GI: "Government Issue"?

Wilson Gray wilson.gray at RCN.COM
Wed Dec 29 02:11:20 UTC 2004

On Dec 27, 2004, at 5:53 PM, sagehen wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       sagehen <sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM>
> Subject:      Re: GI: "Government Issue"?
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------
>> Is there any evidence of any kind, even anecdotal, to support the
>> claim
>> that "GI" means or once meant "government issue"? During my time in
>> the
>> military, I never once heard the term, "government issue," (and yes, I
>> *was* listening for it) used by anyone to designate or to refer to
>> anything. Terms actually used were "Army issue" or "military issue" or
>> "regular/regulation issue" and these were never abbreviated to "AI" or
>> "MI" or "RI." On the other hand, "GI" was universally used in a
>> million
>> different contexts, e.g.
>> GI beans and GI gravy!
>> Gee, I wish I'd joined the Navy!
>> Sound off!
>> etc.
>> -Wilson Gray
> ~~~~~~~~~
> GI?
> What else might it mean?

Galvanized iron, perhaps? I have no idea. That's why I'm asking. In the
years of my service, the very early Vietnam era, there was nothing that
I ever came into contact with that was was referred to in either speech
or writing as "government issue" and the term "G.I." was never expanded
into "government issue." Furthermore, even in the immediate post-war
years, there were claims made that "G.I." was not derived from
"government  issue."

What sorts of things were referred to as "government issue" in your
husband's day?

-Wilson Gray

>   My WWII vet husband has no doubt at all about its
> "government issue" meaning. He also remembers a sort of glossary of
> military terms that came out in /Time/ right after Pearl Harbor.
> Possibly
> this is archived somewhere.
> Paul Fussell's /The Great War and Modern Memory/ might usefully be
> consulted.
> I can't remember any ambiguity about it during the years both of my
> parents
> were teaching English in several different  Army & Army Air Force
> programs
> based at the Uni of Neb. (ASTP & a sort of catch-up program for
> under=prepared recruits).
> A. Murie

More information about the Ads-l mailing list