Thursday, November 19, 2015

Where Did The Term "G.I." Come From...?

So many slang terms have come about over the years and often we don't get to find out their origins.

The term G.I. is one of those we have heard many times over the years and probably used many times. Here are some thoughts about the origin of the term. Not as clear cut as you might think.

Why are American soldiers called GIs?
NOVEMBER 11, 2015 By Elizabeth Nix

The origins of this popular nickname are somewhat murky. A popular theory links the term to the early 20th century, when “G.I.” was stamped on military trash cans and buckets. The two-letter abbreviation stood for the material from which these items were made: galvanized iron. Later, the definition of GI broadened and during World War I it was used to refer to all things Army-related, according to “Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language” by Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman. When this happened, GI was reinterpreted as “government issue” or “general issue.”

The prevalence of the term led soldiers in World War II to start referring to themselves as GIs. Some servicemen used it as a sarcastic reference symbolizing their belief that they were just mass-produced products of the government. During the war, GI Joe also became a term for U.S. soldiers. Cartoonist Dave Breger, who was drafted into the Army in 1941, is credited with coining the name with his comic strip titled “G.I. Joe,” which he published in a weekly military magazine called Yank, beginning in 1942. In 1964, U.S. toy company Hasbro, after taking note of competitor Mattel’s huge success with the Barbie doll (launched in 1959), debuted “G.I. Joe,” a military-themed line of action figures for boys.

Meanwhile, in June 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, which became commonly known as the GI Bill. The famous legislation provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans, including funding for college, home loans and unemployment insurance.

I hope this article from the folks at gave you a better understanding of the question. Nothing definite, but a little more insight into the term than we had before, right?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. That OK?


Momlady said...

Did not know that. Thanks! Another little bit of trivia I can share with friends.

linda m said...

I had always heard G.I. meant government issue. After reading your article I have more insight into the term. Thanks for sharing.

Hermit's Baby Sis said...

However the term came about, all GIs are good guys in my book.
And thank you, Bubba, for your service to make our homeland safer.
Big hugs -

JO said...

I had heard that it meant Government Issue also. What ever it means I am proud to call all of Americans who defend our freedom.

Seems a little warmer this morning here so maybe it is nice enough at your place for the patio.

Dizzy-Dick said...

I respect and appreciate the GIs. They are the only thing that stands between us and all in the world who would do us in.

HermitJim said...

Hey Momlady...
You know what a liking I have for useless trivia, right? Glad you liked it.
Thanks for stopping by today!

Hey Linda...
Always fun to find out more about some of our wslang.
Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Sis...
I think that most soldiers don't mind a bit being referred to as GIs. Could be a lot worse, I think.
Thanks for the visit today!

Hey Jo...
I believe most folks accept the term government issue to be the source, but the imagination is a wonderful thing.
Thanks, sweetie, for dropping by today!

Hey Dizzy...
Somehow the very idea of having GIs standing between us and our enemies is a comfort.
Thanks for coming by today, buddy!