Mar 22, 2011

Sortie and Sally

The papers have been mentioning that the military has been making many sorties over Libya. A sortie is an offensive military mission. The term was used originally to mean an attack from a fortress, but now most commonly used to describe a single mission by a single military aircraft. it can also be called a sally, which is an action to burst forth (sally forth). Sortie was first used in the 1700s and comes from the French, sortir, to go out.

More on Sally and Sally forth - Sally ports" were a feature of castles and fortresses, a closely-guarded opening in the wall of a castle designed to mount quick attacks on whatever enemy army might be besieging the castle.  A "sally," from the Latin "salire" meaning "to jump," was originally a sudden rush out of a besieged position, a lightning attack designed to surprise the enemy. The troops would sortie from the Sally Port. A good soldier does not sally slowly.