Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.
Related to great guns: going great guns
go great guns
To do something enthusiastically and successfully. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. He was hesitant at first, but now that he's been on the job for a month, he's going great guns.
An important, successful, or influential person. He's a great gun at the law firm; he wins every court case he gets. After failing to convince the IT department that implementing new network security controls would be in everyone's best interest, Mike felt it was time to bring in the great guns, so he called a company meeting with the executive board.
An exclamation of surprise or dismay. Great guns, you startled me!
1. Very energetically or successfully. This colloquial expression usually occurs in the phrase go great guns, as in They're going great guns with those drawings. The expression comes from British naval slang of the late 1700s, when blowing great guns meant a violent gale. Harry Truman used the term in Dear Bess (1945): "We have been going great guns in the last day or two."
2. great gun. Also big gun. An important person, as in All the great guns came to the reception. This usage is heard less often today. [Slang; early 1800s] Also see big cheese.
3. Great guns! An expletive expressing surprise or astonishment, as in Great guns! You're not leaving now? [Late 1800s]