What do you mean, “Keep some powder dry?
December 4, 2009 by Chip Wood
I want to thank the many thousands of you who have posted comments at the end of my various Straight Talk columns. I really enjoy reading these interesting, intelligent, informed, opinionated, controversial and sometimes downright insulting responses that you all have posted.
If you’ve never read some of the correspondence that my articles have elicited, I encourage you to do so. Just scroll down to the bottom of one of my past columns. (Click here to see the Straight Talk archive.)
One question that’s appeared several times asks what I mean by the tagline at the end of each column—“Until next time, keep some powder dry.” One severely myopic reader wondered if I wasn’t trying to incite violence.
That’s ridiculous. The phrase means keep something in reserve, and protect your ammunition, so you’ll always be ready for the next battle. These days, that’s very good advice for every patriotic American.
The oldest reference I could find to the expression was attributed to Oliver Cromwell, who told his troops, “Put your trust in God, but mind to keep your powder dry.”
That’s a very good sentiment… from a very bad man.
As part of my research, I Googled the expression, “keep some powder dry,” and got 1.1 million hits. (I only checked the first two pages.) But this absolutely amazed me: When I added my name and Googled “keep some powder dry, Chip Wood,” I got 894,000 hits. The vast majority had nothing to do with me, however. They were all about keeping wood and chips dry. Drat!