Kilroy was here


Also found in: Acronyms, Wikipedia.

Kilroy was here

A catch phrase that originated during World War II. According to the most authoritative account of the phrase's origin, James Kilroy, who worked at a Massachusetts shipyard during the war, was in charge of counting rivets. He placed a chalk check mark on each block of rivets to ensure that they would not be counted more than once, but the workers, who were paid piecemeal, erased the mark once Kilroy left. After becoming aware of the problem, he added “Kilroy Was Here” and a drawing of a man peering over a fence. The new ships sailed before the rivet blocks could be painted, so the vessels spread the message that “Kilroy Was Here” throughout the war. Soldiers and sailors adopted the phrase and it and the cartoon were scrawled on walls and other places wherever they went, contending that the graffiti was already there when they arrived. Perhaps the unlikeliest place where the phrase was found was on an outhouse reserved for the use of Churchill, Stalin, and FDR during the 1945 Potsdam Conference. As the story goes, Stalin emerged after using the facility and asked an aide, “And who is Kilroy?”
See also: here