17 Famous Quotes You’ve Always Heard…But Who Said Them?

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17 Famous Quotes You’ve Always Heard…But Who Said Them?

17 Famous Quotes You’ve Always Heard…But Who Said Them?

You know the saying “Dance like there’s nobody watching, love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like there’s nobody listening”?  Sure, we all know it, but who originally said it?

Popular quotes have been watered down, altered, and outright hijacked. We’ve seen them plastered on coffee mugs, posters, and even incorporated into tattoos. This list sheds some light on the famous quotes whose authors are owed recognition.

Next time someone spits out a popular quote, you will be able to retort  with the well-known, rarely credited author. Trust me, this can be useful. You’ll land more dates, gain that much needed raise, and get a higher GPA…Promise.


1. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

5768330 (1)American financier, stock investor, philanthropist, statesman, and political consultant, Baruch advised U.S. Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt.





Bernard M. Baruch


2. “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,  Love like you’ll never be hurt, Sing like there’s nobody listening, And live like it’s heaven on earth.”


William W. Purkey

Purkey was a public school teacher turned Professor Emeritus of Counselor Education at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. He has authored nearly 100 articles and more than a dozen books, but I can’t name one of them.


3. “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

Mae West

West is one of the most badass starlets of the early 1900s. Among her accomplishments in film working with Cary grant and Duke Ellington, she had a quick wit and was well known for her double entendres, on and off stage.


4. “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

Robert Frost

The American poet who is responsible for winning our hearts in The Outsiders (Think: Ponyboy) with his poem “Nothing Gold Can Staysuffered a great deal of depression throughout a troubled life. Still, his creative genius shone through, inspiring generations of readers and poetry-lovers all over.


5. “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”


Bil Keane

Yep, we’ve heard this one a million times. Seen it all over Facebook and on greeting cards. Bil Keane, was an American cartoonist who is known mostly for his  work on the long-running newspaper comic The Family Circus.


6. “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

The mantra to live by. Heard for the umpteenth time, this little nugget of encouragement could encourage one to hate Nietzsche for creating such a cliche. But, I digress. He was a renowned philosopher who challenged Christian norms and believed in humanity.


7. “Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”

Most times, only the first sentence of this quote is used. But in reality, like many other popular quotes, this one has often been shortened to imply the meaning of love in the relationship sense. Camus was responsible for popularizing absurdism, philosophy which holds that human existence is meaningless and irrational and that any attempt to understand the universe will ultimately fail. Seems legit.


8. “Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.”

Neil Gaiman

Gaiman, the owner of the most spectacular jew-fro I have ever seen, is one of the most versatile authors of our time. From Gothic novels to children’s books, Gaiman is a creative force to be reckoned with. If he’s not your favorite author now, look him up, he will be.


9. “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

Helen Keller

Keller needs no introduction, but in case you haven’t heard, she was the most amazing woman, nay, person ever to have graced this earth. Her pearls of wisdom are timeless and forever treasured, even if we don’t always realize they came from her.


10. “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Forget Baz Lahurmann’s “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen”, (which, by the way, was originally written by American journalist  Mary Schmich). Mrs. Roosevelt, wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt, was more than the first lady, she was a suffragette and political leader. We owe her credit for many quotes on life and learning.


11. “I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally. ”

W.C. Fields

We’ve seen words stretched across beer bellies in Wal-Marts the world over, but did you know W.C. Feilds was the one responsible for such a quip? W.C. as American juggler, comedian, and actor who created one of the great American comic personas of the first half of the 20th century. One of his stage personas was a man who hated children, dogs, and women, unless they were the wrong sort of women. That would make Mae West the right kind of woman for him, no?


12. “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”

Ayn Rand

It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission in Rand’s eyes. Jewish born Alisha Rosenbaum came to America with money she got from selling her mother’s jewelry. She became an iconic novelist and philosopher creating Objectivism, the idea that being selfish is actually for the greater good of mankind and Laissez-faire Capitalism and the free market are for the best.


13. “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”



“Confucius say” is usually how it starts out, but the one has been repeated time and time again by countless financially successful folks, making us poor minions really, really hate our jobs.


14. “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”


Audrey Hepburn

The timelessly fashionable actress and humanitarian is rarely credited for tis little gem. One of the queens of quotes, she knew a great deal about life, love, and everything in-between.


15. “Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”

Alfred Tennyson, In Memoriam

I’ll be honest, as a lover of literature, I thought that this quote was straight Shakespeare. To my, and probably your, disappointment it was from some Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom during Queen Victoria’s reign.  *sigh*


16. “When you’re in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, ‘Damn, that was fun’.”


Groucho Marx

Master of wit and  one of three Marx brothers, Groucho was a funny man who’s talents included rapid-fire, innuendo-laden patter, and exaggerated features that delighted audiences from Vaudeville to the silver screen.


17. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”



There has been a rash of thought-provoking photos laden with this quote on social media lately, but who knew it was the words of Plato. Wondering how he felt about not being properly cited for this quote, I decided to investigate. He was unavailable for questioning.


18. As a bonus, the great reveal:

“Keep Calm and Carry On


Keep Calm and Carry On was a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 and was intended to raise the morale of the British public in preparation for WWII. Though not widely used at the time, a copy was rediscovered in 2000 and since then used for Every. Single. Idea.

Thanks a lot Britain!!!

Related topics Audrey Hepburn quotes, authors, famous quotes, Fun Facts, Helen Keller, KCCO, Keep calm and carry on, life quotes, lists, love quotes, Neil Gaiman, popular quotes, quotes, quotes about, Robert Frost, Wear Sunscreen
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