Sometimes a quote is just a quote
September 6, 2005 1:50 PM   Subscribe

The phrase "Sometimes a pipe is just a pipe" is always attributed to Freud, but is so hackneyed by now -- so well-known -- that it always seems to be cited without any hint of a reference to its original context, which makes me wonder if it is apocryphal. Did Freud really write/say this? If so, where? If not, where does its origins lie? Does anyone know?

And if you found the answer quickly via google, could you please let me know what you searched for, because I'm coming up empty. Thanks, MetaFilter!
posted by .kobayashi. to Grab Bag (14 answers total)
It's a cigar, not a pipe. I'm not sure if it's apocryphal or not. I'll look.
posted by OmieWise at 1:52 PM on September 6, 2005

Here's another page discussing this same question. I didn't read the whole thing, but it seems not to be in writing anywhere and may have been an utterance.
posted by OmieWise at 1:54 PM on September 6, 2005

Yeah, changing your query to "cigar" would help, .kobayashi. -- it has to be a cigar because the quote is about phallic symbolism. A pipe doesn't so much have that (I don't think?). But Magritte did that painting of a pipe, which may be where you are getting confused?
posted by librarina at 1:56 PM on September 6, 2005

Survey says:




But hell, Wikipedia says he said it, unsourced of course, so I guess he must have.
posted by norm at 1:59 PM on September 6, 2005

posted by anathema at 2:02 PM on September 6, 2005

Yeah, cigar instead of pipe makes a difference; that mistake sure didn't help with the searching. Oops, Not that cigar clears everything up, though OmieWise's link suggests that any resolution about it's source is unlikely.

On preview: norm's links suggest the same. Thanks everyone.
posted by .kobayashi. at 2:04 PM on September 6, 2005

Groucho: You know what a cliche is, don't you?

Chico: Of course I do. I know Mama Clichay, Papa Clichay, little Luigi Clichay...

Groucho: No, no. I mean a CLICHE. You know, a phrase, expression, or idea that has been overused to the point of losing its intended force or novelty, especially when at some time it was considered distinctively forceful or novel.

Chico: Oh, you mean like "sometimes a banana is just a banana."

Groucho: Close, but no cigar.
posted by mds35 at 2:07 PM on September 6, 2005

norm: feel free to update the wiki, rather then bitching.
posted by delmoi at 2:42 PM on September 6, 2005

Re: Magritte- perhaps you were thinking of his brother?
posted by IndigoJones at 2:55 PM on September 6, 2005

I have a similar question about Gandhi's famous quip, in response to "a reporter's" question, that Western Civilization "would be a good idea." Sounds fishy; I've never seen an attribution. Can anyone clear that one up while you're at it?
posted by argybarg at 5:36 PM on September 6, 2005

George Burns:
"A woman is just a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke."

I put this here because it is similar enought that maybe some are thinking of this old line.
posted by Goofyy at 4:27 AM on September 7, 2005


That's Kipling, but I could see George Burns repeating it.
posted by electroboy at 7:10 AM on September 7, 2005

norm: feel free to update the wiki, rather then bitching.

Sometimes an observation is just an observation.
posted by norm at 9:03 AM on September 7, 2005

The Freud Museum in London has this on their FAQ:

"Where did Freud say, "Sometimes a cigar is only a cigar."?

If you know the answer to this one, please let us know because we have no idea..."
posted by iviken at 9:32 AM on September 7, 2005

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