Post by Mark Brader Post by ErrolC Post by Mark Brader
Indeed, while the term "milk run" is usually used to imply
slowness, this is a sense drift since actual milk trains were
I've mainly heard it used to imply routine and easy - specifically
WW2 bombing missions to comparatively easy targets, as well as
modern-day fixed-route regular military cargo flights.
Now that you mention it, so have I.
Two dictionary definitions -
milk run n.
(a) = milk round n. (a);
(b) colloq. a routine trip or service, usually involving calls at
several places, esp. an early morning train or flight;
(c) spec. (U.S.A.F. slang), a safe or uneventful mission; a flight
completed without risk or incident.
1943 Yank 20 Jan. 6/1 The boys were rehashing the previous day's
party, which they had dubbed the ‘Morning Milk Run’.
1944 T. H. Wisdom Triumph over Tunisia vi. 54 It was General
Doolittle who organised the ‘milk-run’ Fortress raids on the ports
of Tunis and Bizerta.
1964 Observer 11 Oct. (Colour Suppl.) 17/2 Similar risks must be
taken by transport aircraft pilots, flying their daily ‘milk runs’
to supply jungle-bound positions along the 1,000-mile frontier [of
1969 Daily Tel. 11 Oct. 11/5 Another way of island hopping down
to Grenada..is to catch the early morning ‘milk-run’ plane from
Antigua, which calls in at Dominica, St. Lucia, Martinique and
Barbados, collecting and unloading passengers, mail and newspapers
as it goes.
A routine, uneventful journey, especially by plane.
‘I was waiting to catch the milk run to Winnipeg’
‘My parents booked me on the Constitution, the liner that did the
milk run from New York to Cannes.’
‘It was a milk run, meaning it was an easy mission.’
‘While at first it looked like another milk run, it wasn't too long
until something unusual happened.’
‘It was supposed to be a milk run on the east side of the pass.’
‘Her first mission is a milk run, which I gather means it is really
‘To every one's enormous relief, the first mission turns out to be a
milk run - hardly any flak, not a German fighter in the sky.’
‘His first ride was a milk run to pick up supplies in Japan.’
Peter Duncanson, UK