[Ads-l] Quote: Events, my dear boy, events

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 31 15:05:52 EDT 2020

Nigel Rees discussed the quotation in the subject line in his July
2020 newsletter. Harold Macmillan reportedly said it when replying to
a query about what had given him the most problems as U.K. Prime
Minister. The quotation is popular in the U.K. during turbulent times,
e.g., now. Here is a link to the QI article


The Yale Book of Quotations gives a 1992 citation for "Events, dear
boy, events". Rees also states that he heard the quotation attributed
to Macmillan around 1992.

I've pushed the citation date back to March 1984. Macmillan was Prime
Minister between 1957 and 1963, and he died in 1986 when he was 92
years old. So the 1984 citation occurs rather late which reduces its
probative value.

Rees notes that Macmillan may have used the alternative phrase
“opposition of events” as claimed by David Dilks who worked with him.
But this citation also occurred rather late. Winston Churchill did use
the phrase “opposition of events” in 1919.

Garson O'Toole

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list