Lynch film and spoken often, was never actually in any of the six Dune books.
    • The popular chant "It is by will alone I set my mind in motion", while it sounds like something from the books and is quoted all the time by sci-fi geeks, is nowhere found in the original book, nor is the premise quite the same. It was written by Lynch for the movie.
      • The programmers' version, which credits caffeine, was composed by Mark Stein at the 1993 Arisia science fiction convention in Boston.
      It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.
      It is by the beans of Java that thoughts acquire speed,
      the hands acquire shakes, the shakes become a warning.
      It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.
  • The Three Musketeers' "One for all, all for one." D'Artagnan only said it once, when he was trying to convince Athos, Porthos, and Aramis that he wasn't committing a selfish act by letting the husband of his lover be taken to jail by the Cardinal's guards.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Gandalf never said "You shall not pass!" in the book, only in the movie. His full line in the book goes:
    'You cannot pass,' he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. 'I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.'
    • Note also that he says the lines in a calm manner, as opposed to dramatically shouting them like he does in the movie, and perhaps similar to Obi-Wan's demeanor when facing Vader for the last time in Star Wars. Gandalf also says "You cannot pass!" again after blocking the Balrog's sword strike, but never "You shall not pass". Also, in the book, he says "Fly, you fools!" during his fall down the abyss. The book does however say that he "cried aloud" when he smote the bridge, which is when the movie version of him yells it.
    • Gandalf's defiance of the Lord of the Nazgul at the gates of Minas Tirith is similar:
    'You cannot enter here,' said Gandalf, and the huge shadow halted. 'Go back to the abyss prepared for you! Go back! Fall into the nothingness that awaits you and your Master. Go!'
    • The oft-quoted line "Not all who wander are lost" is a slight rephrase from the marginally less quotable "Not all those who wander are lost". While the more well-known phrasing might be a bit more pithy and poetic on its own, the poem that it's from ("The Riddle of Strider" from The Fellowship of the Ring) is written in a verse form with eight syllables in each line, necessitating the extra word.
    • Boromir never says "One does not simply walk into Mordor". The closest thing to this is said by none other than Gollum.
    • In The Hobbit Smaug never says "I am king under the mountain!" He did say it, however, in the second film.
    • There are even a few in-universe examples: Gandalf never said "Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends," as Frodo remembered it. What Gandalf had actually said was "Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."
  • The often misquoted line from The Aeneid, "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts," is actually a mistranslation of the original phrase, "Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes." The correct translation is, "I fear the Greeks, even if they bear gifts." note 
  • In The Hunting of the Snark, if your snark turns out to be a boojum, "You will softly and suddenly vanish away, / And never be met with again." Not "softly and silently", as generally misquoted.
    • "Silently vanish away" is from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "The Day Is Done".
  • In The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, Ogilvy never said "The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one." Instead he said "The chances against anything manlike coming from Mars are a million to one." The first quote is from the musical by Jeff Wayne. Ironically, in the book it can be argued, judging from the appearance of the Martians themselves, that Ogilvy was actually right when he said that.
  • The expression "survival of the fittest" generally is attributed to Charles Darwin, but it was actually coined by Herbert Spencer. Note that the phrase almost always is used incorrectly: "the fittest" does not mean "the strongest individual". A much more accurate paraphrase is "the individual or trait that fits the best within a particular environment". (This use of "fittest" is no longer common in modern English.)
    • This is why "fit or fat" is a misnomer.
    • Speaking of Darwin, the following passage is often misattributed to him, either to tar him as a racist or to lend support to racism. But it actually comes from Thomas Dixon's 1905 novel The Clansman (best known for inspiring the film The Birth of a Nation).
      "Since the dawn of history the negro has owned the continent of Africa—rich beyond the dream of poet's fancy, crunching acres of diamonds beneath his bare black feet. Yet he never picked one up from the dust until a white man showed to him its glittering light. His land swarmed with powerful and docile animals, yet he never dreamed a harness, cart, or sled. A hunter by necessity, he never made an axe, spear, or arrowhead worth preserving beyond the moment of its use. He lived as an ox, content to graze for an hour. In a land of stone and timber he never sawed a foot of lumber, carved a block, or built a house save of broken sticks and mud. With league on league of ocean strand and miles of inland seas, for four thousand years he watched their surface ripple under the wind, heard the thunder of the surf on his beach, the howl of the storm over his head, gazed on the dim blue horizon calling him to worlds that lie beyond, and yet he never dreamed a sail! He lived as his fathers lived—stole his food, worked his wife, sold his children, ate his brother, content to drink, sing, dance, and sport as the ape!"
    • The word "evolution" does not appear in On the Origin of Species, and the word "evolve" only appears once at the very end ("[E]ndless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."). Darwin avoided the word because, at the time, the word "evolution" referred to Jean-Baptiste Lamarck's ideas. Darwin preferred the phrase "descent with modification".
  • A Christmas Carol's Ebenezer Scrooge is often observed as having said "Bah-humbug!", but most works miss the emphasis. The phrase is given like it's all one word, whereas "Bah" is actually an interjection of disgust, e.g. "Bah! Humbug!" And in film and stage adaptations, he tends to say it many more times than in the novel. He tends to say "Humbug!" by itself in the book, too. He only says "Bah! Humbug!" twice.
  • The famous British magazine Punch contained many satirical cartoons with captions, all of which are understood in the popular imagination to end with a dry, brief line like "Collapse of Stout Party" when in fact of none of them did. Ronald Pearsall notes this in the introduction to his book Collapse of Stout Party: Victorian wit and humour:
    To many people Victorian wit and humour is summed up by Punch, when every joke is supposed to end with "Collapse of Stout Party", though this phrase tends to be as elusive as "Elementary, my dear Watson" in the Sherlock Holmes sagas.
  • In Lewis Carroll's poem Jabberwocky, the nonsense word "borogoves" is often mispronounced "borogroves."
  • The line is "Second to the right and straight on till morning." The Disney version changed it to "Second star to the right...", probably in an effort to make more sense...even though it wasn't supposed to make sense, since Peter had made it up on the spot in an effort to impress Wendy. The whole "think happy thoughts and you'll be able to fly" thing was a similar made-up bit of information by Peter—he wanted to confuse Wendy and her brothers by trying to make them fly before they had any fairy dust, the thing you really need to fly. (And it's fairy dust, not pixie dust). But try telling that to any adaptation… Fairy dust wasn't even in the original play. Barrie put it in because someone warned him kids might hurt themselves trying to see if you could really fly on happy thoughts.
  • William Cowper's Light Shining Out Of Darkness: "God moves in a mysterious way", not "God moves in mysterious ways"
  • Tennyson's The Charge of the Light Brigade includes the following lines: "Theirs is not to make reply, / Theirs is not to reason why, / Theirs is but to do & die [...]" At varying points you will see "Ours" exchanged for "Theirs," which is reasonably justifiable, but to use the line "Theirs (or Ours) is but to do OR die" should merit flogging, at the least. And it's not "theirs not to question why".
  • José Rizal's poem popularly known as Mi Ultimo Adiós was originally untitled. The title was added posthumously, and the phrase itself nowhere appears in the text.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche is variously quoted as writing something like "when you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back", or myriad variations. The original phrase used by Nietzsche in Beyond Good and Evil is: "And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you."
  • Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men never asked, "Which way did he go, George?". That line comes from parodies of the character in Looney Tunes and other animated shorts.
  • T. S. Eliot's poem the Hollow Men states "This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper." instead of"with a whisper"
  • Many twee quotes commonly attributed to A. A. Milne come not from his Winnie-the-Pooh books but from Disney greeting cards and Direct-to-Video movies. For instance, "You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think" comes from the 1997 video Pooh's Grand Adventure, with which Milne (d. 1956) obviously had little to do. Nor did Milne's Pooh ever say "Today is my favorite day," or "If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus one day, so I never have to live a day without you."
  • The title character of Oliver Twist said "Please, sir, I want some more", not "Please, sir, may I have some more?"
  • Les Misérables: Enjolras is referred to as "Apollo" exactly once, by an unnamed witness to the uprising. Never to his face and never by Grantaire, as fanfics would have you believe. Grantaire does compare someone to Apollo - when he's talking about Marius.
  • The Fault in Our Stars: Augustus never claims to feel kinship with Anne Frank because she died "of an illness" like his own. He and Hazel both clearly feel kinship with her because she died young, but the alleged murder-denying quote never occurs.
  • A line from Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Masque of the Red Death" is often quoted as "And the Red Death held sway over all". However, the word "sway" appears nowhere in the actual story, and the final line is "And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all." The misunderstanding may come from the fact that the inaccurate quotation is featured heavily in Stephen King's novel The Shining.
  • The German philosopher Theodor W. Adorno is often said to have said "it is impossible to write poetry after Auschwitz", and many a freshman discussion has wrecked itself on those very words. But what he actually wrote, in the 1949 article "Cultural Criticism and Society", was "To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric." Oddly enough, he later seems to have decided that he had said that it was impossible to write poetry after Auschwitz, because in his 1966 book Negative Dialectics he actually retracted that particular opinion: "Perennial suffering has as much right to expression as a tortured man has to scream; hence it may have been wrong to say that after Auschwitz you could no longer write poems." Maybe it was just impossible for Adorno to be a barbarian.
  • Karl Marx never said "Workers of the world, unite!", with or without following it with "You have nothing to lose but your chains". This is a paraphrase of the last three sentences of the Communist Manifesto, which are "The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working Men of All Countries, Unite! ". However, the original German version is exactly the way as the last sentence appears in the 1848 original version "Proletarier aller Länder vereinigt Euch!" and the difference of translation is minor, though the difference of sentence order is present in the original as well.
  • Contrary to a thousand inspirational Tumblr posts, C.S. Lewis never wrote "You don't have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body." Nor is it a viewpoint he would have endorsed: in The Screwtape Letters, he actually writes that human beings are "amphibians—half spirit and half animal." The most likely source of the misattributed quote is Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s novel A Canticle for Leibowitz, in which a character says "You don't have a soul, Doctor. You are a soul. You have a body, temporarily."
  • People tend to quote one line of the book Green Eggs and Ham as "Would you eat them in a house? Would you eat them with a mouse?". In the actual book, this quote is "Would you like them in a house? Would you like them with a mouse?".
  • Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" is often given the title "The Road Less Traveled" instead, stemming from the line "I took the one less traveled by".
  • A frequently-cited example used by advocates of the Oxford comma to show why it's necessary is an unnamed author dedicating a book to "my parents, Ayn Rand and God." Whether this came from an actual book or was just a humorous hypothetical example wasn't clear. Even The Other Wiki calls it "apocryphal". But eventually someone found the source: an obscure 1964 scientific tome by Robert Mills Bevensee called Electromagnetic Slow Wave Systems. But besides being worded slightly differently, Bevensee's dedication actually did use an Oxford comma.
    This Book Is Dedicated to my parents, Ayn Rand, and the glory of GOD.