All systems go

  • All systems go is an idiom with a well-known origin. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. These figures of speech often use descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often colloquialisms or descriptors that are spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase or expression that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions that native speakers understand such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, chin up, eye to eye, barking up the wrong tree, bite the bullet, beat a dead horse, hit the nail on the head, kicked the bucket, blow off steam, jump on the bandwagon, piece of cake, hit the sack, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the idiom all systems go, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.


    All systems go means that one is ready to proceed, that all aspects of one’s procedure, plan or scheme are in place and are at the ready. The idiom all systems go is derived from the American space program. The very first American in space, Alan Shepherd, used the phrase all systems go during his equipment check in 1961. The expression had been used previously by test pilots, but the general public became familiar with this phrase during the broadcasts reporting on space flight. For pilots and astronauts, the phrase all systems go has a literal meaning that all of the equipment is functioning properly. The expression has journeyed into everyday language to mean that everything is in place and functioning so that one may proceed with a plan or procedure.



    In Houston, it’s all systems go, it appears. (The National Jurist)

    All systems go? Mahomes practices fully with Chiefs, setting up possible Sunday return (The Kansas City Star)

    An ambitious campaign by locals to rid Preston Dock of its long-standing blue-green algae problem and boost the waterside community is now “all systems go.” (The Lancashire Post)

    But for the senior guard, it’s all systems go for a shot at the sectional title. (The Dubois County Herald)

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