Stick to your guns


What’s the meaning of the phrase ‘Stick to your guns’?

This phrase is an instruction to continue with your plan even if others say you’re wrong.

What’s the origin of the phrase ‘Stick to your guns’?

It is widely believed that the phrase “stick to your guns” is a military reference, which can be traced back to the 17th and 18th centuries, a time when weapons were fast becoming a weapon of choice. More specifically, the phrase is first seen in the ‘Life of Samuel Johnson’ by James Bobswell (1740-95).

It is believed to originate as a military command to sailors on gunned military boats who were posted at the boat’s guns, to instruct the men to remain at their posts, even when the boat is under attack, and fear has kicked in, or even if the boat is captured. This instruction aimed to prevent retreat of the troops, and ensure the job posts and the guns were defended to the end, including when they are needed the most.

What are some notable uses of the phrase ‘Stick to your guns’?

In more modern times, the meaning of the phrase has significantly broadened. The phrase can be used to encourage someone to stick with their sentiments and convictions, even when they start to wonder if they are still on the right course of action. No matter the opposition, they should carry on as they set out to do.

The phrase has been used in literature, quoted by Charles Dickens in “Nicholas Nickleby (1838 – 1839). It has also been used by prominent politicians Margaret Thatcher, and Ronald Regan, and in the films “High Noon” (1952), “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” (1977), and “Braveheart” (1995), and in several popular song lyrics in different genres.

Cari Mayhew - Author at Phrase Finder

Cari Mayhew

Lifelong learner, phrase fanatic, and lover of literature across multiple genres. Cari Mayhew has a passion for expression, and a keen curiosity for how phrases begin and how their use transforms over time. She is often found looking for the ideal idiom to convey her thoughts and musings.