FACT CHECK: Did Isaac Newton Say This Quote About Tact?

Trevor Schakohl | Legal Reporter

A post shared on Facebook credits Sir Isaac Newton with saying, “Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy.”

Verdict: False

There is no evidence Newton ever made this statement. It may actually come from advertising executive Howard W. Newton.

Fact Check:

An English physicist and mathematician, Newton formulated three laws describing the motion of objects that would eventually form the basis of classical mechanics. He published the three laws of motion, as well as his theory of universal gravity, in the “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica.”

Newton wrote on a variety of subjects during his lifetime, ranging from the motion of the planets to the composition of white light, yet there is no evidence that he authored this saying. A search of the Newton Project archive turned up no results in his texts, notebooks, or correspondence.

“Isaac Newton never made such a statement,” said California Institute of Technology professor Mordechai Feingold in an email to The Daily Caller. “It’s often attributed to Howard Newton.”

Indeed, website Quote Investigator found the earliest match for the statement in the August 1946 issue of a women’s magazine called Redbook. The quote, which appears in a sidebar along with seven other sayings, appears to have been written by Howard W. Newton.

Trevor Schakohl

Legal Reporter
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