[Ads-l] locked and loaded, loaded and locked

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Fri Aug 11 09:05:46 EDT 2017


Trump said on Twitter this morning that "military solutions are now fully
in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely."

OED3 dates "lock and load" to 1940:

1940   N.Y. Times 19 Nov. 12/3   Lieut. Col. Joseph T. Hart, range officer,
boomed through his microphone, ‘Lock and Load’.

But there are numerous earlier cites for "load(ed) and lock(ed)" in the
context of firearms, like this from 1898:

---
Detroit Free Press, Dec. 18, 1898, p. 10, col. 5
It was in its water proof covering and as he removed the covering, the
rifle, which was loaded and locked, was discharged. ... Collins had let
another soldier have his rifle to do guard duty, and latter had carelessly
left it loaded and locked.
---

Doesn't "load and lock" make more sense, since one locks the bolt before
loading the ammunition? I wonder if it changed to "lock and load" because
of the phonological constraints on "freezes," as Bill Cooper and Haj Ross
called such "A + B" orderings in their classic 1975 paper:

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jlawler/haj/worldorder.pdf

--bgz

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


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