25 Winston Churchill Quotes That Will Inspire You — And 6 That Will Shock You

Published May 10, 2016
Updated November 8, 2023

These Winston Churchill quotes will dazzle you with their wit and shock you with their hate. You only thought you knew this man.

“If you have an important point to make,” Winston Churchill once said, “don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver.”

Well, Churchill had the rare ability to do both, delivering everything from historic pronouncements to pithy maxims with both pile driver strength and playful wit.

While serving as prime minister and leading Britain through World War II, Churchill exercised those verbal gifts like few other statesmen in history, inspiring a nation and the world beyond its borders for decades to come.

At the same time, his heroic legacy and cuddly bowler-and-bowtie image conceal a dark side that informs some of his harshest words.

You’ll find both — the light side and the dark — in the fascinating, era-defining, and ultimately surprising collection of Winston Churchill quotes below:

Inspiring Winston Churchill Quotes
"What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?"

Speech at Kinnaird Hall, Dundee, Scotland, October 10, 1908.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Seated With Cigar
"Sure I am of this, that you have only to endure to conquer. You have only to persevere to save yourselves, and to save all those who rely upon you. You have only to go right on, and at the end of the road, be it short or long, victory and honor will be found."

Speaking at the Guildhall (London's histotic town hall) after the first British naval victory of World War I, September 4, 1914.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Winston Churchill Quotes
"It is better to be making the news than taking it; to be an actor rather than a critic."

From The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War, Churchill's 1898 account of a British military campaign in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Photo: OFF/AFP/Getty Images

Winston Churchill Quotes Ladies
"Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and the glory of the climb."

In "Painting as a Pastime," published in the Strand Magazine in December 1921 and Jnuary 1922.

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Waving To Crowd
"To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often."

Published in His Complete Speeches, 1974.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Young Winston Churchill In Military Uniform
"You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true, and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her."

From Churchill's partial autobiography My Early Life.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Hat Removed
"The statesman who yields to war fever must realise that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events."

From My Early Life.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Winston Churchill Quotes On Never Giving Up
"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 given at London's Harrow School for boys, October 29, 1941.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Sitting On Bench
"Of course, when you are winning a war almost everything that happens can be claimed to be right and wise."

From Closing The Ring, the fifth of the six volumes making up Churchill's history of World War II, The Second World War.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Standing In Suit
"I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter."

Quoted in The New York Times Magazine, November 1, 1964.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Young Man With Bowtie
"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile — hoping it will eat him last."

Reader's Digest, 1954.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

World Leaders
"War is mainly a catalogue of blunders."

From The Second World War, Volume III : The Grand Alliance (1950)

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Portrait Painted
"Too often the strong, silent man is silent only because he does not know what to say, and is reputed strong only because he has remained silent."

From Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches (1974)

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Winston Churchill Smoking A Cigar
“It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.”

From a speech in the House of Commons, February 27, 1945.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Boy Leaning On Chair
"Of this I am quite sure, that if we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future."

Speech in the House of Commons, June 18, 1940.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Wearing Army Helmet
“Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it has been said, it is the quality which guarantees all others.”

From Great Contemporaries, Churchill's 1937 essay collection about 25 important leaders, artists, and more.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

With Stalin And Roosevelt
“The whole history of the world is summed up in the fact that when nations are strong they are not always just, and when they wish to be just, they are often no longer strong.”

March 26, 1936.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Young Dressed In Suit
“All the greatest things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom; justice; honour; duty; mercy; hope.”

Albert Hall, London, May 14, 1947.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Aiming Rifle
"Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result."

From The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Bowler Hat Bow Tie
“In the course of my life I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.”

Quoted by British Cabinet Secretary Norman Brook in Action This Day: Working With Churchill.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

On Boat With Soldiers
“I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”

Spoken during a tour of Churchill's Chartwell Farm, 1946; remembered by Christopher Soames, Churchill's son-in-law.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Winston Churchill Walking On The Beach
"We are all worms. But I do believe I am a glow-worm."

Quoted by politician and close friend Violet Bonham-Carter in Winston Churchill As I Knew Him (1965).

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Winston Churchill Quotes On Politics And War
"Politics are almost as exciting as war, and – quite as dangerous … [I]n war, you can only be killed once. But in politics many times."

In conversation with journalist and author Harold Begbie, later published in 1906.

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Victory Sign
"[The] truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is."

Speech in the House of Commons, May 17, 1916.

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Standing With Companion
"For my own part I have always felt that a politician is to be judged by the animosities which he excites among his opponents. I have always set myself not merely to relish but to deserve thoroughly their censure."

At an Institute of Journalists dinner in London on November 17, 1906.

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Firing Gun
"Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die; but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world."

From The River War (1899), Churchill's account of the Mahdist War in the Sudan.

Photo: STF/AFP/GettyImages

In Crowd Of Women
"I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes."

Statement as president of the Air Council (government body managing the Royal Air Force), 1919.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

World Leaders Assembled
"’Keep England White’ is a good slogan.”

Recorded by British Minister of Defence Harold Macmillan on January 20, 1955.

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Winston Churchill Quotes On Indians
"I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion."

In conversation with Leo Amery, Britain's Secretary of State for India, 1942.

Photo: CPT TANNER - No 2 Army Film and AFP/Getty Images

Bow Tie Suit
“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.”

To the Peel Commission, a British panel investigating the causes of unrest in Palestine, 1937.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Quotes From Winston Churchill
"The Aryan stock is bound to triumph."

Speech and interview at the University of Michigan, 1902.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Next, see Winston Churchill's priceless face on the day of the German surrender, then read some choice words from Churchill and more in this collection of the best insults in history. Finally, have a look at 40 Bruce Lee quotes that will touch your heart and soul.

John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.
Citation copied
Cite This Article
Kuroski, John. "25 Winston Churchill Quotes That Will Inspire You — And 6 That Will Shock You." AllThatsInteresting.com, May 10, 2016, https://allthatsinteresting.com/winston-churchill-quotes. Accessed May 21, 2024.