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Son of a gun (orig. posted June 2002)

Posted by (Various posters) on August 10, 2002

Posted by James Briggs on June 23, 2002

In Reply to: "son of a gun" alternate meaning/origin posted by Jakob Aggernæs on June 23, 2002

: Until reading you definition I had "son of a gun" defined as referring to the bastard children born whenever an army had passed throug the area.
: And originated in America, in the war of liberation or possibly the civil war.
: You origin clearly relate to the british nawy.

: Is the dictionary slanted toward british usage or is it just that the navy-origin I earlier?

: best JakobA

Here's what I found out about the saying. It certainly seems maritime and a couple of centuries old.
'Son of a gun' is now an expression of light hearted familiarity, but it was not always so. In the past it was one of contempt and derision derived from the fact that it described a special type of illegitimate child. In the old days civilian women were allowed to live on naval ships; many became pregnant and had their child on board, usually near the midship gun behind a canvas screen. If the father was unknown, then the child was recorded in the ship's log as A son of a Gun.