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Straighten up, and fly right

Posted by RRC on November 02, 2005

In Reply to: Straighten up, and fly right posted by Smokey Stover on November 02, 2005

: : what is the origin and meaning, as it was first uttered, "straighten up, and fly right!" usually followed by an, "or else..."

: The game to beat is: World War II era. Quit screwing around, get your act together, and keep doing it right. (I think "fly right" suggested more a bird or insect than an airplane, but I could be wrong.) "Or else" is optional or gratuitous. Straight in those sunny days of yore meant morally or behaviorally upright, as in the Scout Oath. (A Scout is physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. Not necessarily heterosexual, as the Mormons would have it--a meaning of the word not known before the 1960s.) I won't swear the phrase was used in the military, but it was used everywhere else. SS

Nat King Cole's recording of his original song "Straighten Up and Fly Right" was released in 1943. The song itself isn't military as it's about a monkey and a buzzard supposedly based on a folk tale his father used to tell, but it could be influenced by the popularity of military lingo at the time. RRC