Once the Balloon Has Gone Up (Origin)

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Once the Balloon Has Gone Up"?

Once the balloon has gone up means when trouble is here or in a period of trouble.

The term once the balloon has gone up derives from the First World War. Whenever enemy activity was expected, observations balloons would be released to monitor the enemy troop movements. As a result, the raising of these balloons, which were visible to all, soon became a sign of pending enemy action.

A Competing Theory

The term when the balloon goes up refers to the large barrage balloons which were raised on steel cables above British cities during the Second World War. The idea was that enemy bombers would keep away from the cities, fearing that the steel cables would slice through their wings. Therefore, when the barrage balloons went up, it was a sign for a city's inhabitants of a pending air raid.
The Balloon Has Gone Up (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • When the alarm sounded, signalling the start of the mission, they knew the balloon had gone up and it was time to act.
  • With the sudden announcement of the company's bankruptcy, the balloon had gone up and employees were in a state of shock.
  • When the news of the scandal broke, the balloon had gone up and the public demanded answers.
  • As soon as the police arrived at the scene, the balloon had gone up and chaos ensued.
  • With the declaration of war, the balloon had gone up and the nation prepared for the impending conflict.

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This page was written by Craig Shrives.