A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma

Everyone has heard that right? It’s a pretty popular phrase bandied about by many different people about many different subjects. Us geeks love to use that phrase. But do you know where it actually comes from?

It is a quote from one of history’s all-time most quotable -Winston Churchill. The full quote is “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”

Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speech, in fact one of America’s most famous speeches, the Gettysburg Address, was only ten sentences long. One of those sentences is mostly comprised of the words “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here…”

He was wrong. They remember pretty well. And Winston’s Churchill’s quote, although not as well remembered, has been much used and re-used. Here are a few examples at tvtropes.org.

If you just peeked there, you found over 30 examples. I think it is amazing that seemingly minor things people say can live on forever. I think words of caution are called for.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” –George Santayana

Learn from these people, watch what you say, especially in this day and age when everyone records everything.


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