From a catachresis of Mandarin 工合 (gōnghé), interpreted as 工 (gōng, “work”) + 合 (hé, “together”) to mean "to work together", itself an acronym for 工業合作社／工业合作社 (Gōngyè Hézuòshè, “[Chinese] Industrial Cooperative Society”). The interpretation "work together" was created by U.S. Marine Evans Carlson, who was posted in China during the 1930s. It became the motto and nickname of the enthusiastic battalion Carlson commanded, leading to other marines adopting the term to mean overly enthusiastic. It was popularized in the United States by the 1943 war film Gung Ho!, which profiled the battalion's leadership of the Raid on Makin Island during World War II.
- (informal, derogatory) Overly enthusiastic or energetic.
- No matter how gung ho you are when you start, you will tire as you become mired in details.
- (informal, derogatory, military) Cocky, undisciplined, contemptuous of rules