Origins of the phrase "Lock and Load"

Joseph S. Barrera III
Wed, 19 Jun 2002 22:34:42 -0700

Lock and Load

This imperative phrase originally referred to the operation of the M1
Garand Rifle, the standard U.S. Army rifle of WWII. Its meaning is more
general now, referring to preparation for any imminent event.

The original phrase was actually reversed, "load and lock." The phrase
refers to inserting a clip of ammunition into the rifle, "loading," and
"locking" the bolt forward thereby forcing a round into the chamber. The
phrase first appears in Gach's 1941-42 In the Army Now. It was
immortalized by John Wayne (who else?) in 1949's Sands of Iwo Jima,
where the Duke reversed the phrase to the current "lock and load."

The term "lock" in this phrase is a different use of the word than in
references to the firing mechanism of a weapon, as in "flintlock."

That girl became the spring wind
She flew somewhere, far away
Undoing her hair, lying down, in her sleep
She becomes the wind.