Researching quotations is fascinating and challenging. The mission of this website is to provide information that is current, thorough, novel, intriguing, and very carefully documented. Detailed supporting citations appear at the end of every article. Top news and entertainment organizations have recognized these qualities. Here are some examples referencing QI research:
Australian Associated Press (AAP) FactCheck: On January 12, 2021 a team of journalists in Australia published a piece examining an inspirational quotation attributed to writer C. S. Lewis in popular Facebook posts: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending”. The AAP FactCheck article linked to an article on the Quote Investigator website which explored a similar quotation and traced it to back to James R. Sherman’s book “Rejection”.
Website of Radio Station WHAV of Haverhill, Massachusetts: On December 23, 2020 Dr. Raymond F. Comeau published a piece titled “The Mystery of a Whittier Christmas Quote” which examined the provenance of four poetic lines attributed to John Greenleaf Whittier. The article linked to a Quote Investigator article which traced the lines to Margaret E. Sangster.
Le Monde of Paris, France: On December 2, 2020 an article in the leading French newspaper Le Monde examined a statement attributed to the prominent philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer about the multi-stage acceptance of truths. The newspaper linked to an exploration of the topic on the Quote Investigator website. Schopenhauer did pen thematically germane remarks on the topic, but they differed markedly from modern formulations.
RealClearPolitics: On November 27 2020 Carl M. Cannon, the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics, examined a quotation ascribed to Helen Keller: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart.” Cannon referred to the research of Garson O’Toole available on the Quote Investigator website.
Y Combinator Startup Accelerator: On July 18 2020 a Quote Investigator article appeared on the front page of the news aggregator website Hacker News. The QI article was titled “The Floggings Will Continue Until Morale Improves”.
Washington Post: On July 15, 2020 a columnist in the Washington D.C. newspaper referred to a remark attributed to Napoleon: “When your enemy is executing a false movement, never interrupt him.”. The analysis of the quotation on the QI website was mentioned.
Washington Post: On April 20, 2020 a columnist in the Washington D.C. newspaper discussed protestors and referred to the adage “My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins”. The article linked to the QI article on the subject.
Trivia Genius: In March 2020 this website about trivia published “10 Quotes Famous People Never Actually Said”. The article linked to the Quote Investigator analysis of serval quotations including “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” and “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
Slate: Senior technology writer Will Oremus wrote about research that analyzed rumors propagated on twitter. His piece titled “Lies Travel Faster Than Truth on Twitter—and Now We Know Who to Blame” linked to a popular QI entry titled “A Lie Can Travel Halfway Around the World While the Truth Is Putting On Its Shoes”.
Guardian: Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar winning film “The Shape of Water” has faced accusations of plagiarism. Film critic Ryan Gilbey says that claims of this type are common in Hollywood and observes that “claims multiply during awards season”. The article links to a QI article about a quotation attributed to Dorothy Parker: “The Only “Ism” in which Hollywood Believes Is Plagiarism”.
New York Daily News: A research article in the journal “Science” about the propagation of inaccurate information via twitter caused many people to search for a saying that is often misattributed to Mark Twain. The search led people to QI’s article titled “A Lie Can Travel Halfway Around the World While the Truth Is Putting On Its Shoes” which contained a precursor expression written by Jonathan Swift. A “Daily News” journalist composed an opinion piece on this topic titled: “Tweets untrue at any speed: What Jonathan Swift had to say about the age in which we live”.
The Chronicle of Higher Education: English Professor Ben Yagoda wrote about the slang term “smacked ass” which he first heard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Yagoda noted that QI “found the earliest use I’ve seen, by the Inquirer columnist Tom Fox in 1971”.
The Ringer: Ben Lindbergh praised tough-to-obtain 1998 video game “Panzer Dragoon Saga”. While discussing the influence of the game Lindbergh linked to a QI analysis of a quotation about the rock group “Velvet Underground”.
Center for Mark Twain Studies: Twain expert Matt Seybold who is an Assistant Professor of American Literature wrote a piece about an apocryphal quotation and linked to the QI article “Never Let Schooling Interfere with Your Education”.
BBC: Reporter Rebecca Seales spoke to QI and wrote an enjoyable and informative article titled “Let’s save Maya Angelou from fake quotes”. Seales discussed several quotations examined by QI including: “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel” and “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song”.
Wall Street Journal: Wonderful review of “Hemingway Didn’t Say That” appeared in “The Wall Street Journal” on April 10. The reviewer was top quotation expert Fred R. Shapiro editor of “The Yale Book of Quotations”.
National Public Radio: All Things Considered: Excellent interview piece titled “Hemingway Didn’t Say That’ (And Neither Did Twain Or Kafka)” broadcast April 4, 2017. Great thanks to interviewer Robert Siegel and producer Connor Donevan.
New York Times: Great article about “Hemingway Didn’t Say That” and the Quote Investigator website appeared in “The New York Times” on April 27 titled “That Wasn’t Mark Twain: How a Misquotation Is Born” by Niraj Chokshi. A fun quiz based on the book was published the next day.
Time: An article discussing “Muhammad Ali’s Wit and Wisdom: 6 of His Best Quotes” included a link to the QI entry about an adage spoken by Ali in 1974 and 1975: “The Man Who Views the World at 50 the Same as He Did at 20 Has Wasted 30 Years of His Life”:
New York Times: Columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote a piece titled “The Liberal Blind Spot”, and he linked to a QI entry about a famous saying that has been misattributed to Voltaire: “I Disapprove of What You Say, But I Will Defend to the Death Your Right to Say It“.
The Chronicle of Higher Education: English and Journalism Professor Ben Yagoda wrote a piece about the comedy duo Bob and Ray (Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding), and he linked to the QI entry about the saying: “Dying is Easy. Comedy is Hard”. Another “Chronicle” article titled “Inside the Graduate-Admissions Process” referred to a QI entry about the saying “Laws are Like Sausages. Better Not to See Them Being Made”.
Financial Times: Columnist John Kay penned a piece titled “Famous quotes may be apocryphal yet illuminating”. He kindly remarked that “the wonderful Quote Investigator website seeks the original version of many widely used aphorisms”, and he linked to the QI website. Kay also placed the article and link on his personal website.
Washington Post: An article printed a remark from the CNN journalist Anderson Cooper: “my mom has a saying from a guy named MacLaren who said, ‘Be kind because everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.’ Additional information about this saying was provided by a link to the QI webpage on the topic.
Bloomberg View: An article titled “Money Stuff: Bonuses, Discounts and Taxes”
linked to a QI entry about a saying that has often been attributed to Mark Twain:
“History Does Not Repeat Itself, But It Rhymes”.
Guardian: An article titled “How to write the shortest joke in the world” linked to the QI analysis of the famous six-word story that has commonly and incorrectly been attributed to Ernest Hemingway: “For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn”.
NFL: An article on the NFL.com website titled “Titans, Cowboys, Rams returning to power football” by Chris Wesselingon linked to a QI entry about a well-known saying that highlights the dangers of passing a football: “Three Things Can Happen When You Pass and Two of Them Are Bad”.
Slate: The QI website was linked thrice in a month by Slate. An article about “The Largest Known Prime Number” linked to a QI entry on the dialog: “Did You Lose the Keys Here?” “No, But the Light Is Much Better Here”. An article about the sports cliché “He’s Saying All the Right Things” linked to the Samuel Goldwyn category on the website. An article about David Bowie linked to an entry about repartee between Oscar Wilde and James McNeill Whistler: “I Wish I Had Said That” “You Will, Oscar, You Will”.
The Atlantic: An essay titled “The Wrong Side of ‘the Right Side of History'” mentioned an expression used by President Obama and linked to the QI discussion of the saying: “The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long But It Bends Toward Justice”.
Guardian: An article titled “Do we really become more conservative with age?” referenced a saying that has been linked to a variety of prominent individuals, e.g., Winston Churchill, Benjamin Disraeli, and Victor Hugo: “If You Are Not a Liberal at 25, You Have No Heart. If You Are Not a Conservative at 35 You Have No Brain”.
SB Nation: An article titled “Everyone can learn something from Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter” linked to the QI analysis of the saying about sculpture: “You Just Chip Away Everything That Doesn’t Look Like David”.
New York Times: “Mutual Funds: Loose Lips Sink Careers, Even for C.E.O.s” by John Schwartz mentioned a saying that is often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain. The article linked to the QI entry on the topic: “Better to Remain Silent and Be Thought a Fool than to Speak and Remove All Doubt”.
PCGamer: An article titled “Dangerous Golf is Burnout on the back nine with Garry Shandling at the wheel” noted that a popular saying has been incorrectly ascribed to Mark Twain: “Golf is a Good Walk Spoiled”.
Quartz: An article about interest rates and consumer borrowing referenced a saying ascribed to William McChesney Martin, a former chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System: “I Take the Punch Bowl Away Just When the Party is Getting Good”.
USA Today: An opinion piece about conflicts and protests on college campuses referenced a saying that has often been attributed to the economist Maynard Keynes: “When the Facts Change, I Change My Mind. What Do You Do, Sir?”
BBC Radio 4: In September 2015 presenter Mariella Frostrup of the radio show Open Book interviewed guest Erica Wagner, and they discussed a famous six word story commonly attributed to Ernest Hemingway. Wagner pointed to the analysis on the Quote Investigator website showing that Hemingway probably did not compose the tale: “For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn”.
Huffington Post: Writer Lev Raphael asked a pointed question “Does Goodreads Care about Its Bogus Quotations?” He kindly referred to the “great web site, Quote Investigator”. He also pointed to a QI entry about a popular quotation that has often been attributed to George Eliot: “It’s Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been”.
Guardian: The late Sarah Kershaw with the assistance of Paul Norton wrote an article entitled “Affluenza: a plague on both their houses, their cars and their yacht”. Norton contacted QI to obtain the details of a 1908 citation for the word “affluenza”, and the article kindly acknowledged QI.
New York Times: Lexicographer and entrepreneur Erin McKean wrote an opinion piece that discussed misattributed quotations. McKean had direct experience with this topic because a statement she had written had been incorrectly reassigned to the prominent fashion editor Diana Vreeland. The article linked to the entry: You Don’t Owe Prettiness to Anyone.
Cracked: The humor website published a listicle titled “5 Ways Creative Peoples’ Brains Mess With Their Head”. The author linked to a QI webpage that traced an entertaining tale about Oscar Wilde’s writing habits: “I Spent All Morning Taking Out a Comma and All Afternoon Putting It Back”. Cracked also published an article titled “5 Great Products You Won’t Believe Failed Miserably” that linked to a QI entry about the saying: “If You Build a Better Mousetrap the World Will Beat a Path to Your Door”.
USA TODAY: An opinion piece discussing the topic of vaccinations linked to an entry for the saying: Your Liberty To Swing Your Fist Ends Just Where My Nose Begins.
BBC: “Ukraine crisis: Stalin’s joke sums up Obama’s dilemma” (Article includes link to entry titled “The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long But It Bends Toward Justice” which discusses a saying employed by Martin Luther King, Barack Obama, and Theodore Parker.)
Thompson on Hollywood: Top entertainment reporter Anne Thompson asked: Who Coined the Phrase “Dying is Easy, Comedy is Hard”? She linked to QI’s analysis of this topic which she called a fascinating story.
Mental Floss: An intriguing article titled “15 Great Quotes You Wish They’d Said (But They Didn’t!)” by Therese Oneill discussed several quotations examined on the QI website and included links. QI was inspired by the first topic and created an entry for the saying: The Eternal Stars Shine Out Again, So Soon As It Is Dark Enough.
Zen Pencils: (website of cartoonist Gavin Aung Than) A cartoon illustrating a quotation by Robert Fulghum was followed by a discussion of the provenance of the expression. The popular saying has often been misattributed to children’s author Dr. Seuss. The discussion included a link to: We Fall Into Mutually Satisfying Weirdness and Call It Love. Cartoonist Gavin Aung Than also created an illustration for a popular quotation that has often been misattributed to Albert Einstein. The update section included a link to the entry: Everybody is a Genius But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid.
Business Insider: An article titled “Elon Musk Loves This Winston Churchill Quote About ‘Going Through Hell'” by Drake Baer included a link to the entry: If You’re Going Through Hell, Keep Going.
Lifehacker: An article titled “Find Work You Love by Identifying Your Unique Angle”
by Belle Beth Cooper included a link to the entry: Don’t Like to Write, But Like Having Written.
BuzzFeed: The article “No Seriously, What Does Wi-Fi Stand For?” by Jessica Misener pointed out that “Wi-Fi is a nonsense word, not an acronym”. Hence, Wi-Fi stands for nothing. The author in a jocular mood linked to the entry: If You Don’t Stand for Something, You’ll Fall for Anything.
Time: An article titled “9 Decent Pieces of Advice From the Worst People on TV” by Denver Nicks mentioned a classic recommendation given to aspiring actors and linked to the entry: The Main Thing Is Honesty. If You Can Fake That, You’ve Got It Made.
Boston Globe: An article titled “When reporters value ‘justice’ over accuracy, journalism loses” by Jeff Jacoby linked to an entry titled: Facts Are Stubborn Things.
Washington Post: A column titled “PostPartisan: Black lives matter to everyone — finally” by Jonathan Capehart included a link to the entry: There Must Be a Pony Somewhere.
El País: The Spanish newspaper website posted an article about recognizing inaccurate quotations on the internet titled “Cómo reconocer una cita falsa en internet” by María Eugenia Redondo. The article linked to main page of the Quote Investigator website and to the entry: You Cannot Fool All the People All the Time.
Guardian: An article titled “Free will: are we just slaves to our bodies?” by Oliver Burkeman examined the philosophical puzzle of free will. The article linked to the entry: The Male Libido is Like Being Chained to a Madman.
Christian Science Monitor: An article titled “Reliable quotes in the age of the Internet?” by Ruth Walker examined the question “What should careful writers do to check the pithy sayings, quips, and the like that they want to incorporate in their prose?” Walker used a quotation attributed to Thomas Edison to illustrate the difficulties of finding accurate information about provenance. The article linked to the entry: Opportunity Is Missed Because It Is Dressed in Overalls and Looks Like Work.
New York Magazine: A website article titled “Ayn Rand, Girl-Power Icon” by Maureen O’Connor discussed a quotation attributed to Ayn Rand that had been emblazoned on a fashion garment. The article linked to the entry: The Question Isn’t Who Is Going to Let Me, It’s Who Is Going to Stop Me.
The New Yorker: An article titled “Frederick Wiseman’s ‘National Gallery'” by Richard Brody discussed a recent film by the prominent documentarian. The article linked to the entry: Writing About Music is Like Dancing About Architecture.
Bloomberg View: An article titled “Apple’s Next Hit Will Be a Microsoft Clone” by Leonid Bershidsky contemplated Apple’s future strategy and mentioned a famous saying employed by Steve Jobs who ascribed the words to Pablo Picasso. The article linked QI’s analysis: Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal.
Forbes: An article titled “7 Famous Quotes You Definitely Didn’t Know Were From Women” by Maseena Ziegler discussed a set of quotations that have been incorrectly reattributed from men to women. Some of the examples were based on QI research, and the author kindly acknowledged and linked to the QI website.
Chicago Tribune: “Don’t quote me on that — unless I said it” by columnist Mary Schmich; published July 9, 2014. (Article discusses the prevalence of misattributions. Mentions the QI website and includes a remark by QI. Mary Schmich has direct experience with this topic because her words have been incorrectly attributed to Kurt Vonnegut and Eleanor Roosevelt.)
NewScientist: An article titled “Feedback: Einstein said: I didn’t say that” discussed a quotation that has been misattributed to Albert Einstein, and linked to the QI entry on the topic: If the Bee Disappeared Off the Face of the Earth, Man Would Only Have Four Years Left To Live.
The Colbert Report: This Comedy Central television show on September 4, 2014 discussed a quotation that has been incorrectly attributed to John Quincy Adams. QI has traced the saying to musician and entrepreneur Dolly Parton. If Your Actions Inspire Others To Dream More, Learn More, Do More and Become More, You Are a Leader. During the discussion an image of the QI website was briefly shown.
National Review: An article titled “Arms and Fists, Cheeks and Noses” by Jay Nordlinger discussed the history of a famous aphorism about liberty. The article linked to the entry: Your Liberty To Swing Your Fist Ends Just Where My Nose Begins.
Slate: “Did Hemingway Really Write His Famous Six-Word Story?” by David Haglund. (Summary of QI research on “For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn”)
Newsweek: “Thomas Piketty Says He Was Ambushed” by Leah McGrath Goodman (Article includes link to entry titled “Figures Don’t Lie, But Liars Figure”. Congratulations to the knowledgeable author who mentions Charles H. Grosvenor and gives an exact quotation.)
Poynter: “Why do journalists remember nasty editors fondly?” by Andrew Beaujon.
(Article links to an entry titled “There Must Be a Pony Somewhere” which discusses an anecdote about a conjectural pony and manure.)
Guardian: “The corrections column co-editor on… resolving conflicts between statistics” by Rory Foster. (Article includes link to entry titled “People Use Statistics as a Drunk Uses a Lamppost — For Support Rather Than Illumination”. The Guardian editor notes that this entertaining saying is attributed to Andrew Lang, but the evidence is weak. QI entry shows the evolution of the saying.)
National Geographic: “The Tragic Story of How Einstein’s Brain Was Stolen and Wasn’t Even Special” by Virginia Hughes. (Article points to QI research on “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”)
TLS – The Times Literary Supplement: “Just glad to see me?” by Fred R. Shapiro. (Includes a positive assessment of the QI website by one of the top quotation experts Fred R. Shapiro who is the editor of “The Yale Book of Quotations”.)
Wired magazine: “Baby shoes for sale? You’ve been misquoting Hemingway all this time” by Victoria Turk. (Mentions five quotations examined by QI)
The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Who Really Said That?” by Corey Robin (Article discusses the realm of the WAS (Wrongly Attributed Statement) and praises the QI website.)
Boston Globe: “What is YOLO? Only teenagers know for sure” by Ben Zimmer. (Top lexicographer Ben Zimmer who now writes a wonderful column at the Wall Street Journal discussed QI’s research on “YOLO: You Only Live Once” when he was a columnist at the Boston Globe)
BBC: “What makes a classic quip?” (Article includes link to entry titled “This Is Not a Novel To Be Tossed Aside Lightly. It Should Be Thrown with Great Force” about a quote attributed to Dorothy Parker.)
Twitter: Jack Dorsey @jack, one of the founders of Twitter, tweeted the following message on June 28, 2013 with a link to a QI entry about the controversial quotation famously employed by Steve Jobs: “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.”—NOT Pablo Picasso
BuzzFeed: “13 Pinterest-Famous Celebrity Quotes That Are Totally Fake” by Gabby Noone. (Article includes links to quotations by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and Roger Miller)
How do I contact Garson O’Toole? To send an email message to “garson o toole”. Delete the spaces in the moniker given and use the gmail domain.