Re:       JEEP a Brand name?

AAllan at AOL.COM AAllan at AOL.COM
Fri Apr 25 19:33:38 UTC 2003

Here's the entry for 1940 from that authoritative work, "America in So Many 
Words" by Metcalf and Barnhart (Houghton Mifflin, 1997):

<< Jeep was a term that carried humor before it carried soldiers. It also 
carried a wide variety of other military meanings before it became the 
designation for the “half-ton four-by-four command-reconnaissance car” first 
manufactured for the U.S. Army in September 1940.

Both the design and the name had their beginning in the 1930s, years before 
they came together in the first production models. The design of the as yet 
unnamed vehicle apparently originated with a tank captain in 1932, and its 
development involved three different manufacturers over the rest of the 
decade. Meanwhile, the term jeep was undergoing its own development. In the 
military, jeep could mean a recruit, a poorly-fitting coat, or the Link 
Trainer for pilots. In civilian life, Eugene the Jeep was introduced March 
16, 1936 as a new character in the Popeye comic strip. Eugene was a small but 
mighty creature whose cry was jeep, jeep.

The combination of connotations, military and civilian, little and yet 
powerful, must have been the inspiration that led someone to call the new 
military vehicle a jeep and thereby fix the meaning for future generations. 
World War II brought the modern meaning of jeep to all corners of the globe 
traversed by American soldiers. After the war it added a civilian dimension; 
the sturdy box with four-wheel drive, open to nature and the elements, became 
popular for civilian recreation and scientific adventures. The jeep remains 
in popularity and production now, more than half a century after it first 
appeared. >>

Now the earliest instances "jeep" referring to the vehicle aren't fully 
known. But after this book was published, Barry Popik posted a 1941 citation:

>From THIS WEEK magazine, NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE, 27 April 1941, pg. 11, col. 

    ...its midget trucks (jeeps) scooting through the woods like rabbits or, 
deftly mounted on empty gasoline drums, crossing a river with complete ease.

Also from the ARMY TIMES later in 1941:
 While driving the "jeep" cars, light trucks, wreckers, passenger cars and
other types of motor vehicles, the Army drivers have developed a language
just as mysterious as Hindustani--and sounds just like it.
A lengthy discussion of the origins of "jeep" by Cecil Adams was posted to 
ADS-L in March 2000.

In any case, while the exact details of its origin remain uncertain, it is 
certain that "jeep" was in use during World War II as a generic, not a brand 

- Allan Metcalf

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