My Favourite Churchill Quotes

Sometimes I lament the fact that I don’t have enough time to do all the reading I wish I could. Well, last week I came down with a terrible cold and, while that part sucked, on the bright side, it did give me plenty of time to read. I was barely capable of doing anything else. I seriously read like half a dozen books in four days. I even read the one that’s been sitting on my desk for a couple of months, waiting until I had enough time to get to it: The Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill by Dominique Enright.

Okay, I flipped through it. One doesn’t exactly read a book of quotations cover to cover in one sitting.

I don’t know why, but I imagined reading a book of quotations as a very grown up and fancy thing to do. Like, if you have time to read quotations, it means you’re mature and successful enough to have time for such leisure reading, and that you might flip through the book while sitting in an opulent art-filled study, maybe wearing a silk caftan or a smoking jacket or something. I was definitely not this classy, since I was surrounded by tea and Kleenex boxes and wearing my comfiest sweatpants. But, I did enjoy many of the quotes, for Churchill’s wit was wicked indeed. I curated some of my favourites here.

I bet he was a certain kind of perfectionist…

I always avoid prophesying beforehand, because it is much better policy to prophesy after the event has already taken place.

Same. It’s more fun being right.

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often

I think ‘No Comment’ is a splendid expression. I am using it again and again.”

But he could be self-deprecating…

On being advised his fly buttons were undone: “dead birds don’t fall out of their nests”

To a woman who declared that her baby looked just like him: “Madam, all babies look like me”


I always manage somehow to adjust to any new level of luxury without a whimper or complaint. It is one of my more winning traits

I think I have this trait too!

I’m going to make a long speech because I’ve not had the time to prepare a short one

Sometimes his wit could be rather cruel…

On Charles de Gaulle: “He looks like a female llama who has just been surprised in her bath”

That’s really specific.

This exchange is hilariously harsh:

Nancy Astor: If I were your wife, I would put poison in your coffee

Churchill: Nancy, if I were your husband, I would drink it

But he could be pretty nice as well…

My most brilliant achievement was to persuade my wife to marry me

And wise, too…

A single glass of champagne imparts a feeling of exhilaration. The nerves are braced, the imagination is agreeably stirred, the wits become more nimble. A bottle produces the contrary effect.

Truer words were never spoken.

A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject

There are a terrible lot of lies going around the world, and the worst of it is half of them are true

He had some good advice…

Never stand so high upon a principle that you cannot lower it to suit the circumstances

Circumstances are indeed complex things.

You will never get to the end of the journey if you stop to shy a stone at every dog that barks

Ask a silly question, get a silly answer…

On being asked if Niagara Falls looked the same as when he first saw them: “Well, the principle seems the same. The water still keeps falling over.”

Plus, he named the henhouse he built for his chickens “Chickenham Palace.” I approve.

I think I have a newfound love of reading quotations. Who else has some excellent words to share? What are you favourite quotations? Let’s be quotes snobs!

We’ll be better than this though


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