"... enough for government work"

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Tue Jun 10 19:00:07 UTC 2008

below from Bruce Webster, who suggested that this might be a Language
Log item.  but i recalled our discussion on the topic late in april,
in which Ben Zimmer and Bonnie Taylor-Blake found examples in print
from 1962, in a NASA context (it was said to be one of Wally Schirra's
favorite expressions).  i believe that's are far back as we got it.
people also unearthed examples from later in the 60s, and then the
instances get thick on the ground (as Barry Popik demonstrated here
four years ago).

the comments on Goldberg's blog include a link to a Wiktionary entry
that says the saying was from WWII, but without any evidence, and that
it originally meant 'to the highest standard', again without any
evidence.  we have found nothing to support either claim.

Begin forwarded message:

> Jonah Goldberg is trying to track down the origins and original
> meanings of the phrases "good enough for government work" and "close
> enough for government work":
>   http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=Y2Q3OWM3OTI5ZjlkNTZkNTY5Y2RhZWJkOGIzMGUzMzk=

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