The first recorded mention of term gung-ho (meaning "enthusiastic") is from a 1942 article in the New York Times Magazine, where it was cited in quotes as the slang motto of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, an American guerrilla unit in the Pacific theatre of World War II. The phrase, which described a common working spirit, was picked up by Major Evans Carlson from his friend, communist writer Rewi Alley, who got it from kung ho, the Chinese name for their industrial cooperative. Quite literally, this translates to "work together", and comes from the roots gong (meaning "work") and he ("together"). Throughout the rest of the 1940s, the phrase spread throughout the ranks of the US Marines, and became the title of a 1943 war film. The expression hit the mainstream in the late 1950s and peaked in usage in 2012.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.