God does not play roulette

— Albert Einstein

There are cases that I feel like a change in the original quote would make it more rhythm, poetic, or reflect the spirit of the quote better. How should I approach this? Should I:

  • just cite the author as if they actually said it?
  • go lengthy with an explanation that this is not the original quote, but I feel like my version is better?
  • or cite the author of the newer version (which can happen to be me)?

2 Answers 2


If you want to make it a quote, your only choice is to give the exact words. The only leeway lies in quotes from a foreign language, where you can pick and choose translations, or proverbs, where you can see if there is a variation that says what you want.

A paraphrasing requires at the very least, "Einstein said that this is true," and it may be wiser to say, "To paraphrase Einstein, this is true."

  • I wonder if the modified quote can be regarded as derivative work?
    – Ooker
    Nov 21, 2020 at 11:19

Your quote is incomplete.

What you should do is phrase it like this:

Take: Einstein said "God does not play dice with the universe " and Change to: Like Einstein indicated: God does not gamble or change gamble to roulette if you must, but it will lose credibility with people who know the correct statement when you make a specific change like that.

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