Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD REFERENCE (www.oxfordreference.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2013. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

Subscriber: null; date: 16 January 2019

I counted them all out and I counted them all back

Source:
Brewer's Dictionary of Modern Phrase & Fable
Author(s):
John AytoJohn Ayto, Ian CroftonIan Crofton

I counted them all out and I counted them all back. 

The words used by Brian Hanrahan (b.1949) in a BBC television broadcast from the Falkland Islands during the Falklands War, referring to the British Harrier jets that had taken part in a raid on Port Stanley, 1 May 1982. Hanrahan prefaced the phrase with an explanation that he was subject to military censorship: ‘I'm not allowed to say how many planes joined the raid, but …’ The phrase has often since been parodied or used in less serious contexts.