Origin of "Gitmo"

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Fri Feb 5 18:33:54 UTC 2010

I would guess that the official abbreviation (and possibly the early
journalistic usage as well) comes from telegraphy. "GTMO" is the military's
telegraphic abbreviation for the base. I always assumed that "Gitmo" was
from this abbreviation. Or at least it was in the 1980s when I was doing
communications security stuff. (I'm guessing that radio-telegraphy has gone
as a technology, replaced by digital TCP/IP-based comms.)

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Jonathan Lighter
Sent: Friday, February 05, 2010 9:11 AM
Subject: Origin of "Gitmo"

Bill Mullins reported a "Gitmo" from 1947.  The name became frequent in the
media only during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Nor have I found it in
fiction before that period.

The word clearly derives from a pronunciation of the Anglo-Hispanic abbr. of
"Guantanamo" rather than from some imaginitive wordplay. (Oxford American
Dictionary reaches the same conclusion, but offers no cites: its spelling
"GTMO," the current official form, suggests their evidence is more recent
than most of the following.)

1919 _Salubridad y Asistencia Social_ XXI 221 [Google Books]: Gtmo. Sugar

1920 _A List, with Brief Records, of the Alumni and Students of
Hampden-Sidney College, Virginia, who Served in the World War_ (Richmond,
Va.: pvtly. ptd.) 54:  WHALEY, John Hughes (Ex. '18) : ... overseas 6 months
7th Regiment, U. S. Marines, Cuba; 14 months Naval Dispensary, Gtmo. Bay,
Cuba; 4 months U. S. S. Arkansas; promoted ph. m-1; discharged Receiving
Ship, Washington, D. C, Aug. 5, 1919.

1933 _The Daily Gleaner_ (Kingston, Jamaica) (June 10) 2: IN MEMORIAM In
loving memory of my beloved husband, Richard E. Johnston, who fell asleep in
the Arms of Jesus on the 10th June, 1931 at Gtmo, Cuba.

1945 _Troy (N.Y.) Record_ (Apr. 12) 20: Having volunteered for foreign duty,
she was sent to the GTMO Naval Base in Cuba at the end of her basic training
[in 1943].


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