What's in a Word | All Blogs


Thank Popeye for the jeep

By Debra Dobbins

The jeep has come a long way since its introduction in 1941. Originally used by the U.S. military, the jeep was an open-air, boxy vehicle with four-wheel-drive that was designed for use over rugged terrain.

If you watch reruns of MASH, you can imagine what the original jeep must have looked like. These days, though, a jeep often comes with a roof, air conditioning, CD player and a host of other amenities (attractive qualities) that G.I.’s in World War II might have found unimaginable. (G.I. stands for General Issue.)

“It was created as a word from the abbreviation G.P. for General Purpose,” Sol Steinmetz writes in There’s a Word for It. Steinmetz adds that the spelling of jeep “is said to have been inspired by the name of ‘Eugene the Jeep,’ a cartoon character … introduced in 1936 in the comic strip ‘Popeye the Sailor’ by cartoonist E.C. Segar.”

For more on the whimsical character of Eugene the Jeep, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_the_Jeep.


 

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