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Where does the phrase 'smoking gun' come from?

Used to mean indisputable evidence 'smoking gun' was first used in the Sherlock Holmes story, The Gloria Scott (1893). 
We rushed into the captain's cabin . . . there he lay with his brains smeared over the chart of the Atlantic . . . while the chaplain stood with a smoking pistol in his hand.
William Safire the identifies the first contemporary use as during the Watergate scandal in 1974. The phrase was then heavily used in the controversy regarding nuclear weapons in Iraq.

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Comments

  1. Thank you very much for this information. I never realised that Conan Doyle was responsible for supplying us with this phrase.

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