Talk:Winston Churchill

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/Archive 1


These require citations to adequate sources before being placed into the main article.
For myself, I am an optimist — it does not seem to be much use being anything else.
  • I am certainly not one of those who need to be prodded. In fact, if anything, I am the prod.
  • Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.
  • Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.
  • Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.
  • A prisoner of war is a man who tries to kill you and fails, and then asks you not to kill him.
  • Although personally I am quite content with existing explosives, I feel we must not stand in the path of improvement.
  • An old town clerk looking at European affairs through the wrong end of a municipal drainpipe
  • He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.
  • He is the man who brought pederasty into disrepute.
  • His ear is so close to the ground, it has locusts in it.
  • Eating my own words has never given me indigestion.
  • If you wanted nothing done at all, Balfour was the man for the job.
  • I like a man who grins when he fights.
  • I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
  • I must warn him that he runs a very grave risk of falling into senility before he is overtaken by age.
    • Churchill's interruption to an MP's rambling speech against his wartime policies.
  • I neither want it [brandy] nor need it, but I should think it pretty hazardous to interfere with the ineradicable habit of a lifetime.
  • I think I can save the British Empire from anything — except the British.
    • On the British intellectuals and their severe criticisms of Britain.
  • If you are going through hell, keep going.
  • In attack most daring, in defence most cunning, in endurance most steadfast, they performed a feat of arms which will be remembered and recounted as long as the virtues of courage and resolution have power to move the hearts of men. (on the First Airborne Division at Arnhem)
  • In war it does not matter who is right, but who is left.
  • Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.
  • One must regard the hyphen as a blemish to be avoided whenever possible.
  • One ought never to turn one's back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half.
  • Personally I am of the opinion that four assessments in three days is excessive, especially in an assessment-free week.
    • Addressed to the students of All Saints' College, Australia, remarking on their excessively heavy workload. (needs a date or other sourcing)
  • Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential. [citation needed]
    • This may be an old military aphorism.
  • So little time, so much to do.
    • On one occasion during an election campaign Churchill was speaking in a church hall in rural England. The hall was decorated in the well accepted colour scheme of that era – mission brown up to shoulder height, then cream up to and including the ceiling. When he finished his speech Churchill called for questions. The first came from a middle-aged woman dressed in country tweeds. "Mr Churchill, I am a member of the Temperance League," she said, "My local branch has been examining your use of alcohol. Are you aware Prime Minister that, during your lifetime to date you have consumed enough alcohol to fill this hall up to here" stretching her arm dramatically to indicate the mission brown zone on the wall. "We want to know what you intend to do about it." Churchill looked at the woman, followed her arm to the top of the mission brown zone, and then slowly allowed his gaze to move up through the cream zone to the ceiling. "So little time, so much to do" he said.
  • Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
  • The biggest argument against democracy is a five minute discussion with the average voter.
    • Variant: The best argument against democracy is a five-minute talk with the average voter.
  • The honourable gentleman should not really generate more indignation than he can conveniently contain.
    • To an MP who kept standing and interrupting him.
  • The price of greatness is responsibility.
    • Variant: The price of leadership is responsibilty.
  • There are a terrible lot of lies going around the world, and the worst of it is half of them are true.
  • The reserve of modern assertions is sometimes pushed to extremes, in which the fear of being contradicted leads the writer to strip himself of almost all sense and meaning.
  • The United States invariably does the right thing, after having exhausted every other alternative.
    • Variant: You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.
  • This is Winston Churchill speaking. If you have a microphone in my room, it is a waste of time. I do not talk in my sleep.
    • [When told his room was possibly bugged]
  • Unless some effective world supergovernment for the purpose of preventing war can be set up ... the prospects for peace and human progress are dark ... If ... it is found possible to build a world organization of irresistible force and inviolable authority for the purpose of securing peace, there are no limits to the blessings which all men enjoy and share.
    • Variant: Unless we establish some form of world government, it will not be possible for us to avert a World War III in the future.
  • We will not say thereafter that the Greeks fight like heroes, but heroes fight like the Greeks!
    • Statement after the news of Greek victory against fascist Italy
  • When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.
  • Why stand when you can sit?
  • Yes, now bugger off.
    • To his grandson after he asked if he was the greatest man alive.
  • You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.
  • Makes you proud to be British doesn't it?
    • Upon being told that a backbench MP had been caught by the press performing indecent acts with a guardsman in St James' Park during one of the coldest February nights in 30 years
    • w:Ian Harvey (politician)
  • I am not a pillar of the church. I am more of a flying buttress: I support it from the outside.

Anecdotal dialogue


Most of these Churchill anecdotes have been widely reported.
Unless sources are specifically provided, no assumptions should be made about the accuracy of these accounts.

  • Shortly before George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play Pygmalion received its first English performance at His Majesty’s Theatre in London
    (on April 11, 1914), Shaw sent the following telegram to Winston Churchill :
  • Churchill sent this telegram to Shaw in reply :
    • Cited in TELEGRAM ! , Linda Rosenkrantz, Macmillan (2003), pp. 55-56 ISBN 0805071016
  • Lady Nancy Astor: If I were your wife I would put poison in your coffee!
    Churchill: And if I were your husband I would drink it!
    • George Thayer (who worked as research assistant to Randolph Churchill on the latter's biography of Winston), wrote in 1971 that this anecdote was false. In any case, this joke appears to be an old one. The January 3, 1900 issue of the Chicago Tribune printed the following: “‘If I had a husband like you,’ she said with concentrated scorn, ‘I'd give him poison!’ ‘Mad'm,’ he rejoined, looking her over with a feeble sort of smile, ‘If I had a wife like you I'd take it.’”
    • As cited in The Yale Book of quotations (2006), ed. Shapiro & Epstein, Yale University Press, p. 155 ISBN 0300107986
  • Bessie Braddock: Winston, you are drunk, and what's more, you are disgustingly drunk.
    Churchill: Bessie, my dear, you are ugly, and what's more, you are disgustingly ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be disgustingly ugly.
    • This exchange was confirmed to Richard Langworth by Ronald Golding, a bodyguard present on the occasion (as Churchill was leaving the House of Commons in 1946).
    • Note : in the 1934 movie It’s a Gift W.C. Field’s character, when told he is drunk, responds, ‘Yeah, and you’re crazy. But I’ll be sober tomorrow and you’ll be crazy the rest of your life.’
    • As cited in Churchill by Himself, ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 550 ISBN 1586486381
  • Young man (seeing Churchill leaving the bathroom without washing his hands): At Eton they taught us to wash our hands after using the toilet.
    Churchill: At Harrow they taught us not to piss on our hands.

  • Churchill: Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?
    Socialite: My goodness, Mr. Churchill ... Well, I suppose ... we would have to discuss terms, of course ...
    Churchill: Would you sleep with me for five pounds?
    Socialite: Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!
    Churchill: Madam, we've already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.

(This is a very old joke where the participants vary dramatically from each telling. It's very unlikely though not impossible that the joke originated from Churchill.)

  • Unknown MP, sitting behind Churchill on the back benches during his twilight years, to adjacent colleague, sotto voce: He's not what he used to be. They say he's gone senile.
    Churchill, turning around to face them: And they say he has gone deaf as well!
  • Upon being told of the Lord Privy Seal's arrival at Chequers :
    • Tell the privy seal, I am sealed to the privy, and can only deal with one shit at a time.
  • In the Urinals of the House of Commons, upon the entry of Clement Attlee, Churchill moves to the far end of the room:
    • Attlee: My dear Winston, I hope that despite being adversaries in the house, we could be Friends outside of it.
    • Churchill: Ah Clement, I have no quarrel with you, but in my experience, when you see something that's big and works well, you tend to want to nationalise it.

"Never give in" quote is slightly incorrect?


According to the linked audio, the correct form of this quote is "Never give in, never give in, never never never..." instead of the current "Never give in — never, never, never, never ..."

Another options is of course that the current quote is correct and that the audio has been recorded afterwards. 16:31, 28 May 2017 (UTC)Reply

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.


The quotation above is located in the Misattributed section which is fine. Unfortunately, the 1905 citation "American Character" is wrong, and it should be removed. The link for the citation actually points to a 1929 book called “Adventurous America: A Study of Contemporary Life and Thought” by Edwin Mims. The two books are incorrectly combined in the HathiTrust database; hence the metadata is inaccurate. Here is a link to the front page of "Adventurous America" that appears after the end of "American Character".

I do not directly modify public-facing Wikiquote webpages because I operate a website about quotations . This fact might be considered a conflict of interest. Garson (talk) 12:16, 27 July 2017 (UTC)Reply

'If Hitler invaded hell ...'


The date given here is the evening before Barbarossa. Is this correct? Since the quote ends with 'in the House of Commons' it sounds as if he had already made such a statement (of encouragement to Stalin) and that it was not hypothetical. I wonder if Nagorski got the date wrong? 23:16, 4 March 2018 (UTC)Reply

It is all the fault of democracy and science


I've never looked in WQ, much less contributed, but I ran across this bit in "A Roving Commission", 1930, Chapter V, Page 65:

  • War, which used to be cruel and magnificent, has now become cruel and squalid. In fact it has been completely spoilt. It is all the fault of Democracy and Science.

Ought it be added? Oh. Link, of course. Jim.henderson (talk) 13:35, 3 September 2020 (UTC)Reply

Count on Americans to do the right thing . . .


This should probably be deleted from the main section, since the same quote is included in the Misattributed section with fairly persuasive explanation. --Nomenclaturist (talk) 01:09, 10 October 2022 (UTC)Reply

Pillar of the church


"His father when he was once asked if he was a pillar of the church defined his position as 'a flying buttress, I support it from the outside.'"

Undated. Kay Halle's introduction to "Randolph Churchill: The young unpretender", pg 4. Cagliost (talk) 06:38, 4 May 2024 (UTC)Reply



There are two quotes that I have researched some while ago and seem misattributed, if not invented. However I don't have my notes any longer, so I thought I'd record what I recall to help anyone in the future.

1951 Exhibition as "3d socialist propaganda". Churchill's true opinions seem to have been generally supportive, as documented by The International Churchill Society. The quote seems to originate from a book which says something to the effect "Churchill considered that the Exhibition was 3d socialist propaganda" (without, as I recall a reference). Subsequently this was turned into a quote, probably someone took indirect speech as direct speech, or got fuddled in their notes.

"The little yellow men will never dare challenge the might of the British Empire." This first appeared in a 1970s British television series of lectures by a A. J. P. Taylor, about WWII leaders. It's not clear if this was originally meant to be a direct quote without viewing the lecture. The lectures were delivered without notes, and unprepared. They were transcribed into a book (The War Lords) and The Listener without any significant revision, and seem to be the ultimate source of numerous reproductions. This is also at least one source of the misattribution of "My Cross of Lorraine" to Churchill.

All the best: Rich Farmbrough 18:09, 7 July 2024 (UTC).Reply