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So Is a Cigar Ever Just a Cigar?

cigar.jpg “There’s a sucker born every minute”—but not according to P.T. Barnum. A new book of quotations seeks to set the record straight on famous bits of wit and wisdom considered to be a part of our culture. The ‘sucker’ phrase? Probably came from a showman/con man named “Paper Collar Joe” and attributed to Barnum by rivals who sought to discredit him.

Yale librarian and editor Fred Shapiro published the The Yale Book of Quotations to debunk that and other such wrongly attributed words, such as, “The British are coming!” which was not said by Paul Revere; “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” which was not said by Freud; and “War is hell,” which was not said by Gen. William T. Sherman. According to Shapiro, notable quotes are often just put in the wrong context: turns out Mae West did, in fact, say “Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” but not seductively in one of her films—she was talking to a police officer assigned to escort her.

You can contribute your own quotations to Shapiro’s project, find links to other Shapiro-approved quotation sources, or take a quotations quiz at The Yale Book of Quotations website.

Link: Yale Book of Quotations

Flickr photo from MarkNick (cc)


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