words of the year

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Sat Nov 22 20:30:34 UTC 2003

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
> Of Geoffrey Nunberg
> Sent: Saturday, November 22, 2003 2:35 PM
> Subject: Re: words of the year
> References to putting troops "on the ground" go back at least as far
> the early days of air warfare -- when I was looking at this a while
> ago, I found a cite from a 1948 article in Military Affairs, and it
> would probably be easy to find antedates from the mid-1930's, when
> the coordination of air and ground operations was first being
> discussed. The shift from that use of "on the ground" to a use to
> describe a source close to the field of operations seems pretty
> straightforward -- my bet is that it will show up in the military
> language of WWII.

If that were so, I would expect Google Groups to have it before 1992. Their
archive goes back to 1981 and while the pickings get spotty before 1990,
such an overused phrase should appear earlier if it had roots half a century

Was the 1948 citation a literal usage or figurative?

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