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G.I. are initials used to describe the
soldier A soldier is one who fights as part of a military. A soldier can be a conscripted or volunteer enlisted person, a non-commissioned officer, or an officer. In other words, soldiers are military personnel that participate in ground, sea, or ...
s of the
United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the eight U.S. uniformed services, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the U.S. Constitution.Article II, section 2, claus ...
and
airmen An airman is a member of an air force or air arm of a nation's armed forces. In certain air forces, it can also refer to a specific enlisted rank. He can also be referred as soldier in other definition. In civilian aviation usage, the term air ...
of the
United States Air Forces The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the eight U.S. uniformed services. Initially formed as a part of the United States Army on 1 August 1907, the USAF was established as ...
and also for general items of their equipment. The term G.I. has been used as an
initialism An acronym is a word or name formed from the initial components of a longer name or phrase, usually using individual initial letters, as in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) or EU (European Union), but sometimes using syllables, as in B ...
of "Government Issue", "General Issue", or "Ground Infantry", but it originally referred to "
galvanized Galvanization or galvanizing (also spelled galvanisation or galvanising) is the process of applying a protective zinc coating to steel or iron, to prevent rusting. The most common method is hot-dip galvanizing, in which the parts are submerged i ...
iron", as used by the
logistics Logistics is generally the detailed organization and implementation of a complex operation. In a general business sense, logistics is the management of the flow of things between the point of origin and the point of consumption to meet the requi ...
services of the
United States Armed Forces The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States of America. It consists of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard. The president of the United States is the commander-in-chief of the Ar ...
. During
World War I World War I or the First World War, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously known as the Great War or "the war to end all wars", i ...
, American soldiers sardonically referred to incoming German
artillery shell US scientists with a full-scale cut-away model of the W48 155 millimeter nuclear artillery shell, a very small tactical nuclear weapon with an explosive yield equivalent to 72 tons of trinitrotoluene, TNT (0.072 kiloton). It could be fired ...
s as "G.I. cans". Also during that war, "G.I." started being interpreted as "Government Issue" or "General Issue" for the general items of equipment of soldiers and airmen. The term "G.I." came into widespread use in the United States with the start of the
Selective Service System The Selective Service System (SSS) is an independent agency of the United States government that maintains information on those potentially subject to military conscription (i.e. the ''draft'') and carries out contingency planning and preparations ...
("the draft") in 1940, extending into 1941. It gradually replaced the term ”
Doughboy Doughboy was a popular nickname for the American infantryman during World War I. Though the origins of the term are not certain, the nickname was still in use as of the early 1940s. Examples include the 1942 song "Johnny Doughboy Found a Rose in ...
” that was used in World War I. Next, the use of "G.I." expanded from 1942 through 1945. American
five-star General150px, The insignia used by the United States of America generals and admirals of OF-10 rank. A five-star rank is the highest military rank, first established in the United States in 1944, with a five-star general insignia, and corresponding ranks in ...
Dwight D. Eisenhower said in 1945 that "the truly heroic figure of this war sG.I. Joe and his counterpart in the air, the navy, and the Merchant Marine of every one of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of ...
." "G.I." was also used as an adjective for anything having to do with the US Army or Army Air Force. ''They Call Me Joe'' was a series of radio dramas aired in 1944. Each episode focused on a different fictional American soldier. A soldier of a different national or ethnic origin was selected for each episode, but he was always identified as a G. I. named Joe. The series was intended to encourage Americans of varying backgrounds to cooperate to win World War II. It was produced by the NBC University of the Air, which also produced a series The World's Great Novels. The series ran for twelve weeks and aired both on the
NBC Radio Network The National Broadcasting Company's NBC Radio Network (known as the NBC Red Network prior to 1942) was an American commercial radio network which was in operation from 1926 through 2004. Along with the NBC Blue Network it was one of the first two ...
and the
Armed Forces Radio Network The American Forces Network (AFN) is a government television and radio broadcast service the U.S. military provides to those stationed or assigned overseas. Headquartered at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, AFN's broadcast operations, which incl ...
. ” G.I. Joe”, an action figure, was introduced by
Hasbro Hasbro, Inc. (; a syllabic abbreviation of its original name, Hassenfeld Brothers) is an American multinational conglomerate with toy, board game, and media assets, headquartered in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Hasbro owns the trademarks and products ...
in 1964. Its name comes from the term used to describe soldiers during the war. In British military parlance and in armed forces modelled on British military traditions, G.I. refers to a Gunnery Instructor (generally an NCO responsible for inducting and training recruits).


See also

*
Digger (soldier) Digger is a military slang term for soldiers from Australia and New Zealand. Evidence of its use has been found in those countries as early as the 1850s, but its current usage in a military context did not become prominent until World War I, when ...
– A similar term used in Australia *
Dogface (military) Dogface refers to a U.S. Army foot soldier serving in the infantry, especially in World War II. History and usage The origin of the term is difficult to ascertain. According to the recollections of veteran Phillip Leveque: Perhaps I should explai ...
* Folk etymology * G.I. Bill * ''G.I. Blues'' (film) * G.I. Generation * ''G.I. Jane'' (film) * GI Jill, G.I. Jill – disk jockey for the WW II program ''G.I Jive'' * G.I. Joe (pigeon) – a pigeon who served in World War II * G.I. Joe (disambiguation) * G-Man (slang) * ''The Story of G.I. Joe'' (1945 film) * Tommy Atkins (soldier) – British slang for a common soldier * Mehmetçik (soldier) – Turkish slang for a common soldier * ''Sunrise in Heaven'' (film)


References


External links

* {{Wiktionary-inline, GI Initialisms Military terminology of the United States