This is the full read-only archive of the "Ask the Wordwizard" section of the original Wordwizard site. The responses to the questions originate from Jonathon Green, the compiler of the Cassell Dictionary of Slang and numerous other dictionaries.
I read somewhere on a word a day calendar that this phrase originated from naval sailing vessels. When women aboard these ships gave birth to babies the corpsman would deliver the baby in a room chamber underneath the big guns on the top deck. Sometimes the women didn't know who the father was because they were having relations with more than one sailor. Hence the newborn was a son of a gun. I don't know what era this is from or if it is accurate or how or why women were aboard military craft at all.ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Submitted by hagbard celine (Danbury CT - U.S.A.)
Signature: Topic imported and archived