"Shape up or ship out"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 10 17:55:00 UTC 2009

How'd I miss that?

It seems to me that while WWII was still on, drill sergeants would have been
unlikely to say "shape up or ship out" because "shipping out," it also seems
to me,  implied
being sent overseas to an unknown fate after training rather than
being unwillingly transferred elsewhere for ineptitude. After the war,
"shipping out" was more likely to imply removal.

OTOH, "shape up or ship out" would have been quite a threat to military
people in the States or other safe areas, who had completed training and had
pretty soft jobs.


On Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 12:35 PM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "Shape up or ship out"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Quoting Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>:
> > Earlier still:
> >
> > 1951 _Binghamton (N.Y.) Press_  (Nov 24) 6: President Truman from time to
> > time adds another name to the long list of those in his administration
> > scorched by scandal. He possibly has told others to shape up or ship out.
> >
> > 1953 _Syracuse Post Standard_ (April 7) 6 (ad): Top kicks are neither
> > swearing off - nor off swearing. Read "SHAPE UP OR SHIP OUT!" ...in
> > Collier's, on sale now.
> >
> > I don't have access to Collier's, but it was such a popular mag that the
> > article probably had a lot to do with the spread of the phrase.
> by Private Bill Safire
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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