Researching the Origin of a Quote

Researching the Origin of a Quote

We have all seen the memes that our friends post on social media sites like Instagram or Facebook, it is a beautiful quote attributed to someone famous meant to provide inspiration.  The only problem with them is that they are more often than not attributed to the wrong person or the quote is wrong altogether.  We live in the information age yet we still get famous quotes wrong all the time and researching their origins is harder than it should be.  So how do you find out who really said that quote that you love so much?  Let’s look at how you can research famous quotes.


Some quotes don’t have any attribution at all so it can be nearly impossible to find an author or original source for them.  Then there is the other end of that situation where a quote has been attributed to everyone and their dog so it is almost impossible to determine who said it first.  The reality is that a many famous quotes are misquoted by a famous politician, public speaker or the media and then it is even harder to identify the source.  This happens with Shakespeare all the time as Elizabethan English is changed into more modern English.  Here are some famous misquotes we all get wrong.

Where to Begin

The first thing you need to do when it comes to researching a quote is to try and remember as much of it as you can, and the wording does matter.  Although today with the internet it is easier to search with a combination of keywords and the topic to find the origin of the quote.  You can also search by author if you are confident in who spoke the words initially.

Now if don’t have the author just the words, you can always type them directly into Google and see what pops up.  Google is pretty good at finding the original quote though they don’t always get the original author right.  Most of the internet is filled with information put there by people who get the attribution wrong.


Probably one of the most reliable sources on the internet to find the origin of a quote is WikiQuote.  It is an online database of quotes from famous people and you can find quotes in almost every language.  It links to the source of information, most often that is Wikipedia.  You can add quotes as well but then need to have their citation sourced.  It will also show you how the original quote has been misquoted and how they came to be.

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Most Famous Shakespeare Quotes

Most Famous Shakespeare Quotes

You must have heard of the legendary actor and playwright named Shakespeare who lived in England 400 years ago. Have you ever wondered what are the famous quotes that shaped Shakespeare as the most famous English poet and playwright we knew today? Here are some of the most famous Quotes from his vast works.

Quotes on Bravery

“Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once” is a historical quote in the play titled “Julius Caesar.” It is a reflection of the negative impact of fear. The context of the quote is at a time when Caesar feared for his life, and his wife was encouraging him.

Quotes on Life

Have you ever wondered about the drama of life? We are often advised to dream big, right? Ever thought how dreams are made, at least in a literal sense? Shakespeare, in The Tempest, indicated, “As dreams are made on, and our little life, is rounded with a sleep.”

The irony above is that sleeping is often associated with slackness. Despite that, the success of life is mostly influenced by our dreams. You can achieve all that your mind can conceive. However, in the modern era, dreams also include vision and objectives set in one’s life.

Quotes on Love

Love and affection are natural phenomena in society. In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has a quote that “Young men’s love then lies; Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes” is a reflection of the modern state of social relationships. Many people commonly abandon their relationships as they do not have true love.

It is uncommon to chastise Romeo for abandoning a love as in the context above. Nonetheless, he had to leave Rosaline for Juliet, which shows the sour side of love.

You could justify Romeo’s action above with a quote that “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is wing’d Cupid painted blind. Thus, true love does not attach value to the physical but the inner values. Isn’t that what we look for when seeking our soulmates?

Shakespeare addresses infidelity in society too. He reflects, in the A Midsummer Night’s Dream, that men have broken more vows than the number of times women spoke. It indicates the infidel nature of men in society. Is it the same stance in modern society? Yes, it is true.

There is a lot that one can learn from Shakespeare. His insights have had a life-changing impact on the lives of many people across the world. You need to know and apply Shakespeare’s quotes and prudence in your life.

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