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Misquotation is incorrect attribution of the author of a quotation or inaccurate reproduction of the quotation itself. For example, in a speech George H. W. Bush said "As Abraham Lincoln said, "Here I stand — 'warts and all'." This was not said by Abraham Lincoln but is a composite of separate quotations by Martin Luther and Oliver Cromwell.[1]

Many quotations are routinely incorrect or attributed to the wrong authors, and quotations from obscure or unknown writers are often attributed to far more famous writers. Examples of this are Winston Churchill, to whom many political quotations of uncertain origin are attributed, and Oscar Wilde, to whom anonymous humorous quotes are sometimes attributed.[2][3]

Deliberate misquotation is also common, though this often goes unnoticed, usually because the misquotation is better known or because the misquotation better fits a situation. For example, the Star Trek catchphrase "Beam me up, Scotty" did not appear in that form in the original series—likewise, the famous Dirty Harry quotation "Do you feel lucky, punk?" is actually a rewording of the original dialogue: "You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya punk?"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Paul F. Boller, John George (1990), They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions, Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780195064698 
  2. ^ See A Book of Misquotations, edited by Elizabeth Knowles, Oxford University Press, 2006.
  3. ^ Ralph Keyes (1992), "Nice guys finish seventh": false phrases, spurious sayings, and familiar misquotations, Harper Collins, ISBN 9780062700209 

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