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date: 23 May 2024

Winston Churchill 1874–1965
British Conservative statesman, Prime Minister 1940–5, 1951–5. See also Johnson 

  1. 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.
    address to the inaugural meeting of the Free Trade League, February 19, 1904; Randolph Churchill Winston Churchill: Young Statesman (1967)
  2. It cannot in the opinion of His Majesty's Government be classified as slavery in the extreme acceptance of the word without some risk of terminological inexactitude.
    speech in the House of Commons, 22 February 1906
  3. He is one of those orators of whom it was well said, ‘Before they get up, they do not know what they are going to say; when they are speaking, they do not know what they are saying; and when they have sat down, they do not know what they have said.’
    of Lord Charles Beresford
    speech, House of Commons, 20 December 1912
  4. The whole map of Europe has been changed…but as the deluge subsides and the waters fall short we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again.
    speech in the House of Commons, 16 February 1922
  5. Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat.
    on rejoining the Conservatives twenty years after leaving them for the Liberals, 1924
    Kay Halle Irrepressible Churchill (1966)
  6. I decline utterly to be impartial as between the fire brigade and the fire.
    replying to complaints of his bias in editing the British Gazette during the General Strike
    speech, House of Commons, 7 July 1926
  7. Cultured people are merely the glittering scum which floats upon the deep river of production.
    on hearing his son Randolph criticize the lack of culture of the Calgary oil magnates, probably c.1929
    Martin Gilbert In Search of Churchill (1994)
  8. I have waited 50 years to see the boneless wonder sitting on the Treasury Bench.
    of Ramsay MacDonald
    speech in the House of Commons, 28 January 1931
  9. [The Government] go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.
    speech in the House of Commons, 12 November 1936
  10. Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.
    letter, 11 November 1937
  11. I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
    radio broadcast, 1 October 1939
  12. Action this day.
    annotation as used at the Admiralty in 1940
  13. An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.
    in the House of Commons, January 1940
  14. I felt as if I was walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and this trial.
    on becoming Prime Minister, 10 May 1940
  15. I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.
    speech in the House of Commons, 13 May 1940; see Byron
  16. What is our policy?…to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime.
    speech in the House of Commons, 13 May 1940
  17. What is our aim?…Victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror; victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.
    speech in the House of Commons, 13 May 1940
  18. We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
    speech in the House of Commons, 4 June 1940
  19. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’
    speech in the House of Commons, 18 June 1940
  20. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
    on the skill and courage of British airmen in the Battle of Britain
    speech in the House of Commons, 20 August 1940
  21. Here is the answer which I will give to President Roosevelt…Give us the tools and we will finish the job.
    radio broadcast, 9 February 1941
  22. The British nation is unique in this respect. They are the only people who like to be told how bad things are, who like to be told the worst.
    speech in the House of Commons, 10 June 1941
  23. A monster of wickedness, insatiable in his lust for blood and plunder…this bloodthirsty guttersnipe.
    of Adolf Hitler
    radio broadcast, 26 June 1941
  24. Never give in. Never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force: never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
    speech to boys at Harrow School, 29 October 1941
  25. When I warned them [the French Government] that Britain would fight on alone whatever they did, their generals told their Prime Minister and his divided Cabinet, ‘In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken.’ Some chicken! Some neck!
    speech to Canadian Parliament, 30 December 1941
  26. A medal glitters, but it also casts a shadow.
    a reference to the envy caused by the award of honours
    in 1941; Kenneth Rose King George V (1983)
  27. Let me have the best solution worked out. Don't argue the matter. The difficulties will argue for themselves.
    on the Mulberry floating harbours
    minute to Lord Mountbatten, 30 May 1942
  28. Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
    on the Battle of Egypt
    speech at the Mansion House, London, 10 November 1942
  29. We make this wide encircling movement in the Mediterranean, having for its primary object the recovery of the command of that vital sea, but also having for its object the exposure of the underbelly of the Axis, especially Italy, to heavy attack.
    often quoted as, ‘The soft underbelly of Europe’
    speech in the House of Commons, 11 November 1942
  30. National compulsory insurance for all classes for all purposes from the cradle to the grave.
    radio broadcast, 21 March 1943, in Complete Speeches (1974) vol. 7
  31. There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies.
    radio broadcast, 21 March 1943
  32. The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.
    speech at Harvard, 6 September 1943, in Onwards to Victory (1944)
  33. We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.
    in the House of Commons, 28 October 1943
  34. I confess myself to be a great admirer of tradition. The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward.
    speech, March 1944
  35. From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.
    ‘iron curtain’ previously had been applied by others to the Soviet Union or her sphere of influence, e.g. Ethel Snowden Through Bolshevik Russia (1920), Dr Goebbels Das Reich (25 February 1945), and by Churchill himself in a cable to President Truman (4 June 1945)
    speech at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, 5 March 1946
  36. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
    speech in the House of Commons, 11 November 1947
  37. For my part, I consider that it will be found much better by all Parties to leave the past to history, especially as I propose to write that history myself.
    speech in the House of Commons, 23 January 1948
  38. This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.
    Ernest Gowers Plain Words (1948) ‘Troubles with Prepositions’
  39. Naval tradition?. Monstrous. Nothing but rum, sodomy, prayers, and the lash.
    often quoted as ‘rum, sodomy, and the lash’, as in Peter Gretton Former Naval Person (1968)
    Harold Nicolson, diary, 17 August 1950
  40. To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.
    speech at White House, 26 June 1954
  41. A modest man who has a good deal to be modest about.
    of Clement Attlee
    in Chicago Sunday Tribune Magazine of Books 27 June 1954
  42. It was the nation and the race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion's heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar. I also hope that I sometimes suggested to the lion the right place to use his claws.
    speech at Westminster Hall, 30 November 1954
  43. I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.
    Quentin Reynolds By Quentin Reynolds (1964) ch. 11
  44. In defeat unbeatable: in victory unbearable.
    of Lord Montgomery
    Edward Marsh Ambrosia and Small Beer (1964) ch. 5
  45. Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because as has been said, it is the quality which guarantees all others.
    Great Contemporaries (1937)
  46. I wrote my name at the top of the page. I wrote down the number of the question ‘1’. After much reflection I put a bracket round it thus ‘(1)’. But thereafter I could not think of anything connected with it that was either relevant or true.…It was from these slender indications of scholarship that Mr Welldon drew the conclusion that I was worthy to pass into Harrow. It is very much to his credit.
    My Early Life (1930) ch. 2
  47. Headmasters have powers at their disposal with which Prime Ministers have never yet been invested.
    My Early Life (1930) ch. 2
  48. It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations.
    My Early Life (1930) ch. 9
  49. In war: resolution. In defeat: defiance. In victory: magnanimity. In peace: goodwill.
    The Second World War vol. 1 (1948) epigraph, which according to Edward Marsh in A Number of People (1939), occurred to Churchill shortly after the conclusion of the First World War
  50. The loyalties which centre upon number one are enormous. If he trips he must be sustained. If he makes mistakes they must be covered. If he sleeps he must not be wantonly disturbed. If he is no good he must be pole-axed. But this last extreme process cannot be carried out every day; and certainly not in the days just after he has been chosen.
    The Second World War vol. 2 (1949)
  51. If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.
    The Second World War (1950) vol. 3, ch. 20
  52. It may almost be said, ‘Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat.’
    Second World War vol. 4 (1951)
  53. In wartime…truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.
    The Second World War vol. 5 (1951)
  54. Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.
    The Story of the Malakand Field Force (1898)
  55. I cannot pretend to feel impartial about the colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones, and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns.
    Thoughts and Adventures (1932)
  56. Jellicoe was the only man on either side who could lose the war in an afternoon.
    The World Crisis (1927) pt. 1, ch. 5
  57. Out of intense complexities intense simplicities emerge.
    The World Crisis (1923–9)
  58. The ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen.
    describing the qualifications desirable in a prospective politician
    B. Adler Churchill Wit (1965)
  59. I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
    attributed, in M. Gilbert Never Despair (1988)
  60. 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.
    Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan Glitter and Gold (1952)
  61. A sheep in sheep's clothing.
    of Clement Attlee
    Lord Home The Way the Wind Blows (1976) ch. 6
  62. Take away that pudding—it has no theme.
    Lord Home The Way the Wind Blows (1976) ch. 16
  63. bessie braddock: Winston, you're drunk.
    churchill: Bessie, you're ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober.
    J. L. Lane (ed.) Sayings of Churchill (1992)
  64. We are all worms. But I do believe that I am a glow-worm.
    Violet Bonham-Carter Winston Churchill as I Knew Him (1965)
  65. A remarkable example of modern art. It certainly combines force with candour.
    on the notorious 80th birthday portrait by Graham Sutherland, later destroyed by Lady Churchill
    Martin Gilbert Churchill: A Life (1991)
  66. A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.
  67. The geese who laid the golden eggs but never cackled.
    on the Enigma code-breakers at Bletchley Park, who never spoke of their work
    attributed; Ronald Lewin Ultra Goes to War (1978)
  68. Politics are almost as exciting as war and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics—many times.
  69. I know of no case where a man added to his dignity by standing on it.