Test your knowledge of famous literary phrases

Writers often rely on common language constructions to excite and enthrall readers. However, do they always know where these phrases come from?

Famous literary phrases

Many PR pros have a love-hate relationship with language.

We love to discover new words and new meanings; yet, there are many words we would wish away if we could. Many of these unwanted words and catchphrases have been around for decades and are here to stay.

Catchphrases come from a variety of sources: TV, movies, sports, politics or advertising. Some catchphrases might be so familiar that you don’t think twice about where they came from. For example, I never knew the menacing phrase “It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where your children are?” came from PSAs that aired after news broadcasts in the 1960s.

For this post, let’s go in a different direction and test your knowledge of catchphrases from fiction and literature. So, make your English teacher proud and match these famous snippets with their original works. (Check your answers at the end.)


1. “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”
2. “All that glitters is not gold.”
3. “Big Brother is watching you.”
4. “Don’t panic!”
5. “Exit, pursued by a bear.”
6.  “Four legs good, two legs bad!”>
7. “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”
8. “It was a pleasure to burn.”
9. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that . . .”
10. “Not all those who wander are lost”
11. “So it goes.”
12. “Nevermore.’”
13. “Nothing comes from nothing.”
14. “Now is the winter of my discontent”
15. “Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice.”

Where it came from

A. “Animal Farmby George Orwell
B. “Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel” by Kurt Vonnegut
C. “Richard III” by William Shakespeare
D. “1984” by George Orwell
E. “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
F. “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost
G. “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” by Salman Rushdie
H. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” by J.K. Rowling
I. “The Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare
J. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams
K. “Inferno” by Dante Alighieri
L. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury
M. “The Fellowship of the Ring” by JRR Tolkien
N. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
O. “The Winter’s Tale” by William Shakespeare


1. K.
2. I.
3. D.
4. J.
5. O.
6. A.
7. H.
8. L.
9. N.
10. M.
11. B.
12. E.
13. G.
14. C.
15. F.

How did you do?

Laura Hale Brockway is a writer/editor/marketer/ living in Austin, Texas. Read more of her work on PR Daily and at Impertinent Remarks.


One Response to “Test your knowledge of famous literary phrases”

    Melissa Kiser says:

    A fun quiz! I’m not sure that Rushdie deserves credit for “Nothing comes from nothing,” however. It’s a very old saying, and probably Shakespeare’s use of it in King Lear is better known than Rushdie’s. And while I’m wearing my Shakespeare pedant hat, I should point out that, originally, #2 in The Merchant of Venice is “All that GLISTERS is not gold” (and that saying probably was not original to Shakespeare, either) and that #14 should be “Now is the winter of OUR discontent.”

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