Why do we say "Business As Usual"?

Well-Known Expressions

Business As Usual

Meaning:

Life goes on

Background:

This was a catch phrase of Britain in World War I. When war was declared in late July 1914 it ws assumed that the conflict would be over shortly and the British government took a stance of non-interference. Indeed, Cabinet Minister David Lloyd George met with some bankers to assure them that the government's policy was "to enable the traders of this country to carry on business as usual."

Soon after, in August 2014, Winston Churchill (then First Lord of the Admiralty) stated that "the maxim of the British people is 'business as usual'". Stores such as Selfridges and Harrods both picked up on the phrase and posted signs displaying "Business as Usual."

Business did not stay as usual for long. By 1915, Britain was recruiting hundreds of thousands of volunteers, and in 1916 a draft was imposed on single men up to the age of 41 - which led to significant labor shortages (many of which were filled by women) and economic issues.

Churchill was Prime Minister of Great Britain for all but the first eight months of World War II. During WWII the slogan took on new defiance, particularly during the Blitz of 1940, when the expressions "business as usual" and "London can take it" were often found chalked onto the walls of destroyed buildings.

But the expression dates back well before that, to at least the middle of the 18th century when it was used literally - for example a store opening for business after a closure might post a notice saying, "Open for business as usual."

Today, the expression can have both negative and positive connotations.

Alphabetical list of expressions

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