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Old 05-23-2011, 06:47 AM
sab128 sab128 is offline
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 1
'You may have won the battle, but you haven't won the war'

Hey guys,

You hear this phrase in dozens of movies and TV shows, as well as in everyday use.
Does anyone actually know where it comes from? My hunch is that it probably comes from a movie as opposed to some heroic ancient general, but my mind is open.

So, any ideas?
Old 05-23-2011, 07:08 AM
Arkcon Arkcon is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,466
Someone said something similar, and it was recorded, by Plutarch, regarding a Pyrrhic victory, which happened around 200 BC, check the wikipedia reference 3.

If you're looking for a cool movie reference, you'll have to search deeper, but it is a pretty trite phrase -- people argue, get in over their head, and succeed only by wasting resources. The first person to say it was probably a Cro-magnon to a Neanderthal, banging a rock against a rock.
Old 05-23-2011, 07:08 AM
Michael of Lucan Michael of Lucan is offline
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Lucan, Dublin, Ireland
Posts: 447
There is a well-known saying to the effect that "the Romans lost battles: they never lost wars". There are other variants of this quotation.

I suspect that this is the reference you are looking for
Old 05-23-2011, 11:20 PM
rowrrbazzle rowrrbazzle is offline
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Chicago
Posts: 8,473
It just means that a war involves many battles, and after winning one battle there are going to be others before the war is won.
Old 05-24-2011, 07:19 AM
samjones samjones is offline
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 254
Originally Posted by rowrrbazzle View Post
It just means that a war involves many battles, and after winning one battle there are going to be others before the war is won.
Or "we won all the battles but lost the war" means that one side had military expertise and might but lacked the resources and/or support back home to carry on a sustained conflict.


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