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In Harm's Way – Redux

Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2004 4:20 am
by Archived Topic
A hundred or so postings ago ( #2711) someone asked for the meaning of IN HARM’S WAY, which wasn’t too hard nor two exciting a question. But where the expression came from was, and at the time I did try to find a source of the phrase, if there was one, and couldn’t. Today I just happened to stumble on the answer and thought I’d give some relief to all those obsessives out there who had this eating away at their subconscious (anyone, what’s the plural of subconscious?), but just couldn’t put their finger on what was bothering them.
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Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Allusions:

IN HARM’S WAY In a dangerous place or situation. Particularly applied to the members of the armed services in a war or threat of war.

The phrase comes from America’s Revolutionary War naval hero, John Paul Jones. In a letter dated November 16, 1778, he wrote, “I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail ‘fast’; for I intend to go ‘in harms way.’” He was in France at the time seeking a ship; the French offered him several, prizes taken from the British. He finally took the ship he named ‘Bonhomme Richard.’
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Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, Colorado – U.S.A.)
4/17/02
Submitted by Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)