1. It’s a GI’s word most often used for officers, and in particular, officers who are full of themselves. The first military leader to have been called with the A-word — both by his men and his superiors by the way — is George Patton, and that makes perfect sense, particularly if you read the unexpurgated Patton, not the Patton of the movie. … It’s a word that looks up. And the A-word always does. It’s a critique from below, from ground level, of somebody who’s gotten above himself.

    — Geoff Nunberg on the origins of the A-word among griping WWII officers

  2. The A-Word

    Ascent of the A-Word

    Geoffrey Nunberg

    WWII

    Fresh Air