Quotations Weblog

Ask Michael: Why do some quotes say “attributed”?

March 27th, 2007 by Laura Moncur in Site News


1. What is the justification of including “attributed” quotes here? What are the standards for concluding that an attribution is correct?

2. Should quotes that are “attributed” be included here at all? ever?

3. If “Yes”, then shouldn’t there be some attribution of the attribution? eg: Max Born in his autobiography quotes Albert Einstein as having said “….”.

I would be uneasy ever using any “quote” that can only be vaguely, without reference, rhyme, or reason, “attributed”.


Kip Hansen


The short answer is that the “Attributed” tag means we have a strong suspicion that the quote is wrongly attributed and is not really the work of the quoted author.

So why is the quote still there? One of two reasons:

  1. We haven’t determined the true attribution yet, but we don’t want the quotation to be missing if someone searches for it.

  2. People commonly attribute the quotation to the supposed author, so we include it under their name where people will be looking for it. In these cases, there is usually a note indicating the true author. See for example the following quotation commonly attributed to Voltaire:

Ideally we would only have quotations in the second category, but we have a limited amount of time for tracking down quotation sources.

Incidentally, you would be pleased to know that there is also a “verified” flag in our database, which will indicate quotations with a verified attribution. This will become visible when we update the site in a month or two.

Michael Moncur
Owner and maintainer, The Quotations Page

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