More “Quotations” Churchill Never Said

by Richard Langworth on 19 June 2009

A web­site named “IL Con­ser­v­a­tive” posted in June 2009 eight Churchill “quo­ta­tions,” six of which he never said. These quo­ta­tions are all over the Inter­net, none of them attrib­uted, and just seem to mul­ti­ply and get passed on, like the com­mon cold.

The pur­pose of my “Red Her­rings” appen­dix of eighty incor­rect quo­ta­tions in Churchill by Him­self is to coun­ter­act the raft of mis­in­for­ma­tion con­veyed, largely through the web, but it’s like the Dutch boy stick­ing his hand in the dyke.

Any­way, and for the record, all of these are NOT CHURCHILL (and I will not dig­nify them with quotemarks):

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

2. A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.

3. How­ever beau­ti­ful the strat­egy, you should occa­sion­ally look at the results.

4. If you’re going through hell, keep going.

5. Suc­cess is not final, fail­ure is not fatal: it is the courage to con­tinue that counts.

6. A pris­oner of war is a man who tries to kill you and fails, and then asks you not to kill him. (This one is close, but no cigar. What Churchill did say—House of Com­mons, 1 July 1952—was:  “What is a pris­oner of war? He is a man who has tried to kill you and, hav­ing failed to kill you, asks you not to kill him.”)

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Langworth September 27, 2015 at 11:12

I’m sorry but I don’t. It’s been around many years and Googling it produces numerous sites crediting it to Churchill, but with no citations.

Kate Bowles September 26, 2015 at 17:43

Do you have any leads on the source of the strategy quote? When did it start to attach itself to Churchill?

Richard Langworth July 11, 2015 at 08:54

More or less, but it’s a garbled and truncated version of two separate comments. I’ve made this the subject of a separate post:

Mack Salamasond July 10, 2015 at 14:22

This is now going around the web attributed to Churchill. Is it accurate? “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

Richard M. Langworth October 26, 2014 at 07:27

He did NOT say, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” No attribution whatsoever. It’s “Churchilllian (or Yogi Berra) drift:

Jack b October 21, 2014 at 14:57

He did say “If you’re going through hell, keep going” September 6, 2014 at 20:44

It’s very easy to find out any matter on web as compared to textbooks, as
I found this paragraph at this website.

Richard M. Langworth September 28, 2012 at 07:39

Sorry, I don’t, nor does my colleague Ralph Keyes (“The Quote Verifier”). Like many “red herrings,” it is all over the web ascribed to Churchill–and not one of those appearances offers a source (speech, book or whatever). If he said it, I have yet to see attribution.

He did say some amusing things about optimists and pessimists, which I will post today:

Julie September 27, 2012 at 13:51

Do you know who did say “A pes­simist sees the dif­fi­culty in every oppor­tu­nity; an opti­mist sees the oppor­tu­nity in every difficulty”? I can’t find it anywhere as everyone attributes it to Churchill.

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