The balloon has gone up

Posted by Jim on January 09, 2002

In Reply to: The balloon has gone up posted by James Briggs on January 09, 2002

: : Does anyone know the origin of the phrase, "The balloon has gone up" - meaning the signal to take action has been received? I have a feeling it's war-related but don't know!
: : Any help appreciated.
: : christine

: When the balloon goes up is a phrase used to imply impending trouble. This relates to the use of observation balloons in the first World War. The sight of such a balloon going up nearly always resulted in a barrage of shells following soon after. The expression was re-inforced during WWII when the hoisting of barrage balloons was part of the preparations for an air raid.

Observation balloons also used during the American Civil War for spotting (correcting) artillery barrages and detecting troop movement on the battlefield. Any use of the phrase prior to WW1?