Listicle

Fake Celebrity Quotes That Fooled the Internet

As inspirational as some of these quotes may be, they prove just how important it is to double-check your sources.

WESTWOOD, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 20: Morgan Freeman attends the LA Premiere of Lionsgate's "Angel Has Fallen" at Regency Village Theatre on August 20, 2019 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic) (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
Image Via Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

While the internet makes it easier than ever to find information, you can't trust everything you read — especially when it comes to famous quotes.

Social media users may love to share these nuggets of wisdom far and wide, but that doesn't mean they're accurate. Some of these famous quotes were actually spoken and merely attributed to the wrong person, but others seem to have been pulled out of thin air with very little evidence about their actual origins.

Today, we're taking a look at some of the most famous fake quotes that have fooled internet users over the years. As inspirational as some of these fake quotes may be, they prove just how important it is to double-check your sources!

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1
“No amount of evidence will ever persuade an idiot” — Mark Twain

Rating: Misattributed 

Despite an image with the quote and Mark Twain's face going viral on Facebook in 2023, there is no evidence that Twain actually ever said this. However, this isn’t the first time this fake quote has gotten popular — it has been wrongly attributed to Twain since at least 2012. According to a statement from the Mark Twain House & Museum, there is “no trace” of evidence that the famous author ever uttered these words. 
 


2
The "first sign of civilization" is a healed femur. — Margaret Mead

Rating: Unproven 

According to multiple books and internet sources, anthropologist Margaret Mead considered a femur that had been broken and healed as the first sign of civilization because it indicated that someone took time to care for the injured. Mead allegedly gave this famous quote in response to a student’s question, but there's no evidence that this exchange actually took place.


3
“It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” — Mark Twain

Rating: Unproven 

Despite no evidence, this is yet another quote that has been spuriously attributed to Mark Twain in the internet era. While he never gave this exact quote, he did speak about the power of lies in his autobiography. So, it’s possible that someone attempted to paraphrase his words with this quote, ultimately misattributing the verbatim expression to him. 
 


4
“Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” — John Lennon

Rating: Misattributed 

Despite all the memes and merchandise that try to convince us John Lennon coined this phrase, there’s no evidence that’s actually the case. While he did use these words in his song “Beautiful Boy,” he is not the originator of the quote. In reality, the first instance of this phrase appears in a 1957 issue of Reader’s Digest written by journalist Allen Saunders. 


5
“I don’t want a nation of thinkers, I want a nation of workers.” — John D. Rockefeller

Rating: Unproven 

While this quote makes great fodder for social media arguments about how “elites” view the average person, there is no evidence that John D. Rockefeller ever said such a thing. While it’s possible he could have held this belief, it’s unlikely, considering he formed a public education charity (The General Education Board) in 1903.  
 


6
“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.” — Maya Angelou

Rating: Misattributed 

While this might plausibly sound like something Maya Angelou said, there is no evidence linking the author to this quote, despite the fact it’s widely attributed to her online. The earliest known instance of this saying appears in a 2002 book and is attributed to Nina Potts-Jefferies. How Angelou became associated with the quote is unknown. 
 


7
“I can’t wait until morals, respect, and intelligence become a trend again.” — Denzel Washington

Rating: Misattributed 

Denzel Washington might be seen by some as a “tell it like it is” sort of guy, but there is no evidence he said this quote. It was first misattributed to the actor on X (formerly Twitter) in 2018, and it has also been associated with other celebrities, such as John Wayne and Robert DeNiro. The original source of the quote is unknown. 
 


8
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” — Robin Williams

Rating: Misattributed 

While Robin Williams might have lived a life that embodied the spirit of this quote, there is no evidence to support the idea he said these exact words. The quote was first wrongly attributed to Williams online shortly after his death in 2014. Variations of it supposedly spoken or written by others can be found as far back as 2009. 
 


9
“World War IV would be fought with sticks and stones.” — Albert Einstein

Rating: Unproven 

Despite being integral to the development of nuclear weapons, Albert Einstein frequently warned against the potential dangers of them. While this quote is in line with that attitude, there is no evidence Einstein said these exact words. Additionally, even if he did say them, Einstein was not the original source of the sentiment, as others are on record saying similar things.
 


10
“Don't take criticism from people you would never go to for advice.” — Morgan Freeman

Rating: Misattributed 

While some people might consider these words to live by, there’s no evidence that Morgan Freeman ever said them. Online, it appears people started incorrectly attributing the quote to Freeman in 2019. However, the quote surfaced before that — like in a 2017 episode of "The Minimalists Podcast," during which a caller attributed the quote to a friend who supposedly heard it from his grandpa.


11
“Tolerance will reach such a level that intelligent people will be banned from thinking so as not to offend the imbeciles.” — Fyodor Dostoevsky

Rating: Misattributed 

While this quote misattributed to Fyodor Dostoevsky got popular online in 2022, there’s no evidence he actually said it. There actually isn’t much evidence pointing to the definitive origins of the quote at all. Considering the fact it seems tailor-made for the online era, it’s likely much younger than the 19th Century Russian author. 


12
“Your age doesn't define your maturity, your grades don't define your intelligence, and rumors don't define who you are.” — Morgan Freeman

Rating: Misattributed 

Morgan Freeman seems to be a frequent target for misattributed quotes, and this one is no exception. While Freeman might agree with the sentiment, there’s no evidence he ever publicly said this. The first known appearance of this quote comes from a 2012 book titled, "Funny Status Updates for Facebook," but no specific author for the quote is listed.
 


13
“It is better to be alone than in bad company.” — George Washington

Rating: Misattributed 

While George Washington was indeed aware of this quote, the former president was not the original author of the phrase. Instead, it comes from a list of civility rules that was popular when Washington was a child. When he was young, Washington made a handwritten copy of the rules (including the quote in question) that can be viewed in the Library of Congress. 
 


14
“Always forgive your enemies. Nothing annoys them so much.” — Oscar Wilde

Rating: Misattributed 

Oscar Wilde may have been a master of witty, biting remarks, but this quote is wrongly attributed to him. Despite being frequently linked to Wilde online, the earliest appearance of this quote is from author Percy Colson in a 1949 newspaper. Colson later authored a book about Wilde, and that was possibly where the mix-up began. 
 


15
“The two enemies of the people are criminals and government.” — Thomas Jefferson

Rating: False 

This quote has been attributed to Thomas Jefferson since at least the early 2000s. But, in reality, the sentiment appears to come from a 1964 essay by author Ayn Rand in which she states, “There are two potential violators of man's rights: the criminals and the government.” How, or why, the quote became associated with Jefferson is unknown.