Posts Tagged ‘gung ho’


Today’s phrase is gung ho which means eager or overzealous enthusiasm. To my ears it sounds Asian in origin but actually this phrase was given to the English language by the American military.

Gung ho entered English during World War II. General Evans Carlson of the U.S. marines was impressed with the name and work ethic of the Chinese industrial co-operatives which had been co-founded by a New Zealander friend of his – kung hou – which translates as “work together in harmony”.

He explained the idea to his soldiers – one group of workers all dedicated to one objective. He held gung ho meetings to explain orders and overcome issues with little regard for traditional rank and hierarchy. The phrase caught on first in his own command and later spread throughout the marines and entered general parlance.

Gung ho gained a high profile when it was used as the title of a 1943 box-office hit film starring Randolph Scott about Carlson’s battalion’s innovative commando-style attack on Makin Island in the Pacific Ocean in 1942.

Until next week happy reading, writing, and gung ho wordfooling,

Grace (aka @Wordfoolery)


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