17 Things Albert Einstein Really Did Say

Albert Einstein circa 1947
When you're a genius, it's no wonder people want to quote you all the time. Wikipedia

Albert Einstein was a man of many words. The theoretical physicist — who is often considered the epitome of genius — is quoted by professors and philosophers, celebrities and calendars.

But interestingly, many of the quotes aren't things he actually said. You can find hundreds of misattributed Einstein quotes on the internet alone.

"And with social media," Alice Calaprice, author of "The Ultimate Quotable Einstein," tells From The Grapevine, "these quotations are spreading around the world more quickly than in Einstein’s day."

According to the story, the most famous misquote is: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Archivist Barbara Wolff at the Einstein Archives in Jerusalem tracked down that quote and found it belonged to author Rita Mae Brown in her 1983 book "Sudden Death."

So, what did Einstein say? Here are several quotes the famed scientist actually uttered or penned.

Albert Einstein age 25
At age 25, Einstein was married and working in the Swiss Patent Office. Wikipedia

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day."

"My interest in science was always essentially limited to the study of principles.... That I have published so little is due to this same circumstance, as the great need to grasp principles has caused me to spend most of my time on fruitless pursuits."

Albert Einstein during a lecture in Vienna in 1921.
Einstein gave many lectures around the world, including in Vienna, where he's shown here, in 1921. Wikipedia

"One thing I have learned in a long life: that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike — and yet it is the most precious thing we have."

"Why is it that nobody understands me, and everybody likes me?"

"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."

"If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music ... I cannot tell if I would have done any creative work of importance in music, but I do know that I get most joy in life out of my violin."

"Reading after a certain age diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking, just as the man who spends too much time in the theater is tempted to be content with living vicariously instead of living his own life."

Portrait of Einstein taken in 1935 at Princeton
Portrait of Einstein taken in 1935 at Princeton University where he was a resident scholar. Wikipedia

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science."

"If I were to start taking care of my grooming, I would no longer be my own self."

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

"The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible."

"Though I am now an old fogey, I am still hard at work and still refuse to believe that God plays dice."

Einstein memorial in Washington, D.C.
A memorial celebrating Einstein can be seen on the grounds of the National Academy of Science in Washington, D.C. Cristina CIOCHINA/Shutterstock.com

"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

"I want to know God's thoughts ... the rest are details."

"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile."

"I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind."

"I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."