The Green Zone and Related Terms

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Mar 31 15:42:46 UTC 2006

The most-recent rifle model that I had occasion to deal with was the
M-14. With this model and the ones that preceded it, "locked" meant
that the safety was on, thereby preventing the rifle from being fired.
Hence, strictly speaking, a "locked-and-loaded" rifle was *not*
ready to be fired.


On 3/31/06, Baker, John <JMB at> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Baker, John" <JMB at STRADLEY.COM>
> Subject:      The Green Zone and Related Terms
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>         The 4/6/2006 issue of The New York Review of Books includes a
> brief discussion, on page 65, of Baghdad's Green Zone and some related
> terms:
>         <<Several people told me that the Green Zone's name was derived
> from military parlance:  when a soldier clears the chamber of his M-16,
> he is said to have his weapon "on green," while "red" means that a rifle
> is "locked and loaded" and ready to fire.  Hence, this relatively safe
> zone occupied by American "liberators" came to be known as the Green
> Zone, while everything else outside, where weapons were ubiquitous and
> gunfire was almost incessant, came to be known as the Red Zone.
>         When one first lands "inside the wire," as the world inside the
> Green Zone is known, one has the feeling of having gained access to some
> large resort in which soldiers have been turned into staff.>>
>         The Review of Books, in spite of its intellectual credentials,
> historically has not been a reliable guide to etymology.  (For example,
> "jazz" does not derive from the jasmine perfume worn by prostitutes.)
> Can some of our members, more knowledgeable than I about the military,
> confirm or rebut this information?
> John Baker
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