One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A comprehensive discharge from an obligation or liability, especially from a debt; (now) specifically (chiefly US) the comprehensive discharge of a person from bankrupt status.
2US Military. A discharge from military service with a record which is satisfactory, but not sufficiently meritorious to warrant an honourable discharge.
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in Thomas Cooper (c1517–1594), theologian and bishop of Winchester. From general + discharge.
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