After becoming the first person ever to set foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong’s first words were supposed to be…”That’s one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.” Unfortunately, however, Armstrong flubbed his line in the excitement of the moment, omitting one small word (“a”) and delivering the line as “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.”

The missing article made a world of difference in literal meaning, though — instead of a statement linking the small action of one man with a monumental achievement for (and by) all of humanity, Armstrong instead uttered a somewhat contradictory phrase that equated a small step by the human race with a momentous achievement by humankind (“man” and “mankind” having the same approximate meaning in English). Nonetheless, since the quote as actually spoken by Armstrong still sounded good, and most everyone understood the meaning he intended to convey, his words were widely repeated that day and have since joined the pantheon of the most well-known quotes in the English language.

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