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Author Topic: Great guns!  (Read 7007 times)
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Genis Vell
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« on: August 28, 2006, 05:26:05 PM »

I often read this expression in several dialogues in the Superman Silver Age stories.
What does it precisely mean? If in English the "big guns" are the "important guys", the "great guns" could be even more important... Gods, maybe?
This can seem a stupid question, but I haven't almost any Italian edition from that period, so I don't know how it was translated here.

Thanks in advance.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2006, 07:54:19 PM »

Quote from: "Genis Vell"
I often read this expression in several dialogues in the Superman Silver Age stories.
What does it precisely mean? If in English the "big guns" are the "important guys", the "great guns" could be even more important... Gods, maybe?
This can seem a stupid question, but I haven't almost any Italian edition from that period, so I don't know how it was translated here.

Thanks in advance.


"Great Guns" is a very old fashoined way of expressing surprise or awe, like "Great Scott!" or "Zounds!" or (the classic) "Great Caesar's Ghost!" It does not mean anything in and of itself.

It's a very old fashoined, rural expression of surprise; one can imagine someone from the countryside saying "Great Guns!" or "Jumping Jehosephat!"

I have no idea offhand what the etymology or origin of this might be, however, I strongly suspect it comes from one of two sources:

18th-19th Century Sailor Lingo. Lots of "gun" or "cannon" phrases enter English from this source; for instance, the phrase "son of a gun" comes from the insane sounding practice of helping a woman give birth by shooting her with a cannonball.

It may be a regional or "Cockney" misphrasing. I suspect this is the case because it sounds so much like "Great God!" In Cockney English, the "O" is flat and can be said like a "u." This is actually the source of other ways for something to enter the English language. The phrase "what in Sam Hill" comes from a Cockney mispronounciation of "what in the helll."

And my Mother said I'd never amount to anything with an English degree. HA!  Cheesy
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Permanus
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« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2006, 09:46:12 PM »

I agree with Julian, but I think that it's not so much a mispronounciation as a euphemism (a polite way of not saying a bad word): "Great Guns!" is a way of not saying "Great God", because if you say "God" you go to aitch ee ell ell. Other euphemisms include "Oh, sugar!" and "Oh, fudge", but you have to figure those out yourself.
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Super Monkey
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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2006, 11:27:30 PM »

Another good one:

Great Scott!
An exclamation of surprise or disgust, originally American and said to be a reference to General Winfield Scott (1786-1866). Those who identify it as an expression of admiration point to his popularity after his victorious Mexican campaign of 1847. Others believe it to have been originally ironic and to refer to his notorious fussiness and pomposity as a presidential candidate.

Superman says that all the time.


The closest I could fin is this:

Blowing Great Guns - Old term for a heavy gale or hurricane.

Anyway, Great Guns used to be an old nautical expression.
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Genis Vell
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« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2006, 07:53:34 AM »

Thank you!
Great Scott! is my favorite. Sometimes... I tell it!
When I'm with other comics reader, of course...!
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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2006, 04:03:49 PM »

Note that "big guns" doesn't necessarily come from "great guns".  I've always understood "big guns" as a slurry version of "big ones".
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Great Rao
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« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2006, 09:44:49 PM »

Great Scott and Great Guns are my two brothers.

S!
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Gernot
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« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2006, 06:05:14 AM »

Was Great Scott your father?  

Cheesy
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