Words of the Year and the Century

AAllan at AOL.COM AAllan at AOL.COM
Mon Jan 17 15:54:14 UTC 2000

<< << 1917    GI >>

I was under the impression that the common term at the time for US soldiers
was dough boy and that GI wasn't popular until the WWII era?  Am I mistaken.

Greg Austin

Absolutely right. GI was used in WWI to refer to a trash can (gov't issue, or
galvanized iron - experts differ) and then to a German artillery shell, a
"G.I. can." Only in WWII did it refer to soldiers, though the development of
meaning is clear.

There's always a question of whether to credit a word in its earliest
appearance, or at the height of its popularity. In our book, we tend to date
words by first appearance, but not always. For example, Ebonics was coined in
1973 but popularized in 1997, and we used that later date. - Allan Metcalf

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