Word of the Day: Gung-Ho


A few minutes ago I checked the dictionary to see if the word gung-ho is hyphenated. (Yes, it is.) Reading a bit further, I was fascinated to find the following etymology:

Origin:
introduced as a training slogan in 1942 by U.S. Marine officer Evans F. Carlson (1896–1947) < Chinese g?ng hé, the abbreviated name of the Chinese Industrial Cooperative Society, taken by a literal translation as “work together”

Wikipedia adds a bit more detail:

The term was picked up by United States Marine Corps Major Evans Carlson from his New Zealand friend, Rewi Alley, one of the founders of the Chinese Industrial Cooperatives. Carlson explained in a 1943 interview: “I was trying to build up the same sort of working spirit I had seen in China where all the soldiers dedicated themselves to one idea and worked together to put that idea over. I told the boys about it again and again. I told them of the motto of the Chinese Cooperatives, Gung Ho. It means Work Together-Work in Harmony….”

Later Carlson used gung ho during his (unconventional) command of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion. From there, it spread throughout the U.S. Marine Corps (hence the association between the two), where it was used as an expression of spirit and into American society as a whole when the phrase became the title of a 1943 war film, Gung Ho!, about the 2nd Raider Battalion’s raid on Makin Island in 1942.

Maybe this origin story is common knowledge. I don’t know—though I’ve never seen it on Jeopardy! or in a crossword puzzle. In any case, it was new to me, so maybe it’s new to you too. It’s certainly interesting that our modern-day use of the word has approximately nothing to do with working together, which I suppose is just a linguistic casualty of war.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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