great guns, going
An exclamation of surprise or dismay. Great guns, you startled me!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
going great guns
Fig. going fast or energetically. I'm over my cold and going great guns. Business is great. We are going great guns selling ice cream.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
great guns, going
Proceeding vigorously. This term comes from British naval slang of the late eighteenth century, when blowing great guns signified a violent wind or storm. Another meaning for great guns, important persons, persisted throughout the nineteenth century, whereas in America the term was also an expletive for astonishment, comparable to “By George!” or “Great Scott!” It is the naval meaning that was transferred into the slangy cliché, however.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer