Churchillian Drift

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Churchillian Drift is the term, coined by British Writer Nigel Rees, which describes the widespread misattribution of quotes by obscure figures to more famous figures, usually of their time period.[1] The term connotes the particular egregiousness of misattributions to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who, in addition to winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953, was widely regarded as a master of oratory, and coined many brilliant quotes himself.

Websites, as well as word of mouth, are responsible for repeating these misattributions, with the result that they are commonly believed. US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, for example, has erroneously[2] credited Churchill for the saying, "Americans will always do the right thing-- after exhausting all the alternatives."[3]


  1. ^ Rees, Nigel (2009-08-13). "Policing Word Abuse". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-01-06. 
  2. ^ "Winston Churchill - Wikiquote". Retrieved 2017-01-06. 
  3. ^ "A Churchill 'Quote' That U.S. Politicians Will Never Surrender". Retrieved 2017-01-06.