The meaning of the expression "Have X, will travel" is explained quite well here. However, I was wondering how to analyse this expression grammatically. It's certainly an abbreviated form, and a few ideas come to my mind, but I'm not sure which one, if any, is correct:

  • Not grammatically correct - since it's a tongue-in-cheek expression it might not be strictly correct
  • [I] have X, [and] will travel [if it gets me a job involving X]
  • [I] have X, [and I am] will[ing] to travel [if it gets me a job involving X]

Bonus question: do expressions following a similar template get used in real life or is this just a literary construct?


It originates from the title of an American television series that was produced from 1957-1963.

The title was a variation on a catchphrase used in personal advertisements in newspapers like The Times, indicating that the advertiser was ready for anything. It was used this way from the early 20th century. A form common in theatrical advertising was "Have tux, will travel," and CBS claimed this was the inspiration for the writer Herb Meadow. The television show popularized the phrase in the 1960s, and many variations were used as titles for other works such as Have Space Suit—Will Travel by Robert Heinlein.

Advertisements, like newpaper headlines, frequently would drop words to make them more concise. The more grammatically correct sentence would be "I have [my own] gun, and am willing to travel."

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    Bob Hope wrote his autobiography Have Tux Will Travel in 1954. That certainly predates the "Have Gun" TV series. – Hot Licks Jun 6 '16 at 19:41
  • @HotLicks That's certainly true (and that particular phrase is mentioned in the Wikipedia quotation in my answer), but the television series was more widely known. It's more likely that the TV series made the phrase generally known to the American public than Hope's autobiography did. – Mike Harris Jun 6 '16 at 20:47

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