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Top 25 Winston Churchill Quotes

Winston Churchill was not just a great politician, he was also a great orator. Though he is now dead, his legacy lives on in the many humorous and insightful quotes he left behind. Here is a selection of just 25.

Quotes 1 – 5

Churchill

1. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

2. There is no such thing as a good tax.

3. Some see private enterprise as a predatory target to be shot, others as a cow to be milked, but few are those who see it as a sturdy horse pulling the wagon.

4. The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

5. We contend that for a nation to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.

Quotes 6 – 10

 42301054 Churchill V Sign 416

6. An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile—hoping it will eat him last.

7. The problems of victory are more agreeable than the problems of defeat, but they are no less difficult.

8. From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I shall not put.

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

10. Nancy Astor: “Sir, if you were my husband, I would give you poison.”
Churchill: “If I were your husband I would take it.”

Quotes 11 – 15

Churchill-1

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

12. Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened.

13. If you are going to go through hell, keep going.

14. It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations.

15. You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.

Quotes 16 – 20

G6857 U3848 Sir Winston Churchill

16. If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law.

17. You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else.

18. History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.

19. The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.

20. I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter.

Quotes 21 – 25

Churchillgreen

21. The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.

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

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

24. Politics is 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.

25. Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.

Listverse Staff

Listverse is a place for explorers. Together we seek out the most fascinating and rare gems of human knowledge. Three or more fact-packed lists daily.

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  • bootlicker

    Patrask — you sure that's not Groucho Marx :-) Of course Groucho may have stolen it, he often stole from Twain.

    Anyone notice there are no great orators anymore? This list and the Oscar Wilde list remind me of that. I think the last really quotable person was JFK (or his speechwriters).

    • policial_proxy

      Never heard of Reagan?

  • Gravy

    OH SNAP!! First Comment!!

    WOW Churchy, why the mean look?!?

  • Gravy: I think it was naturally occurring :)

  • heavybison

    I think someone mentioned something about a cigar being snatched away by the photographer or somethin’ :-)

  • justin

    This man was awesome. If only we had people like that in power now days. The world would be a far better place

  • JMurf

    Gallipoli…..

    • bloomers

      You say that as if "say no more" if so you are a moron. Read and when you think you know something keep reading. cock.

  • Patrask

    Forgot this one. Not an exact quote, but I’m not in the mood to search for it. :-)

    Unknown: You, sir, are drunk.
    Church: Yes, madam, I am. But in the morning I will be sober, and you will still be ugly.

  • aplspud

    Read about debate on #8 here
    http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/churchill.html
    The link to the Google Groups thread with Ben Zimmer’s research is too cumbersome to post.

    I love #17, btw :)

  • Patrask: that is on one of the other lists on the site :)

    aplspud: he was a true master – I particularly love the “preposition” issue.

  • Shabab

    Fantastic stuff…..Very very hard to believe that this guy was a polititian given all the supreme dumbc*nts we have these days….

  • mklong

    they just dont make em like they use to

  • 10. Nancy Astor: “Sir, if you were my husband, I would give you poison.”
    Churchill: “If I were your husband I would take it.”

    BEST QUOTE EVER!

    • lol

      Yeah, one time when Churchill was derlivering a speech, he was drunk.
      Nancy said ''Your drunk Winston"
      Churchill replied "And your dog ugly, at least i'll be sober in the morning.

  • Clovis: the actual text of the one you put in comment 20 is:

    Lady Nancy Astor (to Churchill): “Sir, you’re drunk!”
    Churchill: “Yes, Madam, I am. But in the morning, I will be sober and you will still be ugly.”

  • Choocher

    Check out pic 3, folks, then pic 2. Anyone thinking what I’m thinking? James Gandolfini is the perfect choice for a Churchill biopic!
    “Oh. Dese ah de times dat try men’s souls.”
    “Weh gunnah fight de Joimans in de ehh, on de ground, at de Bing, all ovuh Nohth Joisey. Well nevuh surrenduh owah gahbeegoo!”
    We’re already talking with Edie Falco to play Queen Elizabeth.

  • Diogenes

    i dont know, maybe its my american dumbness of the english language, but these churchhill quotes dont quite cut it. its no throw of mud against the list producer, its more the equalized field of thought that puts out a team of writers for any public figure which has a soapbox to stand on in this time. There are a few here that may stick out past our deaths and deaths to come but It’s kinda hard to go with greatess here.
    I kinda wish all humans had recorded moments of verbalized grand funk that was loged in ink within the oficial archives…wherever that may be.

  • Choocher

    Diogenes, you dog, your search for an honest man is over. It is indeed your ‘american dumbness’. its no throw of mud against you, you may still achieve greatess, if your verbalized grand funk becomes loged in with a tad more coherency.

  • Diogenes

    yeh? wha? Tis the hour of the bell that howls from the bowls and within this darkness the wringing twirl of the misquito thats flipping it’s glitter apon the very knob that I worry so.

  • Bootlicker: I am, in fact, a great orator. The only problem is that I am not famous enough to talk to anyone worth listening. ;-)

    …just kidding. =p
    I love #9. Overall though, there’s just so much wisdom in these quotes. I love reading quotations. I somehow feel that if I read enough of them, I will eventually become as elegant and wise as those who spoke them originally. (Being elegant and wise is my goal in life.)

  • bootlicker

    Kelsi: I’m a great orator as well. Unfortunately, my dog, Sadie, is the only witness to my wisdom :-)

    A list of great Mark Twain quotes would be cool. My favorite: “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”
    – Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar

    or

    Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.
    – Mark Twain, a Biography

  • bootlicker: good idea – I will not down Mark Twain for another list of quotes.

    kelsi: I feel the same way – unfortunately it hasn’t seemed to have rubbed off yet :(

  • clovis sangral

    Woman on Street: Sir, you are drunk; very, very drunk.
    Winston Churchill: Madame, you are ugly; very, very ugly.
    I shall be sober in the morning.

  • clovis sangral

    A fanatic is a person who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.
    – Winston Churchill

  • clovis: oh – also – the second quote you put in is perfect for some of the comments we have had on other lists :)

  • smac

    I especially like #15 and #20. He seemed to know where his place in history was – as well as how much of an ass he could be.

  • clovis sangral

    Sieg Heil!… oops… wrong list :P

  • Late O’Day

    “I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play, bring a friend… if you have one.”
    — George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

    “Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second… if there is one.”
    — Winston Churchill, in response

  • James Frazer

    He was a great war-time leader, but he was terrible during peacetime. His charisma made him a leader during war, but he couldn’t handle the boring everyday work usually associated with a PM, which was partly why he was ousted from office after the war (and he was also in poor health)

  • Harbottle

    I think the correct wording is:

    Nancy Astor: “Winston, if I were your wife I would put poison in your coffee.”

    Winston Churchill: “Nancy, if I were your husband I would drink it.”

  • bobfoot

    “Never pass up the chance to sit down or go to the bathroom.”

  • DiLeo

    i am related to churchill

  • You forgot his greatest quote of all:

    “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, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

  • Jim

    Asked what he did for exercise, Churchill replied,”Whenever I feel the urge to exercise, I sit down and wait until the urge passes.”

  • Hamelaar

    Love this one as well:

    “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter”

  • Hannah Martens

    If the British left, "India will fall back quite rapidly through the centuries into the barbarism and privations of the Middle Ages".

    An entry of September 1942 in the Amery diaries reads: "During my talk with Winston he burst out with: `I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion'." A year later, when the question of grain being sent to the victims of the Bengal famine came up in a Cabinet meeting, Churchill intervened with a "flourish on Indians breeding like rabbits and being paid a million a day by us for doing nothing by us about the war."

    • Kishalaya Chakraborty

      yes,that ws quite truly quoted by the great orator..but unfortunately,,he seemed to be quite ignorant of the fact that our forefathers were out in the world searching for the truth of life and exploring science of creation,,wen Mr.churchills ancestors wer roaming in their woods,half naked,,,clad in leaves,,not too busy enough too keep them from thinking against having a warm night bed companionship with thir female counterparts..we indians have always humbly accepted our guests,,although some GUESTS had trespassed(like u kno..)..although it took a bit too long to oust the hypocritic british empire from our country,,but nonetheless the feeling of kickin their butt was not too bad…leave it….. Today wer INDIA stands as a world power is quite a thing of envy for our white counterparts,,overall,today iam having a burning desire to listen to wat he had to say about INDIAs position in the world….hope he would not have disappointed me by accepting the truth

  • Hannah Martens

    I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. We have definitely adopted the position at the Peace Conference of arguing in favour of the retention of gas as a permanent method of warfare. It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas.

    I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected.

    –Winston S. Churchill: departmental minute (Churchill papers: 16/16) 12 May 1919 War Office

  • Hannah Martens

    Churchill’s attitude toward the Fascist dictators was ambiguous. In 1931 he warned against the League of Nations opposing the Japanese in Manchuria “I hope we shall try in England to understand the position of Japan an ancient state…On the one side they have the dark menace of Soviet Russia. On the other the chaos of China four or five provinces of which are being tortured under Communist rule”.

  • Hannah Martens

    In 1937 in his book “Great Contemporaries”, Churchill wrote: “If our country were defeated, I hope we should find a champion as admirable (as Hitler) to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations”. Speaking in the House of Commons, 1937 he said “I will not pretend that, if I had to choose between communism and Nazism, I would choose communism”. In the same work, Churchill expressed a hope that despite Hitler’s apparent dictatorial tendencies, he would use his power to rebuild Germany into a worthy member of the world community. “One may dislike Hitler’s system and yet admire his patriotic achievements. If our country were defeated, I hope we should find a champion as admirable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations” – From ‘Great Contemporaries’, 1937.

  • Hannah Martens

    Not all were impressed by his oratory. Robert Menzies, who was the Prime Minister of Australia, said during World War II of Churchill: “His real tyrant is the glittering phrase so attractive to his mind that awkward facts have to give way.” Another associate wrote: “He is . . . the slave of the words which his mind forms about ideas. . . . And he can convince himself of almost every truth if it is once allowed thus to start on its wild career through his rhetorical machinery.”

  • Hannah Martens

    “The power of the Executive to cast a man in prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government, whether Nazi or Communist.”
    -Winston Churchill

  • T

    I think this was Churchill:

    “Democracy is the worst form of government…except for all the others.”

  • warningdontreadthis

    ok where is
    “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
    ?

  • Don Bee

    I thought the quote re: drun…ugly was made by the well known fellow who was said to abhor children and was often caricaturized with a walking cane, top hat, and red nose. ?????

  • dave

    who knows the quote'” I would give the devil himself at least a favorable reference in the house of commons….. hitler

  • steve

    the best churchill speach has to be;

    winston churchill,,
    ”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,
    but we shall never surrender !!”

  • gabyvhenteciete

    Great quotes from such a great man! I wish we have a statesman like Winston Churchill nowadays.

    Still the best quote from Churchill would be this:

    “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.”

    This quote never fails to bring tears in my eyes. And I’m not even English! Such powerful oratory!

  • Yun

    @Hannah: Saying you’d take Fascism over Communism is not an endorsement of Fascism. It’s kinda like saying you’d rather eat pig crap than dog crap.

  • Caz

    they missed another great one, ‘ the aim is not to die for your country, but make the other bastard die for his! :P

    and the most famous one of all ahhhhhh !

  • mcswiggle

    Another smart observation he made- “I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.” Clever man.

  • Anusface

    Is it just me or was this guy a real ayuss?

  • Bob

    Regarding the first photo: “According to legend Yousuf Karsh accomplished this expression by taking away Winston’s cigar and even now some 60 years on the glowering expression comes thundering through the portrait – I have a large scale copy of this which makes this even more apparent and the image is mesmerising.”

    “One of Churchill’s trademarks was his cigar. When Karsh posed Churchill, he allowed Churchill to hold his cigar. Karsh, in his informal style, walked up to Churchill supposedly to get a light level. He held in his hand the remote for his camera.

    Standing in front of Churchill, Karsh casually pulled the cigar from the lips of Churchill and walked back toward his camera. As he walked he clicked his remote and captured the “cross and indignant” look on Churchill’s face.

    Compare the photograph on the left to any other shot of Churchill and you will agree that Karsh was a master psychologist!”

  • Samfern

    I like this one…

    Don’t worry about avoiding temptation as you grow older, it will avoid you.
    — Winston Churchill

  • clarry

    the great man made us all very proud of him,and ensured we were not german

  • pat

    Bettie Boothroyd said to Winston “You are drunk” he replied”and you are fat,and I will be sober in the morning”

  • andrew

    I think Mr. churchill was honest…, even when he was being bad…that’s a trait of a true gentleman for me.

  • Schwarfle

    Where are all the racist quotes? He was full of them. Thought, among other things, that dropping gas-bombs on Kurds would be a good idea.

  • Schwarfle

    Oh, hey thanks, Hannah Martens. That was what I was talking about. And lest we forget: The bombing of Dresden was his idea too, killing 120.000 mostly women and children. Nice going!

  • democraticsoccomism

    the world was built by men who know no social fears-for good or bad

    churchill defines these men, both before him and after-a true legend in modern times, regardless of your political views you can never deny the virtue of his uncompromising personality

    most men would stutter and stamer in the presense of a man so self assured and quick of toungue-

  • jackdory

    Favoutite quote or urban myth
    Winston to women at party ” Would you sleep with me for $1 000 000 ?”
    Women “Why Winston I would indeed.”
    Winston ” Would you sleep with me for $10 ?”
    Women ” What kind of women do you take me for?”
    Winston ” We have already ascertained what kind of women you are now we are mearly deciding on a price .”

  • lilhomie

    i love these quotes they are amazing

  • chapman

    10. Nancy Astor: “Sir, if you were my husband, I would give you poison.”
    Churchill: “If I were your husband I would take it.”

    Love this quote, just shows he means what he says :P.

  • Power Bulge

    The priceless one:
    Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us now. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’
    18th June 1940

  • Kumie

    Nice stuff. Men no longer speak like this.

  • Marble

    Love the quotes! But you missed one of my favourites: “We are all worms. But I do believe that I am a glow worm”.

  • Mary

    Churchill is known for his witty quotes, so the fact that he was a hateful bigoted alcoholic gets swept over. No way should this man be glorified. Do some research. He was an admirer of Mussolini. He advocated the idea of euthanizing and sterilizing the disabled. Sure, he was a successful politician, but if you have read Machiavelli's 'The Prince' then you already know the tools required for that job.

    I have yet to see anyone mention the six to seven MILLION Indians who were intentionally caused to starve to death, thanks to the witty Churchill. He had knowledge of the Pearl Harbor bombings, but chose not to share it the U.S. The list goes on. The image we get of Churchill is a glorified one.

    "I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion."- Churchill

    • joe

      I couldn’t agree more!!

  • Stupid Mary

    Britain had a war to deal with do you think that he could tend for one fourth of the worlds population and win a war? You ought to be grateful because without him there would be no Indians,Jews or blacks.He has every right to be remembered in history!

    • joe

      Winston Churchill killed millions of people. So yeah, obviously he did have the time and energy to “tend” to them. And no, I’m not grateful to him, nor do I have any reason to be. The world is much too big for any one man to control it. Hitler would have gotten no further than europe with or without Churchill. He should be remembered in history, though, I agree with you on that, but he should be remembered as the genocidal racist he was. In all reality, he wasn’t much better than Hitler himself.

      Get informed.

  • Zardoz3006

    The quote previously attributed to Nancy Astor and (strangely) Bettie Boothroyd, who would have been a child at the time, was in fact a conversation between Bessie Braddock MP and Winston – you know the Drunk, Ugly exchange

  • Zardoz3006

    Mary #65.

    No one is saying Winston Churchill was perfect. Far from it, and by his own admission he would agree with you that he wasn’t. He grew up in the late Victorian era, and indeed shares some of the commonly held views of the time which are abhorrent to us today.

    The fact that our views are so different today and that our democracies share different commonly held beliefs, is in fact a testament to free speech and free exchange of ideas and thought.

    Your ability to write what you like on this blog, or any other is attributable to Winston Churchill who saved this country when we stood alone against the greatest army the world has ever known.

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing. During the thirties Hitler was widely admired for his reconstruction of Germany, and as an orator. We now know him to be the greatest monster the world has ever known.

    It is certainly easy to criticize Winston for all his faults and foibles. I believe that despite these he was the greatest war leader we have ever had.

    If the Nazis had won, we certainly wouldn’t be exchanging our views in this way would we Mary?

  • Jezzer

    Maggie was great,howeverWinston
    was just THE greatest.
    He used his own words, not this of some
    speechwriter.

  • Tomdav

    Couldn’t have put it better myself zardoz, unfortunately some people
    can’t understand circumstances and how times have changed, and only have
    the ability to copy and paste…

  • mccains

    “The farther backward you look, the farther forward you are likely to see”, has made a lasting impression on me as I begin my own autobiography. May we all see the impact on our own families or lack there of, depending on how far back we are willing go. We must revisit our own past to actually see where we want or need our future to go. Thanks for the insight Winston!

  • magnumto

    “Never was so much owed by so many to so few”, in reference to the RAF after the Battle of Britain.

    One of my favorite Churchill-isms.

  • manu

    @Zardoz3006…so hitler is monster when he killed 5 million jews but winston is hero for killing 7 million indians in bengal by starvation and hating them..nice going you p****..and btw russians won the ww2 all you people brainwashed by anglo-saxon propoganda…check when you guys landed on normandy and where russians were at that time…and if you have some brainscells left do the maths

  • princezz03

    Funniest quotes ever =)

  • killamajojo107

    Winston Churchill is the biggest badass to have walked this earth

  • djC

    Socialism isn't necessarily evil Chruchill.

  • Canuck

    “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.”

    But, Canada and Scandinavia’s democratic evolution of socialism has shown the world how an active government can regulate and provide the highest possible quality of life for it’s citizens. Churchill was no doubt a great leader. But his vision and dismissive opinion of the Commonwealth and other nations does not translate well with time. His ego held him from attaining greatness for a longer period of time. But, thank the atheistic lord he replaced Chamberlain when he did, or we all would be speaking German.

  • John

    It did’nt take long for the “starved for attention” to provide their lessons on history. The only thing Hitler said that was correct was “This war will determine the world order for the next 1000 years”.
    Full of rage, some will attempt to destroy any person in history who had the misfortue of making decisions. I hope you will not count on your medication to ease your suffering, and quiet the voices. Reason will save you.
    Their is always some truth to what they are saying, and that is unfortunate. Historical context is his savior. After all, he was only saving the world. When have you had a chance to get in your time-machine and put yourself in his shoes? In between hot pockets your mom brings to you, while clicking copy,paste?? Trying to avoid the smell of urine and failure all around.

    ” “We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out”

    Just one of his examples showing his command of reasonable thinking.

  • parveen gahlot

    move on and see all

  • Yousuf

    YOUSUF KARSH

  • Sahil

    Churchill – My hero!

  • joe

    He also said, “I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.” He was a great orator alright, he also gassed the Kurds.

    People need to get informed before they start to idolize a man.

  • jasjot

    nice quotations……..

  • kanishk

    At first place being an Indian , i would have hated what Churchil said but it was true. Today Indians are ruled by criminals, this country was bound to be ruled , the only difference is by whom. Nothing can improve in this country. Scams , poverty, pollution just to name a few. Millions of children don’t get to eat at night…..what else to say……tons to write about this country’s problem.

  • j grant

    I was hoping to see that on the list.

  • Gregg

    I have a cherry box with holes for the state quarters. It is very nice looking, but the coins do not stay in, they fall forward and slide down the glass. I do not want to devalue the coins..

  • Reblogged this on The Storyteller: Stories Under The Skies Of Dhaka and commented:
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  • Starfire

    He is a true and a SMART man.he deserves to be like this

  • Leigh

    If you are not a democrat at age 20,you don’t have a heart.
    If you are not republican by age 40, you don’t have a brain!!!!
    W. Churchill i think. tru-dat 4 shurrrr.

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