You say that you love rain, but you open your umbrella when it rains.

You say that you love rain, but you open your umbrella when it rains.
You say that you love the sun, but you find a shadow spot when the sun shines.
You say that you love the wind, but you close your windows when wind blows.
This is why I am afraid, you say that you love me too.

I must not be hanging out in the right circles, because I’d never heard this quote – but when I went googling for it, it’s all over the place.  It should take about 2 seconds to realize that this isn’t Shakespeare, just another victim of “I don’t know who said it so I’ll make it sound better by attaching Shakespeare’s name.”

Here’s a tip – whenever you see one of these quotes attributed to Shakespeare that’s written in second person (in other words, says “you do this” and “you do that” a lot), ask yourself “Who was he talking to?” and “Where would this make sense in his work?”  Shakespeare wasn’t in the business of writing Hallmark cards. Rarely does one character just stand there and go on and on about another, as in this quote.  

The best I’ve been able to find is that this quote is a Turkish poem called “I Am Afraid (Korkuyorum)” which is attributed even in the original to William Shakespeare.  The source material long since disappeared from the net, but with a little help from the Wayback Machine – here it is, I Am Afraid (Korkuyorum), in the original Turkish along with English translation. Enjoy.  If anybody knows the actual author, please let us know.  It’s just not Shakespeare.

UPDATED May 29, 2012

It appears that the original author’s name might very well be Qyazzirah Syeikh Ariffin.  At least, there are a number of sources attributing the Turkish version of the poem to him.


Hear the meaning within the word.

This one happens to be going around Twitter at the moment. And, as someone on Yahoo! Answers said, “This is quoted 100s of times around the net, but no one ever says where it’s from.” I’ve found similar results in all my searches. Although Shakespeare used the word “meaning” frequently, I can find no combination of meaning along with “hear” and “word” that suggests where this quote might have come from.

I’m still looking for a real source, but like so many other of these Hallmark sentiments, it’s just too simple to ever hope to find evidence for someone who said it first.


Temptation is a fire that brings up the scum of the heart.

I saw this one go by and thought, “Are you kidding me? Do we really want to think that the best Shakespeare could come up with is something like ‘scum of the heart’?”  It didn’t help that there’s even places on the net where people asked “What play is this from?” and were told “Merchant of Venice.”  Not true.  Shakespeare does use the word “scum” four times in his work, but never in this context.

This one took me awhile to find. It is quoted often in the history books, and always with the word “Boston” next to it.  For awhile I thought that had something to do with a collection of papers or a particular essay that was being cited.  Then it dawned on me that this is an actual person — Thomas Boston, a Scottish church leader born in 1676 (so, not too long after Shakespeare).  Here, from Google Books, is the man’s own words:

Observe your hearts all times but especially under temptation. Temptation is a fire that brings up the scum of the vile heart: Do you carefully mark the first risings of corruption.

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The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.

Alternate / Original : The diminutive chains of habit are seldom heavy enough to be felt till they are too strong to be broken.

Saw this one go by on Twitter this morning, and it didn’t feel right.  Seems too much like advice, and not the sort of Polonial (ha, I just made that up!) advice like “To thine own self be true,” where it’s directed from one character to another. As a general rule, most of what you’ll find in Shakespeare’s body of work is something that someone said, aloud, to someone else.  (True there are soliloquies, and then there’s the sonnets and long poems, but the bulk of the canon is made up of conversation). So ask yourself whether it sounds like something that would have come up in normal conversation.

Turns out, in this case, it’s not.  However it’s closer to Shakespeare than you might think.

This quote comes from our old friend Samuel Johnson, sometime in the late 1700’s.  Though I cannot find an exact reference to Dr. Johnson’s work, others were quoting him as early as the 1880’s.

In case you missed the Shakespeare connection, you need to go here.

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See first that the design is wise and just; that ascertained, pursue it resolutely.

I find no evidence that Shakespeare wrote this. I see no use of “ascertain” in his work, and only three unrelated uses of the word “resolutely.”

The question remains, however – who said it, if Shakespeare didn’t?

How about Aesop, the guy from all the fables?


This is the only reference I can find that suggests Aesop, and even then the context is a little weird – the quote in question stands out in the middle of the page, somewhat unrelated to the rest of the context.

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Expectation Is The Root Of All Heartache

The origin of this quote, in this form at least, is unknown – but it is not Shakespeare. No one has been able to find a reference in Shakespeare’s works to these words, though it is a matter of opinion whether you might find something similar that Shakespeare said, that has evolved into the above.

Actually this quote closely resembles the Second Noble Truth of Buddhism, which is often expressed as “Desire is the root of all suffering.” What is expectation but desiring a certain outcome?

If you’d like to pursue that thread some more, you wouldn’t be the first person to consider a Shakespeare/Buddhism connection.


Assassination and Bump

You probably see it quoted all the time : “Shakespeare invented the words assassination and bump!”

It is…inaccurate.  What does it mean to invent a word?  Can history ever really trace the first person to string together a series of letters in a way that no one else ever did?

It is more correct to say that Shakespeare represents the first recorded use of the word.  In that case, the statement is true : assassination appears in Macbeth, and bump (as a noun, not like to bump into somebody) appears in Romeo and Juliet.

For the curious, here’s one of many lists of words that Shakespeare is first credited with using. I choose this list because it attempts to clarify how Shakespeare used each word when he used it in a way differently than we do now.  “Import”, for example, was just a different way for him to say “importance,” and that is not how we use it today.

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Women Speak Two Languages, One Of Which Is Verbal

Best research I can come up with at the moment suggests that this Twitter “Top Retweet” comes not from Shakespeare, but from someone named Steve Rubenstein. I have no idea who this is, perhaps someone could tell me.  A magazine editor of some reputation?

What I find amusing in cases like this is to see when the quote shows up on Yahoo! Answers.  If you’ve ever needed a reason to prove why community-sourced answers are as good as you pay for, check it out.  The user is smart enough to ask, “If this is by Shakespeare, somebody tell me the source citation.”  Best answer, chosen by voters, is a simple “It’s by Shakespeare.”  An entirely wrong, by definition, answer.  I don’t know what’s more annoying, the person who answers the question incorrectly just to get whatever points are offered (depending on the engine), or the people voting for it as a good answer.


The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword

Personally I’ve never seen this one attributed to Shakespeare, but when the topic came up today at lunch this is the one my new boss pulled up to test me.

“The pen is mightier than the sword” actually shares a bit of infamy with “It was a dark and stormy night.”  Both, you see, were by Edward Bulwer-Lytton.  The latter actually inspired a contest to write in his rather unique style.

Just to regain my cred a bit (since I did not have the answer off the top of my head), I had to show my boss that Shakespeare Geek covered the topic back in April of this year, and it was reader Alexi who offered up the appropriate comment:

The one I always hear is "The pen is mightier than the sword" which is not from Shakespeare but from the 19th century novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, whose other contribution to literature is the phrase "It was a dark and stormy night," which is also usually attributed to someone else. In this case, Charles Schultz, creator of Peanuts.

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