great guns, going

great guns

An exclamation of surprise or dismay. Great guns, you startled me!
See also: great, gun

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.
See also: going, great, gun

great guns

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]
See also: great, gun

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.
See also: going, great