JEEP again

Wed Sep 22 23:18:10 UTC 2010

        Note that the actual date of the first reference to the "Jeep"
in Thimble Theatre (as comics aficionados call it, though the strip at
this time usually ran under the title used today, Popeye) was on March
16, 1936, when the mysterious creature was referred to in a teaser

        Eugene the Jeep was extremely popular, and even if the vehicle's
name had some other origin (which does not seem particularly likely on
the evidence), it inevitably would suggest the cartoon character.  Most
early accounts of the jeep do not mention Popeye, but this one, from
shortly after the jeep's introduction, does.  This is from the Abilene
Reporter-News, Mar. 2, 1941, in an article titled "'Jeep,' Army Car,
Reminiscent of Teddy Roosevelt:  It's Rough Rider":

        <<The army has a peculiar looking vehicle that it has dubbed
"The Jeep."

        Now there ain't no such animal as a Jeep, except in the Popeye
comic strip.  Nevertheless, the army has a whole flock of Jeeps, that is
provided one may refer to a fleet of motor buggies as a flock.

        . . . .

        Official name of the Jeep is "command car.  [sic:  no closing
quotes]  It was built just for that purpose and it is used almost
exclusively by officers in field maneuvers, and in following or leading
modern armies into action.

        . . . .

        The Jeep is a four wheel drive contraption with tremendous
power.  "Put a pair of mud chains on her and she'll go through mud up to
her bottom," say army admirers of the vehicle.  "Just a shade rough
except on paved roads but the Geep will take you anywhere you want to
go," the army boys say.>>

        So the article does not actually provide any direct evidence of
the word's etymology, but it does show the close connection made by
early users of the term.  I don't know what to make of the one-time
spelling "Geep."

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Garson O'Toole
Sent: Monday, September 20, 2010 6:33 PM
Subject: Re: JEEP again

Here is a link to the January 1998 letters section of the Atlantic
containing a response from J. E. Lighter about the etymology of Jeep:

J. E. Lighter replies:
The word jeep made its debut in Elzie Segar's comic strip Thimble
Theatre Starring Popeyeon March 3, 1936, as the cry of a small,
odd-looking creature soon identified as "Eugene the Jeep."

Acknowledging Segar, the Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Company built
a "Jeep" truck in 1937. Army command cars and heavy gun tractors were
called "jeeps" in 1940-1941, as were raw recruits. ...

There is more information about Jeep on the webpage at the Atlantic
website (Scroll to near the bottom). Of course there may be one or
more additional articles in the Atlantic that are relevant.


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