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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman September 20, 2019

Churchill never equated diplomacy with telling people to ‘go to hell’

The Winston Churchill quote that never was.

The internet loves quoting the British statesman so much, but it’s just as easy to come across a bogus Churchill statement as a real one. 

He didn’t say that quote abou t having enemies means you’ve stood up for something, nor did he say the one about there being "no minority rights" when Muslims are the majority. 

And now we have yet another faux Churchill quote plaguing the interwebs. His alleged statement, shared on the website AZ Quotes, reads:

"Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

We couldn’t find any evidence in the multiple Churchill collections that he ever said or wrote this. In cases when the statement is attributed to Churchill, we found, it is almost always in unsourced Facebook posts and on meme generator websites. 

Likewise, Richard Langworth, senior fellow at the Churchill Project at Hillsdale College, includes the quotation in his running list of "All the ‘Quotes’ Winston Churchill Never Said." Langworth says there is no attribution for the quote. 

Quote Investigator, a website that tracks down quotations, also found "no substantive evidence that Winston Churchill employed this joke," even though Churchill suddenly began receiving credit for it in the 2000s. The earliest instance of the statement, the website said, came in 1937 and was anonymous. 

We rate this False. 

Our Sources

AZ Quotes, Winston Churchill, shared Aug. 18, 2019, Quotes, Accessed Sept. 20, 2019, search, Accessed Sept. 20, 2019

BBC America, 50 Sir Winston Churchill Quotes to Live By, 2015, All the "Quotes" Winston Churchill Never Said, Nov. 8, 2018

Quote Investigator, A Diplomat Is a Person Who Can Tell You To Go To Hell in Such a Tactful Way…, April 3, 2018, "A diplomat is a person who can tell you to go to hell so that you look forward to the trip", Dec. 21, 2010

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Churchill never equated diplomacy with telling people to ‘go to hell’

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