Curious George

A fountain of material and immaterial information - Things that I spend my days wondering about... and perhaps you have been too? Check out for more curious questions (and answers to them)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Military spirit.....

I seem to be in the military spirit today, so I follow up Gung Ho with the origin of the word G.I.

The original meaning of this term for American soldiers and their gear is somewhat obscure. It is commonly thought to stand for Government Issue or General Issue. In fact, it originally stood for Galvanized Iron. A G.I. can was a metal trash can. During WWI, German artillery shells were called G.I. cans.

Sometime during the 1930s, the idea that G.I. stood for government or general issue sprang up. During WWII, this idea took hold among the general populace and became a reference to anything having to do with the American military--especially common soldiers.

But while the origin may originally be galvanized iron, that origin lacks the humorous punch that propelled the phrase to stardom. The sardonic idea that soldiers were issued by the government instead of being born is what made the idea catch on.


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