GI: "Government Issue"?

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Tue Dec 28 00:21:43 UTC 2004

>Is there any evidence of any kind, even anecdotal, to support the claim
>that "GI" means or once meant "government issue"?

The usual story (HDAS, RHUD, MW3) is that "GI" was an abbreviation for
"galvanized iron" which was reinterpreted (ca. 1917) as "government issue"
(or "general issue" or whatever) -- presumably on the basis of some US Army
inventory item such as "bucket, G. I." -- and then applied to all things
Army. I don't think there's any evidence of an antecedent expression
"government issue". Basically another folk-etymology apparently.

-- Doug Wilson

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