Posted by Masakim on December 01, 2001
In Reply to: Re: Gung ho posted by James Briggs on December 01, 2001
: : NZer Rewi Alley set up an industrial co-operative movement in rural China in the 30s and 40s called Gung Ho. Somehow US troops in the Pacific theatre during WWII started using Gung Ho. If, or how the link between the two, can be established I don't know yet. Regards, Slán nui.
: Here's what The Cassell Dictionary of Slang, 1999 has to say:
: gung-ho adj. [1940s+] (orig. US) often of soldiers or sportsmen, enthusiastic, usu. aggressively so. [Chinese keng ho, awe-inspiring (lit. 'more fiery')]. The term was initially popularized as the motto of the US Marine Corps Second Raider Battalion, introduced there in 1942 by Lieut. Col. Evans F.Carlson] .
: gung-ho adv. [1940s+] enthusiastically, vigorously. [GUNG-HO adj.]
When Marine Lieutenant Colonel Evans Fordyce Carlson went to China in 1942,
he was impressed by the ardent spirit of the Chinese Communists. Trying to use
their example to instill a sense of unity and purpose in his own troops, Carlson
told the men in the Second Raider Battalion that _gung ho_ was the motto of the
Chinese cooperatives and that it meant "work together."
The Lieutenant Colonel was mistaken. Although _kung_ may be translated as "work" and _ho_ as "together," the two do not combine in Chinese to form a phrase meaning "work together." In fact, _kung-ho_ is simply the shortened form of the name of the Chinese Industrial Cooperatives Society.
But the Marines didn't know that, and Carlson's men enthusiastically appropriated _gung ho_ to describe their own spirited group. Soon other marines also began to refer to the Second Raiders as _gung ho_, but they weren't calling them unified and hardworking. Instead, they were mocking Carlson's men as obnoxious, and _gung ho_ soon became a term of disparagement among marines.
From Merriam-Webster's Word for the Wise (November 10, 1997) at